[OPE-L:3983] Re: 102 years later

Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 14:24:16 -0800 (PST)

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Can't resist a quick comment on Jerry's excellent "102 years later". His
punchline is that rather than completing Marx's project, Marxist economists have
been discussing since the mid-1970's

>a) the transformation [again]
>b) the Okishio Theorem [over and over again]
>c) empirical work

>From my point of view, the reason for this is obvious. This is the behaviour
of what Kuhn called normal science in crisis, or what Lakatos called a
degenerative scientific research program. Using Lakatos' terminology,
whereas a progressive
SRP will be extending its "protective belt" and strengthening its core,
Marxism is simply defending its core--the labor theory of value. Using
Kuhn's terminology, this paradigmatic core is beset with several unsolvable
anomalies--the transformation, Okishio, and the failure of empirical
predictions (the TRPF, and the inevitability of socialism, for instance).
Individual researchers (or groups) come up with "solutions" which satisfy
them, but they can't get allegiance to their solution from others who regard
themselves as part of the same school, because they see weaknesses in the

This doesn't trouble me, because I long ago abandoned the labor theory of
value, and I am of the opinion--like so many others, but for different
reasons--that those who wish to develop Marx's analysis can only do so by
abandoning the labor theory of value.

Steve Keen

>In 1894, Engels published Marx's drafts for the third volume of _Capital_.
>Although Marx had said in 1866 (2/13 letter to Engels) that his manuscript
>was "finished", he added: "the manuscript, gigantic in its present form,
>could not be made ready for publication by anyone but me, not even by
>you." Yet, following Marx's death in 1883, Engels inherited the
>responsibility of editing and publishing what became V2 and V3 (and the
>1851-63 drafts were to await partial publication as _TSV_ by Kautsky still
>Engels was to discover for himself how "finished" Marx's drafts were. Some
>indications of the "finished" character of V3 can be seen in Ch. 4 ("The
>Effect of Turnover on the Rate of Profit") written entirely by Engels and
>Ch. 52 on "Classes" (1 1/2 pages long).
>This was a far cry from Marx's original 6-book-plan:
>I. Capital
>II. Landed-Property
>III. Wage-Labour
>IV. The State
>V. International Trade
>VI. World Market and Crises
>While there is disagreement concerning the status of Books 2 and 3
>(Rosdolsky argues that they were later included in _Capital_; Mike L.
>argues that they were not), what became of Books 4-6?
>Quite simply, they were not written.
>What became of the book on "Competition" that Marx evidently planned to
>write when he wrote the drafts for V3?
>It was not written.
>Yet, the importance of the subject to Marx can be seen in his comments at
>the beginning of Ch. 6, Section 2 ("Revaluation and Devaluation of Capital:
>Release and Tying-Up of Capital"), in Ch. 18 ("The Turnover of Commercial
>Capital. Prices", see p. 426 Penguin ed.), and in Ch. 14 ("Counteracting
>Factors", see Ibid, p. 342).
>Marx's inability to complete his original plan can, of course, be
>understood when one remembers that he was, after all, only one person who
>was active in revolutionary movements and who suffered -- horribly -- from
>debilitating diseases near the end of his life. Neither can one blame
>Engels. He did the best he could with what he inherited (and, in some
>cases, perhaps ill-understood).
>Yet, what can we say in defense of the Marxists who followed Marx who
>wrote on political economy?
>Initially, there were many debates among German, Austrian, and Russian
>Social Democrats related to developing Marx. There were, for instance,
>debates on theories of crises, imperialism, inflation, the agrarian
>question, etc.. For the most part, those debates took place in the late
>XIX century or the early XX century.
>What has been debated and developed since the 1940's?
>In the late 1960's and 1970's, there was renewed attention to the subject
>of imperialism and the internationalization of capital. There were also
>important debates on the state (although the connection of those debate
>to "basic theory" remained rather vague).
>What have Marxist economists been discussing since the mid-1970's?
>a) the transformation [again]
>b) the Okishio Theorem [over and over again]
>c) empirical work
>There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of these tasks. Indeed, one
>could argue convincingly that they *deserved* much attention. Yet, the
>first two of these tasks (transformation, Okishio) were essentially
>defensive tasks imposed upon Marxists by critics of Marx. The third task
>-- important in its own right -- was not a task of developing theory _per
>Putting aside the question for now of landed property and wage-labour
>(Books 2-3), what is the justification now for not concentrating on
>developing Marxist theory re a) the state; b) international trade; c)
>world market and crisis; and, d) competition?
>What is the justification for treating V3 as if it was the "last word" in
>"basic theory"? Surely, *by Marx's own standards*, it was incomplete and
>fragmented (the same could be said of V2).
>As we approach the XXI century, how much longer will we wait before we
>systematically examine these topics? What is the political
>and theoretical justification for *not* examining these subjects -- 102
>years later?
>In solidarity, Jerry
Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Faculty of Business & Technology
University of Western Sydney
PO Box 555 Campbelltown NSW 2560
s.keen@uws.edu.au (046) 20-3254 Fax (046) 26-6683
Home: (02) 9558 8018