[OPE-L:4508] Givens in Marx's Theory -- and beyond

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 06:05:01 -0800 (PST)

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Alan wrote in [OPE-L:4506]:

> I am concerned that instead of this we are discussing some
> personalised construct called 'K-M' Marxism. I think this is
> a reversion to the methods of neoclassical economics, which
> always defines theories not by their content but by their
> authorship; which invariably substitutes persons for ideas.

To begin with, the current "K-M interpretation of the transformation
problem" was begun this month by Fred with the object of offering a
critique of Andrew K's and Ted's interpretation of the transformation as
presented by Andrew and Ted in their published works. That in no way was
a "personalized construct" or a "reversion to the methods of neoclassical

Secondly, as TSSers have repeatedly emphasized, TSS is not a homogeneous
interpretation. It, therefore, seems more appropriate to zero in on one
TSS interpretation rather than discuss all of the different TSS
interpretations at once or claim that one TSS interpretation is _the_
TSS interpretation.

Thirdly, the call to discuss Fred's interpretation of "givens" in Marx's
theory is not a "personalized construct." It is an attempt to get us to
engage in a serious discussion about that interpretation. I don't think
that anyone could deny that many megabytes have been written on this list
regarding TSS interpretations. Indeed, Fred has written extensively on
that subject. Yet, has anyone from a TSS perspective attempted to
critique Fred's conception of the importance of "givens" in Marx's
theory? If so, I don't recall it. Although there has been discussion
about the _similarity_ between Fred's and TSS interpretations (e.g. re
"single-system"), where is the _critique_ of the perspective on
"givens"? (btw, for those looking for a published work by Fred on this
topic, see the article by Fred in the Fred ed. book).

Fourthly, since you are so intent on discussing ideas rather than people,
let's discuss Books 2-6. Yet, let me add here that our conception of what
is "given" in _Capital_ makes a big difference in terms of our conception
of what is _not_ given when we discuss more concrete topics (such as Book
2 on "Landed-Property").

In solidarity, Jerry