[OPE-L:4517] What are we fighting for?

Alan Freema (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 03:59:31 -0800 (PST)

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Re [4508]

Jerry, the issues you suggest for discussion are very
interesting but I don't know why you want us to discuss them
*instead of* the very clear agreement previously reached on
OPE, from which - though I could be wrong - it seems to that
Ajit primarily dissents.

We agree on something. Let's not forget that. What is so
wrong with agreement? We agree constant capital is
represented for Marx by the value expressed in the money
paid for it, and variable capital is represented for Marx by
the value expressed in the money paid for it.

Moreover this agreement is extending. Duncan now states, in
his paper to our conference, that:

"I do not see any inconsistency between the New
Interpretation and a single system interpretation of the
labor theory of value"

He advances a condition, which I met in my paper on econ-
value and posted to him, that for this agreement to extend
to the non-stationary case then a value-conserving
definition of the monetary expression of labour-time must be
found. I have done this. In my view therefore

(i) there is full agreement between TSS, SSS and Duncan
that in the special case of a stationary state, the
case discussed in all the literature on Marx's alleged
inconsistency, Marx was fully consistent. That is, the
literature is wrong.

(ii) I see no sustainable objection to extending this to the
non-stationary case.

This agreement is, to say the least, not without importance.
If it is true, conclusions that follow include:

(i) Marx was not inconsistent as charged by the economics

(ii) the eighty-year exclusion order on Marx, by this
profession, should be lifted [OPE might usefully
campaign for that]

(iii)we can now swing the searchlight around and point it at
the people I always assumed we were fighting. How is it
that for eighty years the profession got this one wrong?

Exactly what are we fighting, Jerry? The suppression of Marx
by the economics profession, or each other?

We disagree on all manner of questions; whether Marx used
simultaneous or sequential causation; what was 'given' for
Marx, the precise meaning of the 'monetary expression of
labour time', etc. And as Alejandro points out, actually
on all the questions Fred raises, he has received answers.
The question is (especially in Fred's absence) whether we
set a higher priority on raking over differences or on
clarifying the basis of our agreements.

If we continually discuss only differences in the absence of
any clear framework of agreement, this is a sure guarantee
of the war of dogmas which destroyed the value discussion
in the early 1980s.

This is above all essential when agreement itself provokes
dissent. Ajit demurs. Most other 'New Interpretation'
supporters have still to express a view. David I know
disagrees. Paul and Allin have never agreed. I am not sure
about Ian, or other newer members. We owe it to them to
establish the clear *theoretical* basis of our agreement,
or they will be fighting a constantly moving target.

If we can establish exactly what we agree on and they can
state exactly what they disagree with, we get something
rather rare but exceptionally useful. It is called 'clarity'.

If we don't get clarity, there will be much less good humour
on the list because we will not understand where our
differences start and end. And these differences will then
express themselves in personal aggression and flaming.

In the interests of civilised conduct on OPE, let's have some
clarity. Let's get the agreement clear, and provide a fixed
target for those who want to disagree. And, not least, let's
not remove the space for them to express this disagreement,
in our haste to move on to ever more esoteric and exciting