[OPE-L:4624] The Logical Status of Gil's Debating Tactics

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 17:04:22 -0800 (PST)

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A reply to Gil's ope-l 4623.

I, for one, certainly have no desire to duck anything, Gil, including your
stuff on Chapter 5.

But it is rather hard for me to discuss this stuff since, as you know, I
stayed out of the Chapter 5 debate almost entirely. I stayed out because I
couldn't understand what you were talking about. I asked a couple of
questions on a couple of points to get some clarification, but I still never
understood what was going on. The more involved the debate got, the less I

Basically, I concluded the following: your "refutation" of Marx employed the
method of substitutionism and was therefore invalid, so I stopped worrying
about it. You used what you yourself characterized as an "interpretation" of
the argument in Chapter 5 to show that this substitute for what Marx wrote was
inconsistent with other things he wrote or was false or something (I'm not
sure which). Since I not only did not accept your interpretation, but have
trouble even understanding it, I figured it was okay if I concentrated on some
of the other half-million or so things I need to do.

Gil writes: "(though Alan was the primary correspondent at the time, I
obviously touched on issues that
concern you as well). Thus in quoting those passages from Alan's paper you
were in effect reasserting a position that I refuted long ago."

Let me get this straight. You claim to have refuted a position on issues that
concern me. Thus, when I quote a section of Alan's paper that relates to
those issues, I am in effect reasserting his position?!

Doesn't the *context* in which I was quoting matter?

I urge you to go back and re-read what I wrote (ope-l 4581) in *context*.
Anyone who does so will see that I was NOT engaged in discussing the merits of
Marx's arguments in Chapter 5. The context was, rather, this: not too long
ago, Paul Cockshott proposed banning discussion of _Capital_ from this list,
which is tantamount to banning those of us whose research deals with
_Capital_. Then, in ope-l 4578, the post to which I was replying, Allin
Cottrell quoted someone whose name he did not give in order to suggest that
TSS work be burned. The exact wording of the passage is

"If we take in our hand any volume ... let us ask, Does it contain any
abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any
experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it
then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

In order to help save our work from being consigned to the flames (and more
generally, to help save it, and the Marxism of Marx, from the systematic
suppression which still occurs unabated), I quoted some passages of Alan's
paper, precisely and solely in order to demonstrate that TSS work on the
value/production price transformation does "contain abstract reasoning
concerning quantity or number," even though none of us thinks that the purpose
of the transformation was to predict the magnitudes of actual market prices.

I was therefore not re-opening the Chapter 5 debate.

If you wish to compel me to engage in the Chapter 5 debate with you before
you'll answer my questions, you have that right. You will indeed secure
yourself the space to avoid answering them for a long, long, long, long time
to come if you insist on this gambit, because I am simply incapable of
engaging in the Chapter 5 debate. That's because I don't understand what you
are talking about. I wish I did, but I don't. That's why I've stayed out of
that debate, as I said.

I frankly do not understand why you insist on the linkage of two wholly
unrelated things. The questions I posed to you emerged from OUR OWN
discussions. Those discussions had nothing at all to do with Chapter 5, and
my questions have nothing at all to do with Chapter 5. Rather, I came back
from the ASSA conference rather enthused with Frank Thompson's theorem, which
demonstrated in a new way the incompatibility of simultaneism and Marx's value
theory. I let people know about this. You started attacking. You didn't
bring up Chapter 5, and you didn't compel me to start talking about Chapter 5
before you went on the attack. So why now?

So that the disinterested reader can verify that my still unanswered questions
have NOTHING at all to do with Chapter 5 of Vol. I of _Capital_, I will repeat

* Can a rising VCC ITSELF lead to a lower rate of profit in simultaneist value
theory, as it can in the successivist interpretation of Marx's value theory,
and in Marx's value theory itself? Or is Frank Thompson's theorem a beautiful
example of the incompatibility of Marx's value theory and simultaneism?

* Did Gil produce an example of a "spurious at best" claim about supposedly
intrinsic features of simultaneism?

* Does the presence of some futures markets for some commodities in the "real
capitalist world" mean that we have to assume input and output prices are
equal if we are talking about the "real capitalist world'?

* Am I required to state that I am not postulating the existence of conditions
that do not exist in the real world?

* Is simultaneism logically suspect because it lets the same commodity, at one
single moment, have two different prices?

Indeed, the last 4 questions have NOTHING to do with _Capital_ at all!!!! The
first one does, but it has NOTHING to do with "price-value equivalence,"
because Frank Thompson's theorem is posed in the context of a ONE-COMMODITY
economy, in which quantitative price-value differences cannot arise!!!!

So Gil's claim that logic compels us to talk about Chapter 5 before he will
answer these questions is wrong. Plain wrong. Totally wrong.

I am STILL very interested in your responses to these questions, Gil. But if
you insist on slogging me through a debate on a wholly unrelated matter -- a
debate in which I was not engaged and do not even understand -- before you
answer them, then you win. You get to avoid my questions. Bravo.

Andrew Kliman