[OPE-L:5228] Re: Censoring Ajit?

Ajit Sinha (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 01:03:04 -0700 (PDT)

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I cannot believe that you think that your so-called challenge is still on!
What do I have to do now? I gave you two sets of numbers within 10 minutes
of your challenge. One set of numbers are 1:1 price ratio and 33.3% rate of
profit. And as I had pointed out in my response, this is the correct set of
numbers. I also gave you another set of numbers, which I suggested you would
arrive at with your kind of reasoning. I also gave you the reason why your
reasoning is theoretically poor. You suggested that my interpretation of
your reasoning was wrong. But then you arrived at the same numbers (and mind
you your system of equations have more unknowns than the number of
equations, so it is underdetermined as I had pointed out in my first
response) as mine!

Anyway, you keep repeating that your condition # ..., and now the
proposition A, is not satisfied by my numbers. This only shows that a simple
point which I have tried to explain so many times with so many examples is
not getting through. So let me make one more attempt. All the inputs of any
industry, except labor, is also outputs of its own as well as other
industries. So when industries buy and sell to each other, the selling of
one's output is at the same time buying of input for others. This is one
transaction, and there would be one set of exchange ratios at which these
buyings and sellings would take place. In your 'challenge' example there are
two time periods, (-1-0) and (0-1), and not just one. So what you are
talking about is two transactions and not just one, but you still want to
maintain that the 'prices' of inputs for both the transaction periods must
remain the same even when the 'prices' have changed. This is not a
tautology, but a simple mistake. No good theoretician would ever maintain
the condition of yours. As I have explained time and time again, this would
mean that one is assuming that money-commodity remains unaffected by the
changes in prices due to technical change; or in the case of fiat-money it
means that all the capitalists have money illusion.

This time you come up with a term "non-price determinants of prices", which
supposedly remains the same for the two transaction periods. This you think
is your trump card, and you suggest that since I do not understand this
sophisticated theoretical concept, I make many mistakes. But I'm sorry to
inform you my friend, there is no such thing as "non-price determinants of
prices" in this whole universe, and there cannot be one. Prices cannot be
expressed in anything else than something which itself has price. You cannot
measure length with something that does not have length. It is as simple as
that. Think about representing or measuring prices in terms of sunlight,
which is a "non-price determinant", and you would know what absurdity you
are talking about.

Now, let me get to the account of this debate you have presented in the
beginning of your post. I have presented many criticisms of your TSS
approach during this debate. I'll list only three or four here that are
central to your theory, and you haven't been able to provide an answer to
any of these criticisms. So your claim that "I therefore decided that
explanation and argument were of no use ..." is totally misleading and falls.


The set of your prices in the current year is determined from the set of
prices in the previous year. This leads to the infinite regress of the
determinants of prices in the current year. To avoid this, you arbitrarily
assume that some time in the past the prices of inputs and outputs are
equal. You have not defended this arbitrary assumption, which amounts to
internal inconsistency of your theory. And once you relax this arbitrary
assumption, there is no way out of the infinite regress. That's why I say,
you cannot have a theory of prices that determines prices from prices.


Your theory assumes that $1 = 1 hour of labor. This is completely arbitrary
as well. You have accepted that this is arbitrary. But you don't seem to
understand that once you accept that it is arbitrary the game is over right
there. You have accepted that you have no theoretical means of translating
money prices to labor-values. This makes all your labor-value numbers


You assume that value of money remains constant when exchange ratios of all
other commodities change due to technical change. This is another
indefensible assumption. This is because the exchange value of
money-commodity must change if the technical change has taken place in any
basic good sector. There is no way it would remain constant. Moreover, if
you think that prices are measured in fiat money, then the price of fiat
money changes with changes in prices by definition.


You think that my criticism # 3 could be taken care of by measuring prices
with some kind of "non-price determinant of prices". This is a logical
absurdity, as I have explained above.

Cheers, ajit sinha

At 06:39 AM 6/5/97 -0700, you wrote:
>In ope-l 5169, Ajit first writes that he "suspect[s]," and a mere three
>sentences later that he "know[s]," that I want to censor him.
>Let me assure you that this is not the case at all, my friend. Indeed, I
>would like to invite you to speak on a panel that I'm organizing. The panel
>will discuss the Internal (In)consistency of Marx's Value Theory, as part of
>the International Working Group in Value Theory sessions at the Eastern
>Economic Association Convention at the end of February, in New York. I will
>need to clear this with the other co-organizer of the IWGVT, but I don't
>expect that it will be a problem. The idea is to have both Marxists and
>non-Marxists on the panel, and both those who challenge the allegations of
>internal inconsistency as well as those who defend it.
>As one whose work and ideas have been subject to so much suppression and
>distortion, and who fights against Marxists' and non-Marxists' use of false
>"proofs" of Marx's nonexistent "errors" and "self-contradictions" to suppress
>his philosophy of human liberation and body of ideas as a whole, I assure you
>that I stand firmly for the free development of ideas, and for the testing of
>ideas as the road to truth.
>Indeed, the ope-l record speaks loud and clear: far from desiring to censor
>you, I keep trying mightily to get you to speak up and tell me -- nay, tell us
>all -- the set of prices that will satisfy the conditions of the challenge I
>have put forth.
>(For those who haven't been following the challenge, a bit of background.
>Since he came onto this list, and even before, at the ASSA in January, Ajit
>has consistently attempted to deny the TSS interpretation the right to exist
>-- "You CANNOT have a theory of prices which is determined by prices, as your
>interpretation of Marx does" (emphasis added). And since Marx's value theory
>appears to be internally inconsistent without the TSS interpretation, Ajit is
>effectively attempting to deny Marx's value theory the right to exist.
>Specifically, Ajit has alleged that the TSS interpretation of Marx's value
>theory is "absurd," because it permits the prices of two periods to differ,
>even though the non-price determinants of prices are the same in two periods.
>Despite my best efforts at explanation, I was unable to convince Ajit that
>there was nothing absurd about this, though I did in fact demonstrate what I
>needed to demonstrate.
>I therefore decided that explanation and argument were of no use and that the
>propositions in question needed to be subjected to a test. Only a test would
>prove to be definitive. So here's what I came up with.
>The reason that the prices of two periods MUST be able to differ, even though
>the non-price determinants of prices are the same, is that
>Proposition A
>the output prices of one period must equal the input prices of the next
>(assuming a circulation time of zero), since there's only one transaction.
>Ajit acknowledges that proposition A is correct; in fact, he calls it a
>"tautology." But he seems not to have recognized that it implies that the
>prices of two periods must be able to differ, even though the non-price
>determinants of prices are the same, because he repeatedly maintained
>Proposition B
>if the non-price determinants of prices are the same in two periods, the input
>prices and the output prices of both periods must be the same.
>The crux of the challenge is to test whether Propositions A and B are
>compatible or, as I maintain, self-contradictory. (See my ope-l 5085 for the
>challenge itself.) It therefore provides a clearcut test of whether Ajit has
>been right to claim that the TSS interpretation is "absurd" because in it
>input prices become determinants of output prices, or whether it is Ajit's own
>price theory that is self-contradictory.
>If the latter is the case, one of the propositions that Ajit holds has to
>give. The right thing to do, of course, is to continue to affirm the
>tautology, Proposition A, and throw overboard Proposition B. That is exactly
>what the TSS interpretation does. All simultaneism violates the tautology.
>Ajit wants to have it both ways. But he has yet to show that it is possible to
>do so.)
>Why have you not provided us with the set of prices that will satisfy the
>conditions of the challenge? The stakes are very high! If you meet the
>challenge, then you will have succeeded in destroying the TSS interpretation
>(and a good deal of temporal economic theory, as well)! It is now 16 days
>since I issued the challenge. In that period of time you have written 6 posts
>in response to the challenge. In perhaps 1 of them do you even attempt to
>provide a set of numbers that meets the challenge. But as I demonstrated, it
>fails to meet the challenge.
>In your latest post you write "I think, I'm going to demonstrate the
>phoneyness of your so-called challange once and for all," but you do not do
>so. Instead, you keep trying to ridicule what we have to say -- or your
>version thereof. You make many errors in doing so. But it is pointless for
>me to discuss any of this, because it would just be diversionary. It would
>divert the discussion away from the central -- nay, the ONLY -- question: can
>you or can't you produce a set of numbers that acquits your price theory of
>the charge of internal inconsistency?
>If you can, do so already. If you can't, admit that you can't.
>What you seem not to have understood about my last post, to which you respond,
>is that it clears up a misconception that you seem to have had. My post
>explained how and why the challenge permits you to measure prices in ANY WAY
>you choose, as long as you have a consistent standard of price. You do not
>need to assume a money commodity with a constant price. So you have no reason
>to avoid the challenge any longer.
>I asked you to clarify one thing you wrote before that made no sense, but you
>didn't do so. So I'll ask you ask what you meant by "When I said that when an
>output is bought as in input, it is one transction, and by definition there is
>only one price here, and there is nothing wrong with it."
>Ajit also writes: "The one question I wanna ask Andrew is: how many people
>responded to his prize challange about how many days it would take Ajit to put
>some numbers where his mouth is? If he did not get any response, he should
>know that his game is over."
>That is one possible interpretation, but only one. Another is that people
>think you will never be able to produce a set of numbers that vindicates the
>internal coherence of your price theory. They therefore think that it would
>take forever until they'd be able to claim their prize, so why bother.
>Andrew Kliman