[OPE-L:5628] RE: Karl Marx in _The New Yorker_

Paul Cockshott (wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK)
Wed, 22 Oct 1997 22:20:15 +0100 (BST)

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At 17:10 16/10/97 UT, andrew kliman wrote:

>Cassidy's article challenges those of us who have refuted the "proofs" of
>internal inconsistency to redouble our efforts to combat this fiction. It
>challenges those who have tried to downplay or sidestep the internal
>inconsistency issue to recognize that they cannot redraw the battle-lines
>willy-nilly. The battle-lines have already been drawn for over one hundred
>years now. One simply stands on one side or the other.
Paul Cockshott

The issue of internal inconsistency between volume 1 and volume 3 only
carries this ideological weight if it is assumed that volume 3 is in
some way closer to what really happens than volume 1. If that is the case,
i.e., if actual prices gravitate around equal profit rate prices of
production, and if the derivation of these from values was inconsistent,
then it can be argued that the analysis of exploitation may itself
be wrong. This is the essence of the attack by Steadman and others.

If, on the contrary, the model in volume 1 turns out to as close to
what really happens as the model in volume 3, then possible inconsistencies
between the two volumes are of no great importance either scientifically
or politically.

They are of no great significance scientifically since :

a) they relate to a situation that appears not to
arise in the real world - the formation of an equal rate of
profit independent of capital compositions

b) the attempt to produce a deterministic theory of prices
was in any case a sidetrack, albeit a track that theory
was constrained to go down in a pre-Boltzman era.

The inconsistencies also lose their political impact, since
we can now defend the theory of exploitation much more robustly:
that we have strong empirical evidence for the labour theory
of value. There are other factors which influence prices,
rent on land and on certain types of skilled labour, and to
some extent differences in capital composition, but through
this noise, the signal of labour values still shows through

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)