[OPE-L:5616] RE: Karl Marx in _The New Yorker_

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@CLASSIC.MSN.COM)
Thu, 16 Oct 97 18:52:52 UT

[ show plain text ]

This is my letter to the _New Yorker_:

October 16, 1997

Dear Editor,

John Cassidy's stimulating essay ("Return of Karl Marx," October 20th-27th)
points out that the conception of capitalism that resonates with
businesspeople is that of Marx, not mainstream economics. What explains this,
I think (as an economist), is that the forerunners of modern economics were
often more interested in justifying the system than in understanding it.
Whereas Marx was at pains to situate it in its historical context, they
typically sought to portray it as natural and everlasting, thereby producing a
thin, decontexualized, picture of the economy.

One quibble with Cassidy's account: although conventional wisdom had indeed
held that Marx's theory of economic value is "riven with internal
inconsistencies," many specialists in this field have since shown that the
inconsistencies stem from attempts to recast it in terms of subsequent
"general equilibrium theory," not from the original theory itself. Whether
right or wrong, the theory's alleged logical defects vanish once the
analytical device of general equilibrium a construct perhaps as foreign to
businesspeople as any aspect of modern economics is removed.


Andrew Kliman

Assistant Professor, Economics
Department of Social Sciences
Pace University
861 Bedford Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570-2799
(914) 773-3951

60 W. 76th St., #4E
New York, NY 10023
(212) 580-0206