RE: [OPE-L] [JERRY] Disagreement or dismissal? [was:commodities/

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@CLASSIC.MSN.COM)
Mon, 2 Feb 98 18:53:24 UT

A reply to the PIAF:

From: on behalf of Michael Williams
Sent: Monday, February 02, 1998 5:13 AM
Subject: RE: [OPE-L] [JERRY] Disagreement or dismissal? [was:commodities/

"Hi Andrew:"

Hi Mike.

"I have no doubt that TSS has been suppressed - although not having tried to
publish papers from this standpoint myself, I am only gradually picking up the
details of this. The quotes round 'suppressed' were not "scare quotes", merely
a sign that I was quoting exactly from Alan's para. to which I was


"And the question mark was merely a query about whether the suppression had
stemmed mainly from US 'radical economics'."

OK. I hope I've answered that. I wanted to make clear that more is involved
here than normal (and normally repugnant) "gatekeeping."

"I think I know what Andrew means here (and I am sure he will correct me if I
appear to misrepresent him in the smallest detail), ...."

One person's smallest detail is another's key distinction.

"1. I imagine most people on this list have been subjected - in my case
continually since 1975 - to discriminatory gatekeeping by bourgeois academia."

Right. That's why I took issue with the "smallest detail." The suppression
of Marx's own value theory, even in the guise of keeping the TSS
interpretation outside the gates, is not reducible to discriminatory

The latter, of course, is *part* of what's involved. But in this case we're
not merely dealing with one academic clique warring against another. We're
dealing with the suppression of a (Marx's) world-historic challenge to the
capitalist mode of production and its thought. (Pardon me if this sounds high
falutin; I simply don't know how else to put it.) We're also dealing with the
fact, as Alan recently mentioned, that Marx's putative friends in fact serve
the function of being his worst enemies. This disguises and confuses the
issues, making the suppression seem "objective." Finally, this suppression is
justified in a way different from the way one academic clique typically
justifies its suppression of another (e.g., "this is not important"; "we
already know that"; "we are able to deal with that better than they can"; or
simple silence, if they can get away with it): there is no need to assess the
truth-value of Marx's value theory because it has been proven to be internally
inconsistent and *therefore*, even without further discussion or evidence, we
already know it cannot be true.

"2. Many of us will also have been marginalised by the 'Marxist Economics'

True. Reprehensible. We've continually spoken out against that. But *my*
main concern is really not the suppression of any of us, or even the
suppression of Marx's value theory per se, but the *falsity* of the
justification given for this suppression. If it were true that Marx's value
theory has been proven to be internally inconsistent, then it would indeed be
impossible for it to be true. It would therefore *rightly* drop out of the
running. So the problem isn't that claims of internal inconsistency are made,
but that the claims are false. (This doesn't rule out the possibility that
some claim might be proven in the future. But, on general methodological
grounds, and in light of the history of the debate, I insist that the burden
of proof rests on those who make the claim, not on their victim.)

"3. This is all inevitable: if you are not orthodox, you are heterodox, and
so, per definition, marginalised."

Well, there are degrees of marginalization, and orthodoxy also changes, so I
really don't agree. For instance, was Keynes marginalized? I think the
answer is "no, then yes." Was Copernicus marginalized? I think the answer is
"yes, then no."

"I do not advocate not fighting this suppression of thought, but

"a) I think that this is best done by plugging away with the substantive
arguments (which TSS does - bravo!), rather than by
procedural whinges about an exclusion from this Journal here and that
conference there."

I do not accept the dichotomy between "substantive arguments" and "procedural
whinges." (BTW, I looked up "whinge"; it's Scottish, it means "to whine.")
Mike suggests that fighting the suppression "is best done by plugging away
with the substantive arguments." But why? And where's the evidence?

If the point is the old chestnut that you overtake one theory with a better
theory, then I don't think that's true in general. In the realm of political
economy -- including "Marxian economics" -- class interests and "effective"
policy implications, and not usually truth, dictate what the ruling theory
will be.

In the present case, moreover, the "substantive argument" tack (if I
understand it) allows the suppressers to be the judge and jury of what is a
better theory! We are evidently supposed to PERSUADE AND CONVINCE others that
Marx's theory is "right" or "useful" or something. No thanks. I demand an
end to the suppression of Marx's work and the correction of the historical
record, even if those who are compelled to concede these things continue to
disagree with his value theory, find it worthless, etc.

Indeed, if the TSS interpretation were to become accepted because we persuade
people that Marx was "right," or that the interpretation is "fruitful" or
"useful," then I think we would have won the battle but lost the war. The
underlying logic of suppression would remain intact, and merely be applied to
different enemies. That's the opposite of what I want. So, in this case, the
procedural IS the substantive.

"c) [there was no b) -- AJK] However, I defend TSSers right to carry on the
procedural battle, which is not without value. My intervention now is just my
personal whinge: I don't like my enjoyment of the very high standard
intellectual and political debate on OPE-L being swamped
with harangues about the suppression of Marx via the suppression of TSS, every
time someone wants to press an argument
that might at some time have to confront the issue of exactly what Marx wrote
and intended on relevant matters. That is not only a nuisance, but could be
felt by some as bullying, although I am sure it is not so intended."

I think this is a strawman. Who has swamped anyone "with harangues ... every
time someone wants to press an argument that might at some time have to
confront the issue of exactly what Marx wrote and intended on relevant
matters"? It seems to me that TSS research, as much as or even more than most
others, is in continual confrontation with "the issue of exactly what Marx
wrote and intended on relevant matters."

Perhaps this is a reference to the productive labor discussion. I've just
re-read Mike's posts on this, and I have absolutely no "procedural" objections
to them. (I do have a comment on the "substance," which I'll post
separately.) I'm not sure that Alan did either; in fact, it seems to me
pretty clear what, and who, Alan was criticizing.

I don't think anyone objects to suggestions that Marx may have been internally
inconsistent, such as Mike raised. (I do, however, demand proof before I'll
concur.) Elsewhere in the discussion, however, suppression of Marx, whether
intentional or not, *was* taking place. I therefore found Alan's comments
exposing the discourse of suppression most welcome and insightful.

"Got it?"

I hope so. Have you?


Andrew Kliman