Re: [OPE-L] Any which way but Marx's

jurriaan bendien (
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 18:29:40 +0100

I apologise to Allan if my turn of phrase caused offence. But it does
to me that Marx's concepts and definitions are often not crystal clear or
not finished, and that is precisely why there has been such a lot
of debate about them.

Alan writes:
> If Marx doesn't offer any solution to the accounting problem, then this
[Alan's project] is
> a ridiculous fantasy and should be scrapped.

I don't agree. You can acknowledge there are ambiguities or unclarities
Marx while at the same time adopting his basic approach.

Alan writes:
> if it is true as you
> asserted earlier that it has 'emerged from the debate' that Marx is
> inconsistent, then there can be no way to do the accounts without
> departing from his analysis. Otherwise he wouldn't be inconsistent, would
> he?

I pointed out that not all the definitions of productive labour Marx gives
as mutually consistent. But that does not invalidate a Marxian approach to
national accounts, it merely means you have to find a consistent
Marx's argument is that some labour is not productive of value and
surplus-value, even although it may take the form of surplus-labour.
Rather this labour transfers surplus-value produced elsewhere, enabling
capitalists to appropriate it. The cost of this labour is its reproduction
cost. The question is then, how does this labour (e.g. circulation labour
costs) enter into the value of the total commodity product ? To this
question Marx does not give an explicit answer.