[OPE-L:6421] Re: Creationist Economics [Was: What do you teach in your Micro

Paul Cockshott (wpc@faraday.org)
Mon, 06 Apr 1998 10:00:31 +0100

Alan Freeman wrote:

> I am very pleased Ajit gives his students access to Kalecki, IMO one of
> the century's outstanding temporal thinkers. I have learned a great deal
> from his ideas. I am interested to know if Ajit's students learn that
> these ideas are meaningless!

I should not speak for Ajit, but for myself I find it impossible to takethe
TSS seriously as an exercise in economic dynamics.

1. It is designed to answer what is essentially a static equilibrium
problem - what would be the set of prices if profit rates equalised
in a dynamic context. But in a dynamic context the problem
never arises in the first place - there is no equal rate of profit.
TSS just introduces this by fiat, but provides no dynamic
adjustment mechanism by which it is to be achieved.

2. Following on form the last point, unlike Kalecki, who formulates
genuine dynamic using differential equations, the TSS has no
genuine dynamics, there is no modeling of
a) capital flows
b) possible imbalances between supply and demand in
material terms
c) no dynamic equations relating rate of change of prices
to supply and demand imbalances
d) no modeling of the underling material economy in terms
of choices of techniques
instead the techniques, prices and rates of profit are simple
imposed externally on the model

> The clash between temporal and static (=equilibrium, =static) ontologies
> and methodologies traverses all of science and for that matter, politics:
> the Copernican (temporalist) view gave us the word 'revolution'.
> The static paradigm is invariably found in alliance with the most
> reactionary social forces of each epoch, who use it to justify the idea
> of an eternal, unchanging order laid down by an untouchable authority.
> Creationism is static Biology. Ptolemaism is static Astronomy.

I think this is grossly unfair to classical astronomy. The issue
ofgeo-centrism versus helio centrism has nothing to do with dynamics.
Both Aristotle and Ptolomy constructed dynamic models
of the solar system. Indeed the classical models were sufficiently
sophisticated for it to be possible to construct dynamic mechanical
computers to make predictions about future astronomical observations.
The 'Antikera Device' an early computer, dating from about the
4th century BC, that was discovered in a shipwreck earlier
this century, incorporated a differential turntable, a mechanism
for computing first order differential equations involved in predicting
the phases of the moon.

In principle, in terms of the mathmatics involved, the antikera device
was no less sophisticated than the Orreries of the 18th ane 19th
centuries used to illustrate the Copernican model of plantary motion.

Where a genuine inovation occured with respect to dynamics,
it was not with Copernicus but with Newton, and his introduction of
the differential calculus and the notion of infinitessimals - which
of course is a more sophisticated mathematical technique than
that used by the TSS.