[OPE-L:6601] [OPE-L:62] Re: LTV and accounting [Brickell]

Alan Freeman (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 11:48:45 +0200

I would love to find a group of radical accountants. There is a second
best, which is perhaps even better than the first best. This is the radical
statistics group in the UK. They have a list, which I belong to. They hold
conferences, which I come to. And they make books, which I write for.
Julian introduced me to them and hopefully, he can tell you how to join. I
think they are excellent people, from my experience of them.

Is radstats perhaps what happened to the radical accountants? Or is this a
distinct group. Julian might know.


Alejandro Ramos wrote:
> Thanks to Mike who have joined John tracking down Brickell's book.
> Mike: "In the 1970s there used to be in the UK a group of 'Radical
> Accountants', for whose conferences I remember seeing publicity.
> Perhaps Brickel is/was one of them?"
> Alan Freeman should have had a seat in those Conferences...
> The issue of "labor theory of value" and "accounting practice" sounds
> interesting to me. In fact, Brickell's title caught my attention (do you
> say this in English?) because I had been reading Duncan's Understanding
> Capital, specifically, the chapter on The Reproduction of Capital.
> Duncan writes:
> "All the circuit of capitals variables for a real capitalist firm... can be
> determined from ordinary accounting data. Indeed, it is striking that the
> ordinary convention of capitalist accounting reflect the labor theory of
> value concepts so faithfully. This circumstance arises because both the
> labor theory of value and accounting practice insist on the strict rule of
> conservation of value except in production itself...
> [Why "except in production itself"?]
> "For example, the value of productive capital has to be the sum of all past
> capital outlays less the sum of the values all finished products that have
> emerged from the production process. The wages paid to workers for work on
> partly finished products are allocated by accountants to the value of
> inventories of partially finished goods, in order to maintain this strict
> relation between stocks and flows of value." Understanding Capital, p. 69.
> [The "strict relation" Duncan mentions is not clear to me. I think he's
> saying that the accounting practice tries to track and "to conserve" any
> amount of value, "reallocating" sums of value in accordance with the
> different phases of the circuit.]
> I think Duncan is quite right about the fact that both Marx and the
> accounting practice work with a "conservation principle". Actually, the
> accounting practice only reflects the "conservation principle" the
> capitalists need daily in order to track the value they are advancing and
> "valorising", i.e. to follow the dynamic of value over time, as Andrew has
> suggested recently.
> Now then, people like Joan Robinson or Schumpeter found that that Marx's
> conservation principle is "metaphysical" and should be discarded as a
> Aristotelian unfashionable remaining, not fitted to be classified as
> "Science". But, what would tell Joan Robinson or Schumpeter to an
> accountant about his/her ordinary practice, also based in a "conservation
> principle"? Had they suggested also that s/he should abandon the
> "metaphysical conservation principle"? What would say a capitalist about this?
> Maybe Brickell deals with this but, in any case, we might follow the method
> proposed by a character in a Borges's story: They know about a book but
> they couldn't find it, so someone proposes to re-write the book! I think
> Duncan's passage is an excellent start for it.
> Alejandro Ramos