[OPE-L:6602] [OPE-L:63] Re: Re: LTV and accounting [Brickell]

michael perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 08:36:44 -0700

There is/was a group accountants for social change. I may have the title wrong.
One of its people was/is on pen-l.

Alan Freeman wrote:

> 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.
> Alan
> 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

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu