[OPE-L:7020] [OPE-L:514] Announcing: TT/CS

David Laibman (DLaibman@brooklyn.cuny.edu)
Thu, 25 Feb 99 12:52:00 EST

Dear OPE,

Andrew is very impatient. He says that if I do not come up with a name
for my position, it will just have to be good old simultaneism. That is
apparently, in his view, *his* decision to make, not mine! This, despite all
of the talk about IWG rules of discourse, etc. etc. Alejandro, in a very
different spirit, says that the real issue is simultaneism vs.
non-simultaneism. Well, I don't think so; and that is precisely the point.
And Alan makes a plea that we search for labels for theories, not
individuals. Again, I appreciate the spirit, but since individuals subscribe
to particular theories I am not sure it gets to the heart of the matter.

So. Here goes! The *inquiry* in value theory which I find to be
singularly fruitful and hope to pursue, and with which I do not mind being
identified, may be called:

*T*heoretical *T*ime / *C*onsistent *S*tructure

Explanation. First, time, like all essential aspects of reality, must
be theorized; that is, different processes and activities are captured in
their most fundamental aspects by being placed on different levels of
time-abstraction. This sounds mysterious, but an example should make clear
what I have in mind. The competitive shaping of value under specific
(capitalist) production relations involves what Marx captured in his "pooling
and redistribution" metaphor, and to grasp the full force of this requires
that we (theoretically) imagine it being played out *over time*, while
*other* processes -- such as class polarization, accumulation and technical
change -- are held constant. Thus, on this plane of analysis value formation
takes place *at one level of time,* while deeper levels are (theoretically)
frozen. Time enters the theory hierarchically; this is the sense in which
time is treated theoretically -- hence, TT.

Next. Value theory is about the underlying *structure* of capitalist
social relations, that is, their inner essence (use of this category is not
equivalent to "essentialism") stripped of fortuitous and accidental aspects.
Identifying this skeletal structure, as captured by benchmark configurations
or centers of gravitation, is at the heart of scientific method, and is what
enables us (in principle!) to distinguish between immanent tendency and
historical accident; to find the unavoidable core of a given social reality
and its necessary paths of development. Values, then, are (among other
things) what really existing prices would tend to in given social/technical
conditions, were those conditions held constant so that the inner reality
represented by value were allowed to reveal itself. They never are, and it
never is! But that is precisely why we *need* value theory. Hence, CS.

And thus: TT/CS.

So from now on -- and pending further evolution in my own thinking and
self-designation -- I would like my position to be referred to as the TT/CS

This will at least help us to avoid the sterile (and neologistic)
"simultaneist/non-simultaneist" dichotomy, as well as the canard that I or
anyone else thinks that *production* is a timeless process, that inputs are
purchased and outputs sold simultaneously, etc. etc., or any of these other
"simultaneist" gems that it would be insulting to foist onto me -- *let
alone* onto Marx!

best to all,


David Laibman