# [OPE-L:3938] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Mon Oct 02 2000 - 13:48:46 EDT

```At the risk of insulting Fred, might I suggest that one reason for the
impasse with Ajit is over Fred's use of the word "proportional" to
characterise the relationship between S and L in the formula:

S = (m.L - V)

which (correct me if I'mn wrong, but...) Fred agrees characterises his theory?

Strictly speaking, this formula can only be "proportional" if V=0. If so,
then for example, if m=2, S= 2*L for all values of S and L. If, however,
V>0, then the "proportionality" this formula gives varies as S and L vary.
For example, if m=2 and V=2 then S/L=0 for L=1, S/L=1 for L=1.5, S/L=2 for
L=2, and so on.

That is not proportionality in the strict meaning of the word.

Cheers,
Steve
At 01:13 PM 10/2/00 +0530, you wrote:
>
>
>Fred B. Moseley wrote:
>
>> This is a reply to Ajit's latest (3900).  Ajit, thanks again.
>>
>> On Fri, 29 Sep 2000, Ajit Sinha wrote:
>>
>> > when a theory takes something as given, it either must take it as
>> > empirically observable in principle or must have a sense that that
>> > variable is determined in a theoretical space that lie outside the scope
>> > of the particular theory.
>> Fred:
>> No, Ajit, that is YOUR understanding of the nature of an economic theory -
>> that its givens must be explained OUTSIDE THE SCOPE of the theory
>> (i.e. that a theory is characterized by a strict division between
>> exogenous and exogenous variables).
>>
>> But that is not the only kind of economic theory.  I think that Marx's
>> theory is a different kind of theory.  I that think in Marx's theory, some
>> variables are initially taken as given and then later explained within the
>> theory.  I have argued that constant capital and variable capital are
>> variables of this nature.  So is m.  I think this is one of the senses in
>> which Marx's logical method can be described as "positing the
>> presuppositions".  The presuppositions are initially taken as given, and
>> then the presuppositions are posited.  The variables that are initially
>> taken as given (C, V, and m) are not determined outside the scope of the
>> theory, but rather inside the theory.  But not explained immediately, at
>> the beginning stages of the theory.  Rather the explanation of these
>> initial givens comes at later stages of the theory.
>>
>> It seems to me that a theory that eventually explains its initial givens
>> from within the theory is better than a theory that does not explain its
>> initial givens at all. .
>>
>> So, Ajit, you cannot just decree, by methodological fiat, that the initial
>> givens of a theory must be explained outside the scope of a theory.  There
>> are other types of theories that are permissible, and even seem to be
>> preferable.    It is entirely legitimate to take m as given in Marx's
>> theory.
>
>______________________
>
>Fred, your statement that "Marx's logical method can be described as
"positing the
>presuppositions".  The presuppositions are initially taken as given, and
>then the presuppositions are posited" makes absolutely no sense. What you
take as
>given or what you posit are pretty much the same thing. So i'm really not
sure what
>is your understanding of "Marx's logical method". In any case, it seems to
me that
>you are trying to make some kind of dialectical argument here. You see, in
Hegel's
>dialectical logic what is posited or presupposed is later revealed as a
result or
>conclusion of the logic because his logic is both totalizing and circular.
Hegel
>cannot leave anything outside, given the totalizing nature of his logic,
and the
>object of his mediation is mediation itself. Nothing of this sort is the
issue in
>debate with us.
>
>In anycase, your statement that "I that think in Marx's theory, some
>variables are initially taken as given and then later explained within the
>theory.  I have argued that constant capital and variable capital are
>variables of this nature.  So is m." has been proven wrong by me
repeatedly. In your
>theory you are unable to explain m either from within the theory or
outside of it.
>All you have to say is that Marx assumes it to be given. But that is not what
>anybody, even the Hegelians, understand by "and then later explained
within the
>theory". So you do not have an explanation of what your theory was
supposed to
>explain. And that is the problem, which you don't seem to recognize.
>_____________________
>
>>
>> Ajit:
>> > But your "m" is simply unknowable, though all
>> > your other quantitative variables depend upon its value. And this is not
>> > legitimate by the standard o any theory I know of.
>> Fred:
>> Several points in response:
>>
>> 1.  I did not say that m is in principle unknowable.  Only that we don't
>> yet have a theory of m.  Actually, we have some ideas about how m is
>> determined with commodity money (as the price of production of gold), but
>> we have less idea about how m is determined with paper money.  But I think
>> that such a theory of m with paper money can and should be developed.
>
>_____________________________
>
>If you "don't yet have a theory of m" now, then you don't have a theory of
anything
>that depends on m now either. Whether you will have a theory of something
in future
>is not what we are debating. As far as "Actually, we have some ideas about
how m is
>determined with commodity money (as the price of production of gold)" is
concerned,
>as i had already shown many posts earlier, which you cut off and never
responded to,
>that in this case you will need to know the whole of Sraffa's basic
input-output
>system to even get that. And so your whole argument that Marx does not
take physical
criticisms
>carefully. If you care to let all my criticisms stand in their context and
respond
>to them all as i do with yours, we will not have to go round and round in
such
>frustrating circles.
>_________________________
>
>>
>> Fred:
>> 2.  Even though the absolute magnitudes of the monetary variables depend
>> on m, the ratios among the monetary variables do not depend on m.  And the
>> ratios (e.g. the rate of surplus-value, the rate of profit, etc.) are what
>> is important for Marx's theory.  More on this point below.
>
>_______________________
>
>This has been proven wrong by me, Gil, and Paul C. It involves elementary
>mathematics. So I don't understand why you keep repeating something that
has been
>proven to be false.
>_______________
>
>>  Fred:
>>
>> 3.  In addition, as I have emphasized in previous posts, there are the
>> other important qualitative conclusions of Marx's theory which also do not
>> depend on the determination of m, e.g. the conflict over the working
>> day.   Whatever determines m, it remains true that a longer working day
>> will produce more money new-value than a shorter working day.  Hence, it
>> follows from the labor theory of value that  there is an inherent conflict
>> in capitalism over the length of the working day.  It is not necessary to
>> provide a complete explanation of the determination of m in order to
>> conclude from the labor theory of value that there is a conflict over the
>> working day.  More on this point below also.
>
>____________________________
>
>Your theory, which is unable to walk one step, has not explained any of these
>phenomena. And it cannot, because it first needs to stand up and walk
before it
>could explain such things on its basis. My criticism is that your theory is a
>stillborn theory. It cannot explain anything. As far as Marx's theory is
concerned,
>of course those phenomena are explained by Marx, even Steedman would not
dispute
>that. But then your theory is not Marx's theory, you just like to
repeatedly claim
>so. But that has no meaning in itself.
>_________________________
>
>>
>> Fred:
>> In sum, Marx's theory does not become a "theory of nothing" because it
>> does not explain the determination of m.  Marx's theory still provides an
>> explanation of important phenomena, even without the full determination of
>> m.
>
>_________________
>
>It's true with Marx but not with your theory or your interpretation of Marx.
>______________
>
>>
>> Ajit:
>> > Your statement that "If m changes, then all the monetary
>> > variables change proportionally, so that the ratios among these monetary
>> > magnitudes remain the same." is not correct has been proven by me
repeatedly
>> > mathematically, as well as by Gil and Paul C. All you have to do is to
check
>> > your own equations and you will know that this claim of yours is falls.
>> Fred:
>> Ajit, I don't think you have "proven" even a single time that my statement
>> is incorrect.  I don't remember Gil and Paul C. commenting on this
>> particular point either; they can speak for themselves.
>
>_____________________
>
>I think it is absolutely legitimate on my part to feel so frustrated.
Either you are
>not reading my responses or you simply don't care. In the end I'll have to
stop
>repeating, and so you will have the last word! So this is the last time
I'm going to
>prove to you that this statement of yours, which is what gives you a sense
that you
>have got a theory, is simply wrong. Let me quote from your earlier post
first:
>
>"Let my put it another way: As I have summarized several times, the basic
>> conclusion of Marx's theory of surplus-value is that the magnitude of
>> surplus-value (or dM) is PROPORTIONAL to the quantity of surplus
>> labor-time, with m as the FACTOR OF PROPORTIONALITY; i.e.
>>
>>         S = m Ls
>>
>>           = m (L - Ln)
>>
>> where  Ln = V / m."
>
>Now, as you know, in your formulation, in the above three equations L, V, and
>supposedly the given "m" are known. So put the value of Ln in your
equation 2. It
>gives you,
>S = m(L - V/m). This implies that S = (m.L - V). And so from our elementary
>mathematics we know that S is not proportional to m. What is so difficult
>this?
>
>_________________________
>
>>  Fred:
>>
>> I have argued that MARX ASSUMED that a change of m will change all the
>> monetary variables proportionally, from which it follows (as a matter of
>> mathematical logic) that the ratios among the monetary variables (the rate
>> of surplus-value, etc.) will not change.  I even typed out several
>> passages in which Marx explicitly stated both this assumption (a change of
>> m will change all the monetary variables proportionally) and the
>> conclusion derived from it (the ratios among the monetary variables will
>> not change).  You have not responded to these passages.  Instead you
>> repeat empty assertions.
>>
>> In order to "prove" that my statement is incorrect, you have to show
>> either:  (1) that Marx did not assume that a change of m will change all
>> the monetary variables proportionally;  or (2) that the conclusion (the
>> ratios among the monetary variables will not change) does not follow.
>
>____________________________
>
>I don't have to "prove" what Marx assumes or not, because Marx is not in
the dock
>here. As far as your theory or your interpretation of Marx is concerned,
you simply
>cannot "*assume*" that "that a change of m will change all the monetary
variables
>proportionally" since, as I have demonstrated above, the mathematical
formulation of
Marx did
Marx's
>fundamental assumption.
>___________________________
>
>> Fred:
>> So far, you have done neither.  Therefore, you have proved nothing about
>> my statement, despite your repeated assertions.
>
>____________________
>
>Assertions are repeated by you, as anybody can see. I have been repeatedly
proving
>___________________
>
>>
>>
>> > >  Fred:
>> >
>> > > In addition, other conclusions that do not
>> > > have to do with quantitative magnitudes, but rather with important
>> > > qualitative phenomena of capitalist economies (e.g. conflicts over the
>> > > working day and the intensity of labor, inherent technological change,
>> > > etc.) also do not require a theory of the determination of m.
>> >
>> > _______________________
>> > Ajit:
>> > These issues are not under dispute. Our debate is about your
interpretation of
>> > Marx's transformation problem. And as you yourself now accept that these
interpretation', you
>> > have yet again confirmed Steedman critique.
>> Fred:
>> Ajit, you are raising a separate question here.  The question of the last
>> several posts has been: whether the lack of a determination of m renders
>> my interpretation of Marx's theory a "theory of nothing".  I argue, to the
>> contrary, that Marx's theory can still explain these phenomena, even
>> without a full determination of m.  You have not disputed this point, but
>> instead you raise a separate issue - that it is possible to explain these
>> phenomena by another theory.  But the fact that it might be possible to
>> explain these phenomena by another theory does not alter the fact that
>> these phenomena can be explained by Marx's theory, without a full
>> determination of m, which is the point under dispute in the present
>> discussion.
>
>_____________________
>
>I have already taken care of this point above. A stillborn theory cannot
explain
>anything.
>____________________
>
>> Fred:
>> So I conclude that it is entirely legitimate to take m as given in Marx's
>> theory.  Ajit has provided NO convincing reason why this logical procedure
>> is not legitimate.
>
>____________________
>
>If you were carefully reading my responses, you wouldn't say this,
particularly with
>a CAPITAL NO. Cheers, ajit sinha
>
>>
>>
>> Fred
>
>
>
Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
University of Western Sydney Macarthur
Building 11 Room 30,
Goldsmith Avenue, Campbelltown
PO Box 555 Campbelltown NSW 2560
Australia
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
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