(OPE-L) how simple is too simple?

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 19:40:08 EDT

Hi Ian.

> Well it is a special case of simple commodity production, like a
> Bernoulli process is a special case of a Markov process, or a circle
> is a special case of an ellipse. But I understand if you think this
> case too simple to tackle the issue at hand ...

At the risk of starting something that I know I won't be able
to finish ...

I think I agree with Ajit on this one.

What type of production -- simple commodity or otherwise -- can
one have without (produced) means of production?

I think your analogies above are off-base and misleading.  The
issue is: what are the minimal institutional requirements and
specifications for a model (in this case, of simple commodity
production)?  Without such a specification then we can all too
easily replicate Walrasian fantasies that have little or no connection
to the subject matter that we wish to understand (which is
capitalism rather than SCP).  We need to remember the maxim
of GIGO.

What are the _minimal_ requirements for a model -- or numerical
illustration -- that purports to represent a capitalist economy?

Here's my list:

a) two classes -- capitalists and wage-workers

b) money and circulation

c) multi-commodity production

d) more than one sector (among other reasons, to avoid the
'knife-edge' problem which 1-sector models exhibit)

e) c

f) v

g) s

h) c, v, and s are all positive (i.e. greater than -0-)

Even numerical illustrations of 'simple reproduction' should
satisfy  these requirements.

Anything less, is just _too_ simple (even though Marx
was known to, in passing, assume c = -0-).  In any event,
we  should strive to go _beyond_ these minimal requirements
by e.g. having (dynamic!) models with _more than_ 2
sectors,  having _both_ constant fixed capital (which _depreciates_,
both physically _and_ morally) and constant circulating capital,
includes a state sector, etc.  Theory (especially Marxian after all
of these years!) should attempt to become _more_ realistic, not

In solidarity, Jerry

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