Re: [OPE-L] Che Guevara and the Sraffian notion of profit

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon May 07 2007 - 07:54:09 EDT

Sraffas wholism is certainly more advanced than the Hegelian version,
but with respect to the idea of unifying matrix mechanics with
Sraffas formalism, the big problem is that Sraffas matrices, unlike
Heisenbergs, are not unitary, and as such do not express conservation

To make them unitary you would have to include as an input and
output of the coal industry for example 'coal in the ground'.
The operation of the production system would then be conservative
since it would not appear to make matter appear from nowhere.
Of course, from the standpoint of classical PE coal in the ground
is not a commodity and has no value, and Sraffa was concerned
only with the commodities that enter the production process.
A socialist planning system on the other hand ought to consider
the coal in the ground as an input to the process if it was
to rationally project future states of the economy based on
exhaustion of physical resources.

Paul Cockshott

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of ajit sinha
Sent: Mon 5/7/2007 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Che Guevara and the Sraffian notion of profit
--- Paul Cockshott <clyder@GN.APC.ORG> wrote:

> Ajit recently emphasises how, in the Sraffian
> system, the profitability
> of the economy is determined by
> the standard system ( formally as the inverse of its
> principle
> eigenvalue ), this idea that profitability is
> a structural property of the system as a whole is
> clearly quite distinct
> from the Austrian concept
> of profitability as being locally generated in the
> individual enterprise.
> Reading the following passage from MAtinez article:
> Le concept de planification socialiste dans le
> système de Guevara est
> étroitement lié au concept de rentabilité du système
> productif entier.
> L'efficacité de l'économie socialiste n'est pas les
> résultats de
> l'addition mécanique 'entreprises individuelles. Un
> équilibre positif
> dans la somme arithmétique des profits individuels
> est possible dans le
> système capitaliste pendant les temps d'expansion,
> bien que cela
> devienne négatif dans les tems de récession.
> Indépendamment du fait, que
> le système productif socialiste ne connaît pas la
> récession ou les
> crises, le système productif socialiste montrent les
> taux de croissance
> les plus grands non pas parce que l'accumulation
> arithmétique de
> rentabilité individuelle s'élève à un équilibre
> positif. L'avantage du
> mode socialiste de production sur le capitalisme se
> trouve dans le
> caractère projeté de l'économie, que l'état
> socialiste est dans une
> position pour décider à l'échelle du système
> productif entier, non la
> coordination de producteurs individuels, mais le
> règlement du flux de
> travail parmi les entreprises socialistes. Tandis
> qu'il st d'une
> importance primordiale que l'unité productive soit
> le plus profitable au
> moyen de la réduction maximale des dépenses de
> production, l'efficacité
> de l'économie doit être évaluée dans l'ensemble.
>     ' Puisque ce système est basé sur le contrôle
> central de l'économie,
>     l'efficacité relative d'une entreprise
> deviendrait juste un index;
>     ce qui importe vraiment est la rentabilité
> totale du système
>     productif entier ' (Che Guevara, op. cit. dans '
> des Considérations
>     sur les Dépenses, p. 48. Traduit de l'Espagnol.)
> I was struck by the similarity of the concept here
> to that in Sraffa.
> Probably both have the same origins, in the insights
> engendered by
> the early efforts of Gosplan to construct systems of
> material balances
> for the economy as a whole.
This is an interesting speculation. However, on 26th
of November 1927, Sraffa in a note entitled
'Metaphysics', wrote: "I foresee that the ultimate
result will be a restatement of Marx, by substituting
to his Hegelian metaphysics and terminology our own
modern metaphysics and terminology. ..." You can see
an exchange between de Vivo and myself on this note in
'Contributions to Political Economy' 2006. Even
Gragenani has a long footnote against de Vivo's
interpretation in his 2005 paper in EJHET. In any
case, after my recent discovery of the idea of equal
rate of profits in Sraffa's scheme, which happened
only in early last February, I'm beginning to
understand the direction of thought Sraffa might have
started to take as early as late 1927. Though Marx
talks about wholism in an Hegelian language, when it
comes to making economic arguments, he had no way of
carrying it through and thus had to revert back to the
classical notion of newtonian mechanics, which was
part of classical economics. Sraffa, in a way,
reestablishes the notion of wholism in terms of modern
metaphysics and terminology. Cheers, ajit sinha

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