Re: [OPE] "lies, damned lies, and underconsumptionist statistics"

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Sat Sep 25 2010 - 15:16:38 EDT

Jurrian writes

I do not have a "physicalist" theory of property or a "physicalist" theory
of capital. I consider such theories as mechanical materialism. I don't
propose to reduce social reality to social accounting.

Paul C
I think mechanics gets a bad press among Marxists because of some of
Freds rather ill considered remarks. I really don't see how you can be
a materialist without taking the main branches of mechanics very seriously.

I am not quite sure what you mean by a physicalist theory of property
and capital. I dont think that physics tells you very much about property
per se, though I do think that there are interesting parallels between
commodity exchange relationships and the mathematics of Hilbert space
which underlies quantum mechanics. On the other hand physics
is quite relevant to capital, and a physical approach to it helps keep
your feet on the ground when thinking about it.

There is a fundamental difference of type between a million kilos
of grain on the one hand, and a loan contract for $1,000,000.
The million kilos have a physical existence that required the expenditure
of labour and energy to produce. The loan contract also has a physical
existence, it is a document that physically exists. It too required
labour and energy to produce. But, and this is the crucial economic
and physical distinction, a loan contract for $2,000,000 requires
the same labour and energy as one for $1,000,000. All that is different
is that you write a 2 instead of a 1. But to produce 2 million kilos of
grain requires twice as much energy as the 1 million kilos.


The residential property and the mortgage contract can be traded
independently of each other, and yield income independently of each other.

I can not speak for Dutch law, but that is certainly not true under Scots law.
If the bank has a charge levied against my house I am no longer free to trade
and dispose of it. The register of sassines keeps a record of the charge and
any contract of sale that I enter into has to be notified to the bank and the
bank has a prior right to any revenues that result from the sale, up to the
limit of the charge.

On the other side the illusion that mortgages were an asset independent of the houses to
which they pertained, was at the heart of the sub-prime loans crisis and the near
collapse of the US and UK banking systems.

As I noted before, Marx distinguishes between "real" capital and money
capital, and within money capital, between real money and fictitious

But just because money capital exists only as money, as a financial claim,
it doesn't mean that it does not exist.

To make any progress, you have to overthrow the intellectual traditions of
English Trotskyism, French Althusserianism, German Frankfurterism, American
Harveyism and Japanese Unoism and provide a better alternative. The
traditions of the dead generations weigh like nightmares upon the living.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Jurriaan Bendien" <>; "Outline on Political Econo
my mailing list" <>
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 12:50 PM
Subject: RE: [OPE] "lies, damned lies, and underconsumptionist statistics"

You have to bw vey carefully to avoid double counting with financial assets.
If you include both residential property and mortgage loans then that would
surely be double counting.

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401
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Received on Sat Sep 25 15:18:05 2010

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