Re: [OPE] CAPITAL AS POWER: free PDF download

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Wed Dec 01 2010 - 18:39:59 EST

> You really think the Ricardian School disintegrated for THAT reason?

Ricardo's problem of an invariable measure (which shares exactly the
same theoretical cause as Marx's TP) was part of the reason for
disintegration (not "the" reason or the "only" reason). For example,
Marx pinpoints Mill's "Elements of Political Economy" as the beginning
of the disintegration, specifically his "futile attempts" to "resolve
the contradictions of the Ricardian system".

> Actually, I can't think of any school in the history of political economy/economics
> which disappeared because of a logical problem/issue.  It would be helpful,
> I think, to take a more materialist perspective on the history of thought -
> and to recognize the crucial role that class and class struggles played in
> shaping changes in economic perspective.

Where did I say that class struggles do not play a role in theoretical

But are you saying that the history of the theoretical reflection of
social reality in consciousness is not subject to its own laws of
development that have a degree of autonomy from the economic base? If
so, that is not a view I share. Political economy does throw up
genuine scientific problems that baffle and endure. It's not all false

> I dispute that. If you listen carefully to what they wrote, their reasons
> for rejection of value theory were not primarily due to the TP - and, I guess
> I'm older than you - I did live through those debates.

I guess we will have to disagree, since it seems to me that the TP has
had a massive impact. You yourself have complained of the unending and
voluminous literature on the subject.

> Well, what they are largely asking about are Marxian explanations for the
> crisis. Don't you agree?

Yes I do.

> I certainly don't see evidence of a renewed interest in the TP among people who were
> not already interested in that issue.

There is renewed interest, but agreed it is not the focus or
forefront. But how these conversations proceed is as much a function
of you (or me), the specific circumstances and the goal of the
interaction as it is the consciousness of the other person.

> no, but ... !BASTA!  Isn't 120 odd years talking about the TP enough???

Why do you think a scientific problem has a time limit?

Clearly, you are tired of it -- that I understand. What I do not
understand is your desire to bury it. Perhaps you do not think it is a
real theoretical problem? If so, that is also a view I do not share.

> Maybe there's a social psychological or cultural explanation that needs
> developing: e.g. writing an article on the TP might be viewed as a
> "rite of passage" for young Marxian scholars?

I think a better explanation is that, for anyone who wants to work on
the theory of economic value, upon entering that field they will be
exposed to outstanding problems and unresolved theoretical issues. If
the TP were truly resolved or a non-problem there would be no need to
work on it.

For the sake of clarity, I should point out that I do not devote all
my time working on the TP, and neither is "solving it" the goal of my

> Interestingly, those who have written about the TP - for the most part -
> don't continue to work in that area. Anu moved on. David L moved on. Duncan,
> Gerard, and Dominique moved on. Bruce and Hans moved on. Even (thank the
> Lord!) Andrew K has begun to move on.  Steedman and other critics have moved
> on. Most of the forenamed scholars will tell you, frankly, that the TP debate
> just isn't very interesting.

Well, maybe so, but if I paid any attention to what the majority of
people thought I of course wouldn't be working in this area at all.
For what it's worth, given my background in Artificial Intelligence, I
think I can bring a new perspective to these issues.

In my view, the TP is a real scientific problem that is an obstacle to
understanding the relationship between monetary and material
phenomena. Returning to the original topic, Nitzan & Belcher have also
seen the history of this theoretical obstacle, and -- it seems to me
-- decided that the whole attempt to link money and abstract labor (or
any material thing) is misguided. So part of the reason for their
rejection is the TP.

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Received on Wed Dec 1 18:42:01 2010

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