Re: [OPE] Bhaskar as Marx's method?

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Feb 08 2011 - 06:49:41 EST

On 8 February 2011 00:20, Jurriaan Bendien <>wrote:

> Some neo-Ricardians conceptualise the equilibrium production price as the
> price of an output or commodity which it would have, if (1) supply and
> demand were equal, and if (2) the product-price level meant that the
> average
> rate of profit on production capital is reached. But this price is a purely
> theoretical price level, and one of the two conditions might exist, but not
> the other.
> The argument then is, that the theoretical price level is an "attractor"
> for
> the observed distribution of prices, so that a homoskedastic distribution
> obtains along the curve of the theoretical price.
> The trouble though is that the theoretical price level does not exist in
> reality, so how then can it be an "attractor" at all? What causal force can
> it have?

While I think you are right to question what effects the hypothesized
attractors of 'production prices' may have in real capitalist economies, the
objection that a theoretical entity is not 'real' is wrong. On this ground
one would have to dismiss some of the most successful developments in
physics, e.g. the probability amplitudes used in quantum
electrodynamics. Whether we can deem an entity as 'real' depends on whether
we can deduce and reliably predict some empirical consequences from it.

What we call 'center of gravity' is theoretical entity that models a real
entity. We say this because we can deduce and reliably predict numerous
empirical consequences from it. Often, however, the predictions have to be
made in conjunction with several additional entities such as dynamical laws
etc. I.e. empirical outcomes are often the outcome of several such entities
in conjunction, and in some settings it is possible to isolate their
individual operation to test this.

What Ian's recent model does is isolate certain real mechanisms embedded in
real capitalist economies by significantly reducing the degrees of
freedom---crucially, assuming one price per commodity-type; no technical
change; and no change of consumption patterns. Then he provides model for
the market competition and allocation process and studies its isolated
effects. The results indicate that there is an attractor point in the phase
space of the system arising from the competition process itself. (A point
with persistent unemployment, equalized flow rates of profit, parasitism

The question is what effects the attractor may have once you begin to
increase the degrees of freedom? Ian's statistical model of a capitalist
economy --- which I consider to be one of the best theoretical works in
Marxist political economy in decades --- indicates some possible

//Dave Z

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Received on Tue Feb 8 06:52:34 2011

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