Re: [OPE] NMEC (was free competition)

From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Date: Thu Apr 14 2011 - 16:22:44 EDT

Prof. Bapuji,

I prefer actually to stay away from invective. But I have to deal with people engaging in tactics which I think are intellectually dishonest.

Jerry Levy claims free competition is a myth, and that Marx believed this, but anyway Marx supposedly never talked about free competition. When I point out this interpretation of Marx is simply false, he scurrilously tries with a few selected quotations (or dictionary definitions) taken out of context, to prove that he is right anyway!

Jerry never researched this thoroughly before, he just makes it up as he goes along. Point is, because he, Jerry, had stated that "free competition is a myth", then, therefore, free competition is a myth, period; and if anybody disagrees with that, they are just (sic.) wrong! And if Jerry says that Marx didn't believe that free competition ever existed, then Jerry is right, no matter what the actual text says! And if the text flatly contradicts what Jerry says, the text is being interpreted wrongly, because read correctly, it totally agrees with what Jerry says!

If you accept Jerry's tyrannical "I am always right" approach to scholarly discourse, you forfeit your own intellectual right to exist, and no learning can take place, only Jerry's propaganda feed!

This is precisely the sort of problem that killed Marxian scholarship - Marxists who never studied anything much, but think they are standing on the shoulders of Karl Marx directing the course of world history, or at the very least directing "Marxist studies"! No wonder they're being hounded out of the academy, or at any rate never get a raise or a promotion!

Let us suppose, hypothetically, that Jerry is correct with his dictionary definition about state interference...

The fact still remains that in reality, "free competition" carried a different meaning in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century than it does today, because the nature of capitalist business and the state was different from what it is today. The ability of the state to regulate business competition was much less, particularly in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, simply because a well-financed, centralized public administration capable of implementing a coherent set of policies in the empires *did not exist*, any more than integrated capital markets existed.

Local government was limited in what it could enforce - and indeed that was one of the causes of the 19th century reform movements (see further e.g. Engels's book The condition of the working class in England)! The rationalization of the machinery of British central government began only with the Economical Reform Movement of the 1780s and gradually increased, across the 19th century (see further: G.K. Fry, The Growth of Government. London: Frank Cass, 1979). How could a million Irish starve in the Irish potato famine while the state did nothing much? Well, that was "free competition", a cut-throat competition to stay alive! (in the Bengal famine of 1770, about a third of the population died - millions more Indians died in the 19th century!).

You can calculate (as I have done) that in 1800, there must have been about one UK civil servant for every 350 or so citizens, which compares to about one public servant for every 93 citizens in 1995. In other words there were, in 1995, proportionally justabout four times as many public servants for the UK population than there were in 1800 (the calculation varies a bit on whether you include only sworn public servants, or, also, add all people indirectly employed by the state in some or other form).

Across the 19th century, government expenditure in the main OECD countries correspondly rose from an average of about 5% of GDP to about 10%, it reached 20% in the 1920s, 40% in the 1970s and 45% in the 1990s (Vito Tanzi and Ludger Schuknecht, Government spending in the 20th century. A global perspective. Cambridge University Press, 2000).

The significance of all this is lost on Jerry however... Believe me, when you dare to question the sacred Marxist-Leninist ideology, they really hate you!


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Received on Thu Apr 14 16:23:48 2011

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