[OPE-L:7156] Re: Re: Re: 'Quaderni di Operai Contro' (Vitale) v. Paolo Giussani (fwd)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sun May 12 2002 - 12:40:02 EDT

>  Probably I expressed badly my feeling that we should stop go on 
>looking at the appearence of 'etiquette', or Sprach-Ethik if you 
>wish, and should move forward to a more substantial respect, which 
>means taking seriously the most further away from us of our 
>opponents, first of all looking at what he is actually saying (and 
>this, Rakesh, does not mean simply that the 'other' has to explain 
>himself/herself clearly, it means also that we have to pay attention 
>and that we should avoid to picture him without considering his/her 
>own self-represention).

Dear Riccardo,
Whose self representation have I failed to consider? I think that you 
are saying that I have been impolite to...you? I don't believe that I 
have ever said an impolite word to you or written an impolite word 
about you on OPE-L. I shall continue to praise your work as I always 

Now in terms of your acrimony with Paolo, we Marxists should not 
forget the conditions of work. Paolo is an independent intellectual; 
you are a member and chair of an economics department. It is your job 
to remain in dialogue and debate with other economists. I do not 
think Paolo should be too hard on you for that; at the same time, it 
does seem to me that you characterized Paolo as a fundamentalist 
textualist in comparison to this Vitale who seems to be  a real 
fundamentalist textualist as well as a very obnoxious debater (by the 
way, I think Paolo's paper on the value of labor power is one of the 
great papers which I have read in Marxism).

As for Sraffa, Keynes, Hayek and Schumpeter,

a. I don't see how Sraffa is not a critic of the labor theory of 
value as those who were close to him (Dobb, Meek, Roncaglia) all use 
the Sraffian input-output black box to criticize the labor theory of 
value and proclaim that Sraffa alone 'solves'  the transformation 
problem which took on new importance because it was a way of beating 
Marxists with neo Ricardianism and all that implies.

b. as for Keynes, he would have been much helped--as Homa Katouzian 
has shown-- in his critique of Say's Law and liquidity theory of 
interest if he had not dismissed Marx on the basis of his putatively 
vile basis of personal correspondence; Keynes' own Social Darwinism 
was in fact truly vile; John Toye has demonstrated Keynes's vile and 
monstrous criticism of the british famine laws for attempting to save 
too many Hindu lives. Moreover, the Keynesian system is incapable of 
understanding why govt debt is fictitious capital because it has no 
understanding of what capital is in the first place; and its pivotal 
concept of the declining marginal efficiency of capital is a 
conceptual mess, though it is still treated by Keynesians as a simple 
datum which itself need not be clearly explained. The General Theory 
is a confused and confusing mess.

c. I think you are more interested in Hayek's trade cycle theory than 
his critique of the socialist calculation debate (I may be wrong 
because I know that you have used Schumpeter against Hayek in that 
debate); and in the final analysis explaining disequilibrium by 
monetary over-expansion seems truly mono-causal and unconvincing, 
though again I agree with Hayek's critique of Keynes' 
underconsumptionism. Again Hayek could have developed this critique 
if he had considered Marx's critique of underconsumption, which was 
developed by Grossmann, Mattick and later Shaikh. Politically of 
course no Marxist agrees with Hayek's underconsumptionism because 
workers should never allow the crisis to be resolved on their own 
backs, but workers then do need to realize that direct or social wage 
gains (as well as their acceptance of direct or social wage cuts) 
will not free capitalism of its cycles and catastropes.

d. as for Schumpeter, of course he was interesting insofar as he was 
deeply influenced by Marx. But wasn't it Semmler who underlined that 
Schumpeter simply conflated surplus value as such with innovator's 
profit which is in fact *extra* surplus value. It's an elementary 
mistake, but it brings down his whole system, no?

It's not clear to me that Marxists have much to learn from the great 
bourgeois economic theorists, though of course Marxists do need how 
to use and analyze econometric data (my skills are quite lacking). So 
I would not maintain that the method of bourgeois economics 
(econometrics, modelling on the basis of non linear equations) are 
useless to Marxists (it seems to me however that game theory in the 
social sciences, as opposed to the biology of a John Maynard Smith, 
is based on totally aribitrary and subjective values plugged in by 
the theorist, but I have no idea), and of course we benefit immensely 
from top flight journalism and descriptive accounts of the working of 

But in the way of theory I don't think bourgeois economists have had 
much to teach us Marxists since Richard Jones whose influence is all 
over that most crucial chapter in historical materialism in Capital, 
vol 3 as Marx attempts to differentiate labor rent, rent in kind, 
money rents, etc. Since WC Mitchell and Eric Roll more than fifty 
years ago, Jones's fundamental contribution to economic theorizing 
has been lost in the history of economic thought. Which means that 
since this then bourgeois economists have lost all real sense of the 
historic specificity of their object of study--the bourgeois epoch of 


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