[OPE-L:2189] Fw: Re: Re: Re: value-form theories

From: clyder (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 11:35:32 EST

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----- Original Message -----
From: clyder <wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk>
To: Michael J Williams <mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk>
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L:2141] Re: Re: Re: value-form theories

> >To the extent that I
> > understand Paul C's recent contribution, I am ready to be convinced that
> > Steedman's logic is not 'applicable'. Given my 'anti-naturalism' (see
> below)
> > I have yet to be convinced that thermodynamics has much to add to our
> > understanding of human social systems.
> We all have our biases. I started out as an economist and then re-trained
> as an engineer, which certainly biases me in a particular direction. It
> influences the language that I use to describe things. The arguments
> might be more persuasive to you if I did not use engineers terminology.
> What is at issue when I was talking about thermodynamic considerations
> is the fact that capitalist economies are complex systems with a lot of
> chaotic behaviour. The analysis of Steedman treats them as basically
> simple highly ordered systems.
> The substance of Farjoun and Machover's critique is that when you move
> from the simple and ordered to the complex and disordered, certain
> mathematical shortcuts cease to be valid. In particular one can no
> longer validly replace each instance of a collection by the mean of
> the collection - which is what Steedman does when he performs two
> replacements:
> 1. he replaces the production functions of all firms within an industry
> with the mean production function for that industry,
> 2. he replaces all profit rates for all firms with the mean profit rate
> for the economy as a whole.
> These are simply not valid operations when reasoning about disordered
> collections.
> The reason why concepts derived from thermodynamics are useful is
> that the kinetic theory of gases was the first area in which people had
> to come up with the mathematical tools to reason about chaotic
> The concept of entropy arose in this context, but it can be given a purely
> formal mathematical basis, and used to reason about any disorderd
> of entities whose values can be modeled by probability distributions.
> >'Natural' systems entail neither
> > intentionality at the micro level nor teleology at the systemic level.
> IMO,
> > social systems do.
> In this context however the crucial question is whether intentionality or
> teleology can be plausibly called in to impose order on the structure of
> profit rates and prices in a complex economy.
> I believe that they can but only under circumstances that would make the
> economy cease to be capitalist in the normal sense. Intentionality and
> teleology
> in the form of a state plan for prices and profit rates could create an
> economy
> whose structure could be modeled by the sort of input/output tables with
> uniform
> profit rates that Steedman assumes, but this would not be the sort of
> economy
> that Marx was trying to describe.
> One of the interesting observations we made of the US economy was that
> whilst most sectors with high organic compositions had a below average
> profit rate, those whose profit rate fell almost spot on the average were
> the publicly regulated utilities. In these cases it is valid to assume
> intentionality
> as the explanation.

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