[OPE-L:7332] value and surplus in Baran-Sweezy and the MR tradition

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Jun 05 2002 - 08:50:03 EDT

Re Paul B's [7329]:

> On value analysis, neither Foster nor Sweezy views value theory as
> redundant in the sense of Steedman.  (See, for example, Sweezy's
> essay in THE VALUE CONTROVERSY (1981).)

Well,  is value theory an essential part of the Baran-Sweezy understanding
of the economic surplus and monopoly capitalism?  If that perspective can
be presented by its proponents sans value theory then I think a redundancy
claim could be asserted.  The same question could then be extended to
Harry Magdoff, J.B. Foster and other writers following in the tradition
associated with  _Monthly Review_  who assert the importance of historical
materialism  yet don't integrate value theory into their analysis of
capitalism,  especially contemporary capitalism.  Thus, after the transition
from  "free  competition"  to a period of "monopoly capitalism",   is value
theory required  to explain contemporary developments from a Baran-Sweezy
erspective?  Even though -- as you recognize --  Sweezy believed that value
theory was essential for Marx's  analysis of capitalism and critique of
political economy what we have to do  here is separate out Sweezy's
hermeneutic claims about Marx's theory from  Sweezy's own understanding
of capitalism.  Sweezy was later to write that Baran and his "procedure" in
_Monopoly Capital_ was to "take the labor theory of value for granted and
go from there" and he  recognized that  "this was an error".  He also
claimed that "at no time did Baran  and I explicitly  or implicitly reject
the theories of  value and surplus value but sought  only to analyze the
modifications that  became necessary as the result of the  concentration
and centralization of capital" (from the preface to the 2nd printing of the
Greek translation of _Monopoly Capital_ which first appeared in the
January l974 issue of _Monthly Review_, quoted from  "Monopoly
Capital and the Theory of Value" in  John Bellamy Foster ed. and
Henryk  Szlajfer ed. _The  Faltering Economy: the Problem of Accumulation
Under Monopoly Capitalism_, NY, Monthly Review Press, l984, pp. 25-26).
Apologies notwithstanding,  Baran-Sweezy -- as in Steedman and surplus
approach  theory -- put forward  the concept of surplus as an alternative to
the concept of surplus value (see note on page l0 of _Monopoly Capital_:
"we prefer the concept 'surplus' to the  traditional Marxian 'surplus value'
...."). So, I think that indeed a redundancy question should be raised re
Baran-Sweezy and MR theories.

In solidarity, Jerry

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