[OPE-L:7339] Re: value and surplus in Baran-Sweezy and the

From: ECUSERS (ECBURKE@scifac.indstate.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 05 2002 - 19:48:08 EDT


This is a question that I am not prepared to debate with you in 
detail.  In my interpretation of the Sweezy/Baran/Foster view, Marx's 
value approach is an essential part of the investigative method by 
which they arrived at their results, and is also essential to the way 
they treat the financial sector as an absorver but not producer of 
surplus value.  This is not to say that the integrative questions you 
raise are not important.  I think they have more to do with the 
method of presenation than the method of analysis itself.  But there 
is also the question of the consistency of their appropriation of 
basically standard neoclassical analysis of monopolistic market 
structures and Marx's more value-formed conception of prices of 
production and market values.  I realize this is not a very pleasing 
response to you, of course.

In the case of Foster's book, MARX'S ECOLOGY, the value issues are 
integrated into his discussion and in his preface Foster he clearly 
sets out the connection between my more value-theoretic discussion 
and his historical-intellectual narrative.  There is no sense in 
which Foster's book has any tension with value analysis.

Cheers, Paul B. 

Jerry says:
> 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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