[OPE-L:7346] Re: Monopoly Capital and value theory

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Thu Jun 06 2002 - 08:55:27 EDT

Re  John Bellamy Foster's message which appeared as [7345]:

> But you contend that the actual practice of such
> theorists has involved adopting the redundancy argument, the Ricardian
> surplus concept and giving up on value-theoretic analysis--and that this
> has been carried forward in works on Marxist ecology, such as my book
> MARX'S ECOLOGY. <snip, JL>
>  As far as redundancy is concerned I understand how this relates to
> Sraffa-Steedman, but the application of this to Sweezy seems to me
> misplaced, particularly as he strongly opposed the neo-Ricardian model and
> the redundancy argument. Paul's argument was that neo-Ricardians
> invariably  lost sight of the central concept of Marx's economics, the
> rate of  surplus  value. In the debates on economic crisis theory in the
> 1970s,  '80s  and  '90s, in which I played a part, this was shown again
> and again. It  was  always understood within the MR tradition that the
> root of the problem was   the abandonment of the labor theory of value
> in the analysis of   capitalism,  and the confusion that this caused. With
> their claims  of redundancy the  neo-Ricardians ended up jettisoning a
> critical perspective.

Thanks for your clarification. But, I think you misunderstood my previous
questions in [7332].  I didn't claim there that Paul Sweezy and writers in
the MR tradition had "adopted"  the Steedman redundancy position. What I
wrote instead is that, especially with reference to _Monopoly Capital_, a
redundancy *question* can be raised.   Steedman did not raise his
redundancy *argument* in these terms: he claimed, rather, that surplus
approach theory was preferable to a value theory perspective because
there was nothing in the latter that couldn't be developed simpler and
better (i.e. free of supposed contradictions) than the latter.  My
*question*  re _Monopoly Capital_ is the following: since the argument
there was presented without value theory and categories, is value theory
essential or redundant from the perspective of the authors?  That *question*
could then be extended to others working in that tradition since -- in
broad terms -- they have identified with the basic approach towards
analyzing contemporary capitalism -- monopoly capital -- as Baran-Sweezy.
You write about "what was always understood in the MR tradition"
(which was very informative, btw) but that doesn't lead to a dismissal
of the underlying question since it is _Monopoly Capital_  itself which
is being interrogated rather than the intentions of the authors or others
writing in that tradition.  The mere _fact_ that _Monopoly Capital_
was written as it was leads necessarily to certain questions.

*Another* question could be raised for the critics of this tradition: if
one can develop an analysis of the contemporary period without explicit
utilization of value theory, then _why_  is value theory required for that
purpose?  Note that by raising the questions, I am not taking a stance
on whether or how I think they can be answered.

These questions could be directed not only towards the MR tradition, but
towards  some other Marxian traditions such as the Social Structure of
Accumulation school (hi Terry).    The SSA school develops a coherent
and logical and empirically informed perspective that does not employ
value theory.   If that is the case, then (again) is value theory redundant
and unnecessary (and, therefore inferior, according to Occum's Razor?)
_or_ in what senses is value theory required?  More concretely, what -- if
anything  -- is _lost_ in the SSA approach?

[NB: there is no reference to Marx above.  Since neither the MR tradition
or the SSA school or the surplus approach perspective claim "fidelity"
to Marx -- and since Marx's perspective can not be *assumed* to be
superior, then we should be able to answer the above questions without
digressions into  Marx hermeneutics since all that later could do possibly
is inform us what Marx's perspective was rather than what is at issue --
whether one theory is preferable or superior to others.]

In solidarity, Jerry

PS re Paul B's [7378-9]:  Thanks for your responses.  Contrary to your
expectations, I am indeed pleased that you were able to write those posts.
I would like us to at some point pursue the issues that you identified in
[7378] but I'm not sure how many others on the list are also interested
and, in any event, I will soon be at sea so I guess it is not best for me to
try to pursue some of those issues now.

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