[OPE-L:1255] how many departments?

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Thu Sep 16 1999 - 19:50:58 EDT

Jurriaan wrote in [OPE-L:1252]:

> I wonder
> however if a two-sector model of the economy (Dept 1 + 2) is still an
> appropriate convention. I am thinking we need to incorporate these days
> some more sectors, such as arms production, luxury production, and gold
> production. But that is a separate issue really.

OK, I'll bite.

To begin with, luxury goods can be treated as a sub-set of Department II.
I.e. one can, if one so wishes, divide Dept II into means of consumption
for the working class and means of consumption for the capitalist class.

Arms production can't simply be added-on as another department in a
satisfactory way (contra Kidron) because this topic requires an analysis
of the state-form, including all state sources of revenue and
expenditure, for its further development. I.e. one shouldn't and can't
look at the topic of armaments in practice (even though some armaments
are sold as commodities on the market) unless one first puts this subject
into the context of the economic operation of the capitalist state.

As for a gold department, I am puzzled why you think "these days" it is
important to incorporate such a sector. Don't you believe that this is
less significant now (i.e. following Breton Woods) than in Marx's time?

Nonetheless, there are many arguments that could be made against the
reliance on 2-sector models -- although, obviously, not as many as one
could cite against the use of 1-sector models (with the familiar
"knife-edge" problem). When one goes beyond 2-sectors, it does complicate
the math quite a bit. This seems to be the main reason for resistance for
doing so. However, if there are enough compelling reasons to go beyond 2
sectors when considering a particular topic, it seems to me that the
requirements for good theory must over-ride the mathematical hassles
associated with the more complex models.

In solidarity, Jerry

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