Marx out of 5?

5 - Orthodox Marxist
9% (7 votes)
4 - Marx has a strong influence on your philosophy
51% (40 votes)
3 - Marx did some good
31% (24 votes)
2 - Marx is irrelevant
3% (2 votes)
1 - It would be better if he’d never existed
6% (5 votes)
Total votes: 78

Posted By

Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 18:44

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redtwister
Oct 26 2005 17:45
afraser wrote:
It is possible to read Marx differently, to deny any connection between Marx’s ‘value’ and equilibrium price. Alan Freeman does that. It saves the day in avoiding any failures, such as the transformation problem, in relating socially necessary labor time and equilibrium price, but comes with the disadvantage of eliminating all useful meaning from Marx’s ‘value’, from his surplus ‘value’, from his economic writings generally. Quite a disadvantage.

Useless for you, but only because you accept the very notion of equilibrium price, which is, and this is my main point of interest in Freeman's piece, as well as many others on his side of the transformation debate (McGlone, Chattopadhyay, et al), othing but vulgar economic ideology. Since for Marx the revolution is the abolution of wage-labor and value as social forms, not as economic tools of measurement, our disagreement over the fundamental tasks of the revolution and the character of communism is at the root of the difference. Hence your back and forth with Lazy over markets and money, which I am thinking belongs in the section "Worst things ever done in the name of anarchism".

chris

ps - as always, it seems impossible for you to tell the difference between statements of revolutionary ardor and confidence versus any kind of fatalistic or deterministic belief in the guarantee of communism. You are a very good 'Marxist'.

petey
Oct 26 2005 18:50
revol68 wrote:
as soon as I hear armchair economists discuss the organisation of a post capitalist society i want to fucking shoot myself.

or at least roll my eyes.

redtwister
Oct 26 2005 18:58
newyawka wrote:
revol68 wrote:
as soon as I hear armchair economists discuss the organisation of a post capitalist society i want to fucking shoot myself.

or at least roll my eyes.

Or shoot the armchair economist while giggling madly.

afraser
Oct 26 2005 23:16
Redtwister wrote:
[A reading of Marx that denies any connection between Marx’s ‘value’ and equilibrium price is] useless for you, but only because you accept you accept the very notion of equilibrium price, which is ... nothing but vulgar economic ideology.

Well Freeman and others are right that long term equilibrium never arrives in a dynamic system, but wrong to imagine that that invalidates the usefulness of it as a concept altogether.

Marx used it - strictly, he used 'production price', but most people (including me) (but not all) regard 'production price' and 'equilibrium price' as synonymous:

Wiki wrote:

Some writers argue that Marx's production price is similar, or performs the same theoretical function, as the "natural prices" of classical political economy found e.g. in the writings of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. In that case, Marx's production price would be essentially a "centre of gravity" around which prices for outputs in a competitive market will fluctuate (cf. Fred Moseley's view). This is the dominant interpretation, which suggests that production prices are really a kind of "equilibrium prices".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prices_of_production

Freeman's discussion of moving pendulums is a good example - yes, they are never in stasis, but nevertheless they do gravitate to a mid point, and knowledge of that is required to predict their dynamic behavior. Rubin thought this useful:

Rubin wrote:
Production price corresponds to the equilibrium of the capitalist economy. This is a theoretically defined, average level of prices at which the transfer of capital from one branch to the other no longer takes place.

The production price should not be confused with the market-price, which constantly fluctuates above and below it, sometimes exceeding the production price, sometimes falling below it. The production price is a theoretically defined center of equilibrium, a regulator of the constant fluctuations of market prices. In conditions of a capitalist economy, the production price performs the same social function which the market-price determined by labor expenditures performs in simple commodity production. The first as well as the second are "equilibrium prices", ...

[Isaak Illich Rubin, Essays on Marx's Theory of Value, Chapter 18, Value and Production Price]

As did Marx throughout Capital

Redtwister wrote:
our disagreement over the fundamental tasks of the revolution and the character of communism is at the root of the difference.

Yes perhaps we're not really arguing about Marx, but about us and what we want. But I can propose and defend the fundamental tasks of my revolution on their own merits, without the need for a Marx like figure.

Redtwister inevitably wrote:
You are a very good 'Marxist'

Yes that single sentence of Marx's does seem a lot to pin the 'inevitability of communism' idea on. I'd have to agree with Redtwister that the orthodox Marxists got a little carried away with themselves there. Still, I thought I should show enough respect to my elders to point out to them where the Marxists did at least have some (however slight) justification in Marx for that doctrine.

Lazy Riser
Oct 27 2005 00:04

Hi

Quote:
i want to fucking shoot myself

Excellent.

Love

LR

redtwister
Oct 27 2005 20:01
afraser wrote:
Yes that single sentence of Marx's does seem a lot to pin the 'inevitability of communism' idea on. I'd have to agree with Redtwister that the orthodox Marxists got a little carried away with themselves there. Still, I thought I should show enough respect to my elders to point out to them where the Marxists did at least have some (however slight) justification in Marx for that doctrine.

This is an important point. There is indeed a justificationfor such things in Marx from time to time. That seems to me to be for 2 reasons:

1) Marx was sometimes wrong, though I think he did an admirable job in being open to allowing events to change his analysis. Not only was Marx sometimes wrong, some of what he wrote was applicable only to his time and are not really relevant to us anymore, as with any writer.

2) Marx's 'method', a word I use unwillingly but for brevity here, was not designed to work in the usual positivist meaning of the word 'science' and if someone goes about reading Marx through positivist lenses, all kinds of poop comes out instead of what Marx was doing.

That said, I find that I agree with the Internationalist communist Group that Marx's work forms an important part of the programme of communism, but programme here means the historical programme of communism, not the program of this or that sect, just as when Marx used the term party he used it in the historical sense, not of this or that party, but of the vanguard of the class organized through actual struggles seeking the abolition of capital and class society. However, the 2nd International, following Lasalle more than Marx, took 'party' to mean this or that group and program to men their platform.

In Marx's sense, I think that people like Bakunin were important contributors to the programme and to the party, unlike Lasalle and unlike the 2nd International (although elements came out of the 2nd International who would contribute to the historical development of that programme, like the Left Communists.)

chris

ronan
Nov 3 2005 12:15

a friend of mine gave me this article last week, by a french ex-situ guy. it's quite short and well worth a read, in my opinion. it's called 'the economy is only ideology in marx's sense'

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/leuven/arapport.htm

he really hates guy debord..maybe debord kicked him out of the SI...

redtwister
Nov 4 2005 14:45
ronan wrote:
a friend of mine gave me this article last week, by a french ex-situ guy. it's quite short and well worth a read, in my opinion. it's called 'the economy is only ideology in marx's sense'

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/leuven/arapport.htm

he really hates guy debord..maybe debord kicked him out of the SI...

Judging by this, Debord shoul have kicked him out. Any potser who starts talking about communication being the central element of social life and 'pure thoughts' and other such crap needs a kick in the ass. What pseudo-philosophical slop.

chris

redtwister
Nov 4 2005 14:53
revol68 wrote:
oh come on now lets be quite honest marxs theory of the party was pish poor, it was largely unthought out, mechanical and deeply reductionist. Ironically though there is plenty implicit withn Marxs writings for a critique of such a poor political position. like us all Marx was well capable of contradiction. Of course the fact Marx was writing in a time when it was close to impossible to imagine communism as much more than a form of economic planning in the interests of everyone, the alternative vision was small scale production, a reworking of the artisan burghes and small scale communes which sought to turn back time. Bakunin should be praised for forseeing Marxs shortcomings and for all his faults articulating a form of communism that transcended the crude mechanics of the early social democrats and the niavity of the utopians.

Honestly, I like Marx's notion of the party. But I admit, I am curious what you think it is. Clearly, as you can describe it as mechanical and deeply reuctionist, I assume you could explain what it is in the first place.

chris

afraser
Nov 7 2005 23:41

1. Marxists of all countries unite – you have nothing to loose but the chalices you bear: John Roemer’s Analytical Marxism

John Roemer wrote:
The labor theory of value has played two roles in Marxian economics. First it has been claimed to be, at some level of abstraction, a theory of prices. Second, the concept of embodied labor time has been used to define exploitation. In its first role, the labor theory of value is useless. It is a mystical Hegelian enterprise which claims that regardless of the actual deviations of equilibrium market prices from embodied labor values, nevertheless the latter represent the true phenomenon while the former are the epiphenomenon. I think the tenacity of this dogma is the single greatest chalice which Marxian economics bears. In the following pages, theorems are proved which show the labor theory of value is false. In fact, prices determine labor values (see Section 7.2), not the other way around. Having discarded labor values as a theory of price, however, they can still be used to define the concept of exploitation. This is, at first pass, more fruitful.

[Value, Exploitation and Class, p. 2]

Roemer goes on to successfully present Marxist-like exploitation without reference to Marx’s value theory.

John Roemer wrote:
Nevertheless, the final insights, the theory of exploitation and class, remain valuable but are not built on the classical Marxian foundation.

One could ask: What remains, in this reconstruction, which merits the label ‘Marxian?’ The labor theory of value, and the falling rate of profit theory are claimed to be false; the transformation problem is an irrelevancy. … But even if one estimates that not very much is left of Marxian microeconomics, or that what is left is not particularly Marxian, that is not damaging, to this enterprise [AF - an analytical theory of exploitation and class] at least.

[Value, Exploitation and Class, p. 3]

2. Kropotkin's Marxism: "naive, unscientific, nonsense"

Kropotkin in his 1903 "Science and Anarchism" savages Marx and the Marxists (although he does not refer to them by name, it is clear who he means). He finds their naivety wonderful; their work unscientific; their talk only nonsense:

Pyotr Kropotkin wrote:
Likewise, when certain economists [meaning Marx - AF] tell us that "in a perfectly free market the price of commodities is measured by the amount of labor socially necessary for their production," we do not take this assertion on faith because it is made by certain authorities or because it may seem to us "tremendously socialistic." It may be so, we say. But do you not notice that by this very statement you maintain that value and the necessary labor are proportional to each other--just as the speed of a falling body is proportional to the number of seconds it has been falling? Thus you maintain a quantitative relation between these two magnitudes; whereas a quantitative relation can be proved only by quantitative measurements. To confine yourself to the remark that the exchange-value of commodities "generally" increases when a greater expenditure of labor is required, and then to assert that therefore the two quantities are proportional to each other, is to make as great a mistake as the man who would assert that the quantity of rainfall is measured by the fall of the barometer below its average height. He who first observed that, generally speaking, when the barometer is falling a greater amount of rain falls than when it is rising; or, that there is a certain relation between the speed of a falling stone and the height from which it fell--that man surely made a scientific discovery. But the person who would come after him and assert that the amount of rain fall is measured by the fall of the barometer below its average height, or that the space through which a falling body has passed is proportional to the time of fall and is measured by it,--that person would not only talk nonsense, but would prove by his very words that the method of scientific research is absolutely strange to him; that his work is unscientific, full as it may be of scientific expressions. ... The necessary amount of labor and value are by no means proportional.

The same remark refers to almost every economic doctrine that is current to-day in certain circles [that is, Marxist circles - AF] and is being presented with wonderful naivety as an invariable law. We not only find most of these so-called laws grossly erroneous, but maintain also that those who believe in them will themselves become convinced of their error as soon as they come to see the necessity of verifying their quantitative deductions by quantitative investigation.[http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/science/scienceIX.html]

3. Marx's use as a (false) weapon in the hands of the workers: The Anarchist FAQs view

(I appreciate the Anarchist FAQ is the work of more than one author and is attempting to include all anarchist views)

Anarchist FAQ wrote:
In other words, the labour theory of value is simply a good heuristic analysis device which gives an insight into how prices are formed rather than the prices as such. In practice, production prices are dependent on wages and these reflect labour-time values rather than are labour-time values.

Thus Kropotkin was right -- up to a point. His critique of the LTV is correct for those versions of it which state that "equilibrium" price equals the (exchange) value of a good. He was correct to note that under capitalism this rarely happens. Which means that our use of the LTV is simply that of an explanatory tool, a means of looking at the key aspect of capitalism -- namely the production process which creates things which have use value for others and are then exchanged.[http://www.libcom.org/thought/faq/secC1.html#secc12]

But either Marx's value theory - the Labor Theory of Value - is wrong, or it is not. If it is wrong - and the Anarchist FAQ appears on balance to accept that it is wrong - then it cannot be a good heuristic device, nor can it be a useful explanatory tool. Yet still the Anarchist FAQ (anarchist intellectuals in general) persist in making use of Marx's ideas, especially those founded on his (wrong) value theory. Why?

The phrase "explanatory tool" is illuminating here. Explanatory for whom? Not for the authors of the Anarchist FAQ (for anarchist intellectuals in general) - because they (we) are, following Kropotkin, aware that the LTV is wrong. Nor have we need of 'tools' around our explanations - we are big enough to face the naked truth of capitalist economies. The implication is that there is some unenlightened mass of peasant scum out there who will make a fit subject for the (wrong) LTV for those explanations that we deign to hand down to them.

You can have:

1) an inner circle of the party elite (a vanguard of the vanguard) who are initiated into the dirty secret (that Marx is wrong); plus

2) an outer circle of the party rank and file, who are goaded on to ever greater sacrifice with tall tales from Marx (that production price is determined by socially necessary labor time; that socialism and communism are inevitable; that workers will suffer growing immiserisation; that the wage rate is determined by the socially necessary labor time required to reproduce the labor power; that capitalist economies will suffer ever greater crises; and so on) which they are gullible enough to accept.

That would be the socialist version of the 'noble lie' of Plato's Republic, where the end (socialist revolution) justifies the means (propagation of falsehoods).

To an anarchist, that is an abhorrent means of operating, incompatible with the goal of a free society (because for that people must be able to think for themselves, which requires openness of knowledge, ...).

And also it falls foul of the 'who guards the guards' problem: for who tells noble lies (who lies nobly) to the noble liars?

Lazy Riser
Mar 19 2006 12:35

Hi

ticking_fool wrote:
It's crazy to reject all Marx's work out of hand

Indeed, we give him 3.5 out of 5. Most of us are mildly Marxist

ticking_fool wrote:
Unless you've got a coherent economic analysis to put in it's place, we need this stuff if we're not going float off into various forms of individualism and stuntism.

Individualism and stuntism already provide a more coherent economic analysis than that proffered by the current crop of libertarian “communists”.

Love

LR

lem
Mar 19 2006 16:39
redtwister wrote:
if someone goes about reading Marx through positivist lenses, all kinds of poop comes out instead of what Marx was doing.

What kind of poop if you don't mind me asking?