Is Marx's Theory of Profit Right?: The Simultaneist-Temporalist Debate (Heterodox Studies in the Critique of Political Economy)

Is Marx's Theory of Profit Right?: The Simultaneist-Temporalist Debate (Heterodox Studies in the Critique of Political Economy)

Language: English

Pages: 194

ISBN: 0739196316

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This collection focuses on a long-running debate over the logical validity of Karl Marx’s theory that exploitation is the exclusive source of capitalists’ profits. The “Fundamental Marxian Theorem” was long thought to have shown that orthodox Marxian economics succeeds in replicating Marx’s conclusion. The debate begins with Andrew Kliman’s disproof of that claim.

On one side of the debate, representing orthodox Marxian economics, are contributions by Simon Mohun and Roberto Veneziani. Although they concede that their simultaneist models cannot replicate Marx’s theory of profit in all cases, they insist that this is as good as it gets. On the other side, representing the temporal single-system interpretation of Marx’s theory (TSSI), are contributions by Kliman and Alan Freeman. They argue that his theory is logically valid, since it can indeed be replicated when it is understood in accordance with the TSSI.

While the debate initially focused on logical concerns, issues of pluralism, truth, and scientificity increasingly assumed center stage. In his introduction to the volume, Nick Potts situates the debate in its historical context and argues forcefully that the arguments of the orthodox Marxist economists, and the manner in which those arguments were couched, were “suppressive and contrary to scientific norms.”

The volume concludes with a 2014 debate, in which many of the same issues re-surfaced, between the philosopher Robert Paul Wolff and proponents of the TSSI.

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implications. For the exploitation theory of profit to hold, temporality is indeed necessary.8 V. Conclusion Due to their static character, simultaneist interpretations of Marx’s value theory grant value no role in explaining the dynamics of capitalism. Although some proponents of simultaneist interpretations have acknowledged this, they seem untroubled by it. They contend that the “core of the explanatory power of the labor theory of value lies in the analysis of exploitation” rather than in

it is easy to overlook this very brief acknowledgment. The remainder of his paper diverts attention from the question of internal inconsistency by making the controversy seem to be about whether Marx’s value theory is true. But as Veneziani surely knows, the controversy is about whether Marx’s theory is internally inconsistent. As we will shortly demonstrate, we have made this distinction so clear that an author of Veneziani’s competence cannot fail to be aware of it. We thus have to conclude

•the total price of commodities equals the total value of those commodities •the aggregate profit rate based on profit equals the aggregate profit rate based on surplus-value However, Bortkiewicz (1952: 9) claimed that Marx’s solution produced an imaginary disequilibrium in the economy, and that this “proved that we would involve ourselves in internal contradictions by deducing prices from values in the way in which this is done by Marx.” The root of Marx’s supposed error was that the prices of

is produced, to pay the workers the apple-and-broccoli wages they need in order to return to work on Day 3, and so on. Let apples be the measure of value. The per-unit value of apples is therefore one. Since one labor-day is needed to produce a pound of apples, the per-unit apple-value of labor is therefore one as well. Thus the per-unit apple-value of the labor need to produce a pound of broccoli is also one, so the per-unit value of broccoli also equals one. Total surplus apple-value, the

94–103. ———. 1991a. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. III. London: Penguin. ———. 1991b. Karl Marx, Frederick Engels: Collected Works, Vol. 33. New York: International Publishers. Mohun, Simon. 2003. On the TSSI and the Exploitation Theory of Profit, Capital & Class 27:3, 85–102. Mohun, Simon, and Roberto Veneziani. 2007. The Incoherence of the TSSI: A Reply to Kliman and Freeman, Capital & Class 31:2, 139–45. ———. 2009. The Temporal Single-System Interpretation:

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