Keen, the LTV and the LTP

Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au
Fri Nov 3 23:43:52 MST 1995


Given the degree of heat (and some rays of light) that my
"ruthless criticism of everything existing" -:) has given
rise to, I thought I had better put a few comments about
what objectives I think I have (of course, I could be
misinformed...). Then, unless Miller completely surprises
me and says something intelligent, I will refrain from
replying to anything he writes.

Firstly, after a reproval from Mauro, I somewhat apologised
for comparing Miller to Stalin. Then he posted what I repeat
below. I therefore withdraw the apology:

>   That's a bit of an exaggeration. I identified Steve as
>being "pro-capitalist" and "on the wrong side of the class
>line" because he conducted an informed and knowledgeable
>attack on the theoretical foundations of Marxism. It's
>not just that he had problems with the theory.
>   He's not naive. It's not a case of someone who may have
>misunderstood Marx on the basis of a hasty reading. So it's
>not a mistake, nor is it a mere reservation or partial
>disagreement. Steve is a highly educated and extremely
>well-informed economist. And he uses his erudition to
>refute Marx. It's the fact that he mobilizes his
>intellectual resources to attack Marx that puts him
>on the wrong side of the class line....
>   In my opinion, the fundamental purpose of Steve's work
>dovetails with that of the neo-Ricardians, analytical
>Marxists and others. They use their abundant knowledge of
>Marx's work to undermine Marxism. The objective function
>of their work is to add weight to capitalist apologetic
>economics by discrediting Marxism.
[By "he" above I mean Miller, not Mauro, of course]
That is as Stalinist a piece of thinking as ever I have seen--
when by Stalinist I mean criticising someone because they
dare to attack something you believe. I could equally, and
more accurately, call it dogmatic religous behaviour. In
any case, it is every bit a companion to the cite from
Stalin that I originally posted.

I suppose Miller would prefer critics of Marx to conduct
"uninformed and unknowledgeable" attacks on Marx? And Marx
is too God-like to be attacked? I would expect that, were
Karl to be reincarnated today, and find himself, 130 years
after Das Kapital, to still be in a capitalist nation, HE
would be the first to "attack" himself by asking "what
might I have got wrong in my theory".

This has been one of the most long-standing disappointments
of my life, when having fought against conservative economic
dogma as a student, I found that many of my so-called radical
colleagues were as dogmatic as the conservatives they opposed.
Miller is just the most recent--and far from the most
impressive--in a long line of such intellectual disappointments.

As an aside, when those same colleagues once ganged up on
me for not joining the Communist Party, my reason for not
so doing was "because if the revolution ever does come, one
of the first backs up against the wall will be mine". I
realised very early on that dogmatists are most annoyed,
not with those who are their sworn enemies, but with those
of their closest colleagues who don't completely agree
with them.

Thanks to Otto and to Peter Burns for good comments, and as
I've said already, I have a great deal of sympathy for Peter's
arguments about a Labor Theory of Property. This is also a
good point at which to answer the question that Inigo and
Miller's nonsense about my surmised objectives led Mauro to
raise:
|Miller then says >. Sweezy supports socialism; Steve assumes capitalism
|>is permanent
|I'm new in the list and didn't know Keen before. Is the above point right?
------------------------
No, it's not. I'd best answer that by answering Inigo.

[By the way Juan, I had an inkling from those posts you cited
that you had read my thesis, but I wasn't going to believe
so until you said so explicitly.]

You continue with:
|ages ago (as Steve enjoys saying) I have shown in this
|list, and will go on showing, how Steve's theory represents
|capitalism as the "best of all possible worlds" and, rather,
|as the eternal form of society...

This is bullshit, as usual. I did not develop my analysis
of capitalism in the thesis--it was, in that sense, an
essentially "negative" work intended to critique the
labor theory of value, and only very generally in the
conclusions stated anything about the positive implications
of such a theory for the analysis of capitalism.

If you want to see what I think of capitalism, then check out
my Journal of Post Keynesian Economics piece (1995, Vol. 17
No. 4), where you *may* see that I argue that unbridled
capitalism is unstable, and likely to lead to sustained
depressions.
[I say may because what you see and what I write are often
two completely different things...]

My political agenda, about which both Miller and Inigo
informedly speculate (NOT!), I am a supporter of the mixed
economy over both free market capitalism and centrally
planned socialism, and my analytic work I hope shows (and
will continue to show) that a market economy with a strong
social security system is more dynamic and more viable
than either "pure" capitalism--which is the political
agenda of neoclassical economics--or "pure" non-market
socialism--which seems to be the agenda of most labor-
theory-of-value-supporting marxists.

In terms of the future development of society, I do not
see capitalism as eternal, but believe that if those who
wish for a better society confine themselves to attempting
to bring about a socialist revolution, the type of society
we will find ourselves in will be something far worse than
capitalism.

To return to Peter Burns's piece, given the development of
technology, I believe that it is quite feasible that within
another century, it will be possible to produce commodities
with absolutely no direct labor input. If such a world comes
about when the incomes of non-owners of capital still depends
upon employment, then the vast majority of the world's
population will be condemned to starvation--or an existence
not far removed from it. The political repression such a
society will require will make Hitler look like St Thomas
Aquinas.

Getting to a different form of society--where income is not
dependent upon either work or ownership of capital--will,
_if_ it occurs, I believe be an evolutionary process, in
which the formation of a viable mixed economy today plays
a part.

Cheers,
Cheers,
Steve Keen


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