[lbo-talk] Johanna Bockman - The Long Road to 1989 Neoclassical Economics, Altern ative Socialisms, and the Advent of Neoliberalism

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Sun Dec 10 05:23:53 PST 2017

As long as we are on the subject of Marxist theories of value versus that of the marginalists, I would also take note of the young Sidney Hook's defense of Marx's labor theory of value (LTV).

The young Sidney Hook in his 1933 book, Towards the Understanding ofKarl Marx, presented an interesting defense of the labor theory of value which contrasts with the more orthodox defenses that had been offered by people like Hilferding and Bukharin.to the issue of the LTV versus marginalism. He argued that from the standpoint of pure logic one cannot prove or disprove any theory of value. He drew an analogy with theories of geometry. Just as physical space can be described in terms of multiple systems of geometry (Euclidean, Lobachevskyian, Riemmanian etc.), so the same is true for the description of economic phenomena in terms of multiple theories of value.

Experience cannot disprove any given geometric system, only make description in terms of a system, more or less complex. For the physicist, that geometric system, will be "true," to the extent that it in combination with other physical hypotheses, yields the simplest description of his experimental findings. However, to the extent that experimental control is not in question, the physicist can always save the appearances by introducing subsidiary assumptions and ad hoc hypotheses so that he can describe physical reality in terms of any geometric system that he chooses. Hook contended that the same was true for theories of economic value as well.

He argued that economic reality can be described in either marginalist terms or in terms of Marx's LTV. In either case, the economist must necessarily rely upon subsidiary hypotheses, such that it is not possible to refute either Marxian value theory or marginalism on the basis of empirical observations. And Hook argued that Marx in *Capital* anticipated all of the major objections to LTV. In any case, LTV can with sufficient tweaking of subsidiary hypotheses, always be saved from refutation. And in any case, neither LTV nor any other alternative theory possesses any predictive power.

But then Hook asks, if it is the case that we can always save LTV fromempirical refutation, why would we want to save it. And his answer wasbecause LTV is ultimately not a Sorelian myth or an ideology but is "theself-conscious theoretical expression of the practical activity of the working class engaged in a continuous struggle for a higher standard ofliving - a struggle which reaches its culmination in social revolution. . .To the extent that economic phenomena are removed from the influences of the class struggle, the analytical explanations in terms of the labor theory of value grow more and more difficult. The labor theory of value is worth saving if the struggle against capitalism is worth the fight."

Hook's 1933 defense of the labor theory of value contrasts with the more orthodox defenses that had been offered by people like Hilferding and Bukharin. Both Hilferding and Bukharin had written in response toBöhm-Bawerk's famous critique of Marx, Karl Marx and the Close of His System. https://www.marxists.org/subject/economy/authors/bohm/ <https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.marxists.org%2Fsubject%2Feconomy%2Fauthors%2Fbohm%2F&h=ATPl9O3hDFZma19Da9_kANH9u5d6_g-ZqfEYufzSe5aOi9ovlmoZjrffbhdz7qslfCfHtEj_3VUqr-aLOJ7qk1uiwbLiDoI0lMlT-V_fDN6QnyT3L--aShgDp55Whl3fn1Y5kXDr>

-- Jim Farmelant http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant http://www.foxymath.com Learn or Review Basic Math

On 12/4/2017 8:03 AM, Jim Farmelant wrote:
> Social scientists have explained the turn to neoliberal capitalism by looking not only to the economic classes seeking this new form of capitalism but also to the ideologies these groups use both to envision this new form and to convince others of its necessity and desirability. Given the economic nature of neoliberal ideology, economists have been given primary place as the creators and often as the propagators of neoliberal ideology. Some social scientists have argued that right- wing econo-mists such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek successfully mobilized right- wing think tanks, associations, and economics departments and converted policy makers to their free- market worldview. Others have argued that mainstream economists more generally have, intentionally or unintentionally, spread neoliberal policies through their professional neoclassical economics, which acts as a kind of neoliberal capitalist Trojan horse. Another set of works shows that economists with U.S. neoclassical training have gained powerful positions in international &#57344;nancial institutions, such as the World Bank and the IMF, which impose neoliberal ideas on countries around the globe and support the formation of neoliberal advocates world- wide.However, scholars have not adequately understood mainstream economists’ professional ideas. Mainstream economics has a much more tenuous connection not only to neoliberalism, but even to capitalism, than is generally thought.
> https://www.academia.edu/7103289/The_Long_Road_to_1989_Neoclassical_Economics_Alternative_Socialisms_and_the_Advent_of_Neoliberalism
> Jim Farmelant
> http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant
> http://www.foxymath.com
> Learn or Review Basic Math
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