Generally Discrediting David Harvey

November 2022 Forums General discussion Generally Discrediting David Harvey

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  • #86059
    twc
    Participant

    About David Harvey’s http://…MARX’S_REFUSAL.pdf.

    The First Six Chapters of Capital

    Chapters 1 to 3 of Capital contain Marx’s analysis of the commodity, which he settles upon as the unit of capitalist wealth.

    Marx’s analysis discloses a commodity’s value-form to be the cell (or DNA) of the capitalist economy.

    Chapters 4 to 6 of Capital contain the foundations of Marx’s scientific synthesis.  Here Marx explains money, capital and labour-power as forms of value.

    By Chapter 6 Marx has established his labour theory of value.

    The labour theory of value will henceforth play the scientific role of Marx’s fixed [abstract] constant that persists throughout the multitude of [concrete] dynamic processes of the capitalist mode of production.

    David Harvey’s Criticism

    David Harvey criticizes Chapters 1 to 6 of Capital as follows:

    • What is traditionally referred to as the labour theory of value, as set out in Chapters 1 to 6 of Capital, has been generally discredited.

    • Marx never declared his allegiance to the labour theory of value as a theory of market price.

    • Marx, early on, recognised that the labour theory of value was unable to provide a basis for understanding prices.

    • Marx tactically slipped from talking about values to talking about market prices “as if they were roughly the same thing”.

    Response

    The labour theory of value was “generally discredited” to the satisfaction of professional “marxian” economists, by followers of Cambridge University economist Piero Sraffa back in the 1970s.

    The “general discrediting” of the labour theory of value was naturally newsworthy to the radical New Statesman which splashed economist Ian Steedman’s catalogue, from a Sraffian standpoint, of everything that Marx got completely wrong about the capitalist market—and that turned out to be almost everything Marx wrote about it.

    Especially humiliating were the results of Sraffian mathematics that implied negative value, falling surplus-value with rising profits, and a litany of similarly crushing Marxian absurdities.

    David Harvey admits (in his on-line lectures on Capital Volume 2) that the mathematics of this celebrated Sraffian “general discrediting” are beyond his competence to judge.  His own opinion is therefore based on a trusted mathematical colleague’s [perfectly correct] assessment that the mathematics are internally consistent.

    These second-hand grounds justify, to David Harvey’s satisfaction, his promulgation of the Sraffian mathematical conclusions that prices aren’t determined by values and profits aren’t determined by surplus-values.

    It is therefore not surprising that David Harvey’s article (above) follows the same line of attack against the labour theory of value as Postone’s (discussed last week).  Both writers are responding to the same intellectual crisis.

    Also, both writers seek to save, or exonerate, Marx, which from their common opposition to the labour theory of value gives them little choice but to “improve” upon Marx.  Hence they cry in unison that Marx was really not concerned about the capitalist market.

    Now an apologist, to save his intellectual soul, must somehow justify his apologetics to the world.

    David Harvey’s self-justification betrays his leninist apprenticeship.  He comes out “suspecting” that Marx knew all along that his labour theory of value was “discredited”—but that Marx lied about it for tactical [=propaganda] reasons!

    Marx’s intellectual enemy Böhm-Bawerk, standing on what he perceived to be firm marginalist grounds, never accused Marx of scientific fraud, only of muddled thinking.  David Harvey, standing on what he perceives to be infirm marxian grounds, saves his own soul by maligning Marx as a liar!

    Without flicker of conscience, David Harvey is prepared to impugn Marx’s scientific integrity!  No-one has ever succeeded at this ploy, though many have tried.

    David Harvey might pause to think through the implications for the scientific enterprise of Das Kapital, grounded as it is on the dynamic unfolding of the forms of value as DNA of capitalism.  It would kill Marx’s scientific organism.

    Should Marx ever be convicted of scientific fraud, his seminal theory of exploitation, based upon a proven fraudulent concept of surplus-value, would totally scuttle socialism.

    Such is the typical legacy of leninist tactics.

    It is more than probable that David Harvey, who formed his Sraffian opinion unscientifically by succumbing to the received opinion of others, is simply scientifically confused.

    Thus, whatever merits a confused David Harvey finds in the subsequent Chapters 7 to 25 of Capital, these subsequent chapters must forever remain suspended in mid air, lacking (according to his second-hand opinion) the analytical foundation of the earlier chapters because he has pronounced those earlier chapters to be “generally discredited”.

    For ever afterwards, David Harvey’s subsequent “marxian” musings can only amount to nothing other than unscientific wishful thinking—musings that Frederick Engels correctly called “utopian”.

    Marx, on the other hand, developed those remarkable subsequent Chapters 7 to 25 of Capital systematically out of the earlier chapters, as the inexorable dynamics of the DNA of the entire capitalist system, i.e. out of David Harvey’s “generally discredited” value.

    David Harvey is free to interpret the capitalist world in his own way from the alternative standpoint of Diane Elson’s value theory of labour or his own idiosyncratic theory of “not-value” or “anti-value”.

    But, he should chew on this—that if Marx’s labour theory of value is a “generally discredited” scientific fraud, any alternative derivatives of value (like Elson’s, Ollman’s or his own) hasn’t a credible scientific leg to stand upon.

    After David Harvey throws out Marx’s labour theory of value of Chapters 1 to 6 of Capital, the marxian cupboard lies stripped bare.

    Without Marx’s labour theory of value the marxian enterprise dies.

    Nothing of value remains, including socialism.

    [For the discrediting-of-the-discrediting, see Reclaiming Capital by Andrew Kliman https://…Reclaiming-Marxs-Capital.]

    #132344
    robbo203
    Participant
    twc wrote:
     Without Marx’s labour theory of value the marxian enterprise dies.Nothing of value remains, including socialism.[For the discrediting-of-the-discrediting, see Reclaiming Capital by Andrew Kliman https://…Reclaiming-Marxs-Capital.%5D

     A good analysus TWC but I dont think the last inference holds.  There are some "Marxists", for  example, who hold that you can still talk about working class explitation without resorting to the labour theory vof value.  I am not quite sure how they imagine this is possible but presumably in their mind it is.  In principle, you dont need to be  a Marxist to want socialism though it certainly helps…

    #132345
    ALB
    Keymaster

    David Harvey's view have been discussed many times in this forum (just type his name into the search box). Some of his stuff his good, e.g his 2007 book The Limits to Capital and this from another of his books the Enigma of Capital:

    Quote:
    Capitalism will never fall on its own. It will have to be pushed. The accumulation of capital will never cease. It will have to be stopped. The capitalist class will never willingly surrender its power. It will have to be dispossessed.

    But while he explains the macoeconomics of capitalism well enough he falls down when it comes to its microeconomics. The Critisticuffs group have made a similar criticism of Harvey not understanding Marx's theory of value:https://critisticuffs.org/texts/david-harvey/How could he, when as they point, he ends up advocating a form of money that cannot be accumulated, what he calls "oxidisable" money? As they quote him:

    Quote:
    if you want to prevent class formation, if you want to prevent the individual appropriation of social value, then you would have to come up with a money form that is anti accumulation. Marx says that gold and silver are the money commodities because they are not oxidisable. […] They maintain their character. You can accumulate value, social power. And we see what happens in societies. But if you had a money form that dissolved, that is oxidisable, we would end up with a very different kind of society. You would have a money form that would aid circulation but that would not facilitate accumulation. (David Harvey on Platypus panel Radical Interpretations of the Present Crisis, 14 November 2012

    and

    Quote:
    So we’ve got to change the monetary system – either tax away any surpluses people are beginning to get or come up with a monetary system which dissolves and cannot be stored, like air miles (http://www.redpepper.org.uk/david-harvey-interview-the-importance-of-postcapitalist-imagination).
    #132343
    robbo203
    Participant

    I looked at the Harvey interview you linked to above, Adam .  To put the quote in fuller context this is what Harvey said "Or on the monetary question – we need money to circulate commodities, no question about it. But the problem with money is that it can be appropriated by private persons. It becomes a form of personal power and then a fetish desire. People mobilise their lives around searching for this money even when nobody knows that it is. So we’ve got to change the monetary system – either tax away any surpluses people are beginning to get or come up with a monetary system which dissolves and cannot be stored, like air miles.But in order to do that you’ve also got to overcome the private property-state dichotomy and come to a common property regime"I find it quite extraordinary that someone like Harvey can come up with such muddled nonsense as this .  Yes, you may need money to circulate commodities but do we need commodities and commodity production and how is this compatible with a "common property regime"? Taxing away surpluses will only induce capitalists to shift their capital to other parts of the world where taxes are lower – hence the recent Tax reform bill in the US to lower corporate taxes and entice more domestic investment.  As for coming up with a monetary system in which money "dissolves" (I thought you needed it "to circulate commodities")  and cannot be stored, this  is patently absurd.  Its like wanting capitalism without the accumulation of capital that lies at the heart of the systemHow on earth did this guy manage to pass as an authority on Marx and Marxism? 

    #132346
    Dave B
    Participant

    i   This is all a load of bollocks of course. The comedy of it all is that these people babble on about Karl’s use if the scientific method whilst it is painfully obvious that they do not have any idea whatsoever about what the scientific method is. Or even it would appear any kind of basic history of the subject. So I am going to do a direct anecdote of Karl’s approach and the scientific approach using Aristotle and his objects falling to the ground and Newtonian gravity on the history of science side. Just because it was in the Penny physics lesson youtube.  And on the  Marx side the stuff about price or exchange value not being equal to value or things not exchanging at their value in capitalism etc.    So lets lay out the vulgar Marxist position.   [ I have the problem here of putting many different words into many different types of vulgar mouths; but it would take too long to cover all their positions ‘precisely’]  As a general synopsis of this vulgar position of  the price of a commodity in the non abstract and real empirical world of capitalism that we live in. A capitalist produced commodity is sold at a price that will make an adequate or average, or whatever you like for the moment, rate of profit. So the price is determined or dependent upon a necessary rate of profit. With the result that the Law of value or that stuff exchanged according to their labour time value did or does not operate, or never did depending on which school of vulgar Marxism one comes from. Because exchange value was dependent on the required rate of profit and thus not the labour time value or whatever.     And for them; In some ‘hypothetical’, ‘idealised’ or ‘abstract’ or non real world or in a world or situation(s) that were never really dominant if they existed at all. Eg in simple commodity production were self employed or ‘private’ labourers exchanged their products amongst themselves. Then and only then did commodities exchange at their value; or the law of value operated.    And thus the problem was that Karl supposedly took some Law that he developed from some kind of unreal fantasy world, or the moon perhaps, that didn’t really exist [much] on earth.  


     So we are going to go back first to ancient Greece and Aristotle;  Sheldon: You’re welcome. Now, Introduction to Physics. What is physics? Physics comes from the ancient Greek word physika. It’s at this point that you’ll want to start taking notes. Physika means the science of natural things. And it is there, in ancient Greece, that our story begins.Penny: Ancient Greece?Sheldon: Hush. If you have questions, raise your hand. It’s a warm summer evening, circa 600 BC, you’ve finished your shopping at the local market, or agora, and you look up at the night sky. There you notice some of the stars seem to move, so you name them planetes, or wanderer. Yes, Penny?Penny: Um, does this have anything to do with Karl’s work?Sheldon: This is the beginning of a twenty six hundred year journey we’re going to take together from the ancient Greeks through Isaac Newton           ……….Aristotle proposed that the speed at which two identically shaped objects sink or fall is directly proportionalto their weights.…….   This quite simple really for simple people. If you take ping pong ball and a lead ball of the same size and drop them the lead ball hits the floor first. Could one imagine for instance any other situation? Like the ping pong ball and the lead ball, or for that matter a falcon feather and a hammer falling to the ground at the same ‘speed’? And if one could what would it matter? And if there were exceptional circumstances or were objects of different weights appeared to fall the ground at the same speed. What would that matter? What on earth would be the point of investigating these circumstances that were not general or ‘dominated’? And. How would you deal with;   ….Galileohad already demonstrated that objects of different weights reach the ground in similar times…….. Which contradicted Aristotle’s more obvious dominant law? The most obvious approach would be to attempt to explain the ‘Galileoeffect’ using Aristotle’s ‘dominant’  law. Even if the theory; ‘…that all bodies move toward their natural place’ was a little bit flaky. Or go off planet earth or into a world of hyothetical abstract absolute vacuums  [ or out of capitalism? And into simple commodity production?] Refine the ‘abstract’ ‘Galileoeffect’ Which is what Newton did really. And take the Newton / ‘Galileoeffect’ to explain the Aristotle phenomena? (The way things actually historically panned out admittedly isn’t so straightforward looking back.) Or in other words; you could either say that the Aristotle phenomena/law was ‘dominant? And was modified by something else improperly understood. Or something more outrageous, so outrageous that David Harvey couldn’t contemplate it. That the Newton / ‘Galileoeffect’ or gravity was in fact the important thing and still persistently operated on planet earth, as regards falcon feathers and hammers. And that you could explain Aristotelian falling falcon feathers and hammers on planet earth in terms of a gravitational affect that was being modified by another affect. In this case air resistance/ viscosity etc . So you use Newton / ‘Galileoeffect’ or gravity to explain air resistance and viscosity and thus take your Newtonian and ‘Galileoeffects’ into the world that ‘appears’  to contradict them in order the explain that contradictory world?????? Well we know what happened. It worked. It is a project or general approach that could of course fall flat on its face. And that kind of thing has done in the past. What Karl has done is take the simple commodity effect and it operating law of value and employed it or taken it into the contradictory world of capitalism in order to explain capitalism. And used the more fundamental law of value to explain or understand the counteracting force of the average rate of profit that interferes with it. Just as an atmosphere or lack of a vacuum interferes with the law of falling objects. Aeronautical do not abandon Newtonian forces of gravity, as an irrelevant abstraction like Harvey and Professor Hienrich would. In fact they understand things like Reynolds numbers and all that shit from and by taking with them the Newtonian laws. Whether or not the heavenly vacuous ‘abstract’ Newtonian laws are robust enough to withstand or explain the slings and arrows of an atmospheric world. [there is nothing much more abstract than going off planet except perhaps from going to a non capitalist mode of production?] Or  the simple commodity laws are robust enough to withstand or explain the  slings and arrows of an a capitalist for profit world. Is the question.

    #132347
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    David Harvey is just another Richard Wolf, the difference is that one does not know anything about political economy, and he is not an academic economists,  and the other one does, but both want to resolve the problem of capitalism within capitalism, or like a Trotskyist newspaper wrote: "He wants to trim Marx beard". Generally, in the USA there is widespread lack of knowledge about Marx, and communism,  and that is the reason why most of his works are widely accepted without any critique. This is what the Trotskyist socialist party wrote about him:https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/11/harv-n23.html. 

    #132348
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    robbo203 wrote:
    I looked at the Harvey interview you linked to above, Adam .  To put the quote in fuller context this is what Harvey said "Or on the monetary question – we need money to circulate commodities, no question about it. But the problem with money is that it can be appropriated by private persons. It becomes a form of personal power and then a fetish desire. People mobilise their lives around searching for this money even when nobody knows that it is. So we’ve got to change the monetary system – either tax away any surpluses people are beginning to get or come up with a monetary system which dissolves and cannot be stored, like air miles.But in order to do that you’ve also got to overcome the private property-state dichotomy and come to a common property regime"I find it quite extraordinary that someone like Harvey can come up with such muddled nonsense as this .  Yes, you may need money to circulate commodities but do we need commodities and commodity production and how is this compatible with a "common property regime"? Taxing away surpluses will only induce capitalists to shift their capital to other parts of the world where taxes are lower – hence the recent Tax reform bill in the US to lower corporate taxes and entice more domestic investment.  As for coming up with a monetary system in which money "dissolves" (I thought you needed it "to circulate commodities")  and cannot be stored, this  is patently absurd.  Its like wanting capitalism without the accumulation of capital that lies at the heart of the systemHow on earth did this guy manage to pass as an authority on Marx and Marxism? 

    The blind guiding the blinds, in the world of the blind one man with one eyes is a king. He is part of an uncritical society. In the USA a lawyer fighting against a rent increase for a tenant is called a communist. Harvey is not an economist, he is a Geographer

    #132349
    ALB
    Keymaster

    We noticed the same thing about his speech at Occupy St Pauls in London in 2011 as those Trotskyists. See:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/general-discussion/occupy-movement?page=9#comment-288

    #132350
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    #233729
    PeterFrank
    Participant

    Hi. Just thought I’d say that the money-form that cannot be a store of value is Silvio Gesell’s freigeld. It’s created by the municipality and has a shelf life beyond which the money becomes worthless. Spend it or lose it. The town of Wörgl, Austria used freigeld to reverse the devastation of the Great Depresson. It worked. Full stop. Other towns from Austria and neighboring countries wanted to create their own local currencies. By the end of the year, the central bank of Austria forced the government to shut down the freigeld experiment. The town instantly reverted to its former impoverished condition. The economist Bernard Lietaer based his work on Gesell’s freigeld.

    #233730

    This message was for another thread

    #233740
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I confess ignorance of Silvio Gesell’s freigeld and had to read up on it

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvio_Gesell

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freigeld

    #233741
    PeterFrank
    Participant

    Awesome. The other important political economist that needs to have some input into things is the 19th century American economist Henry George. Together, George and Gesell show us how the mechanics of wealth extraction occur in capitalism, apart from the conventional idea of exploitation of labor.

    #233742
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I have heard of Henry George, as had Marx and Engels.

    Then there is Major Douglas’s scheme

    #233745
    ALB
    Keymaster

    “Together, George and Gesell show us how the mechanics of wealth extraction occur in capitalism, apart from the conventional idea of exploitation of labor.”

    I don’t think either of them accepted the “conventional”, presumably Marxian (but also obvious), “idea of exploitation” that those who work for wages are exploited by those who own the places where they work since the only source of new wealth is work.

    Henry George was all for free-market capitalism and held that it had a single flaw — the private expropriation of the increased value of land caused by expanding towns and cities — and so proposed a single solution: his single tax on land values. With that reform he thought capitalism would operate to benefit workers.

    Silvio Gesell was essentially a currency reformer. He wasn’t proposing something stupid based on misunderstanding the economics of capitalism like Major Douglas and Social Credit. His basic idea was to issue money whose value declined over time as a means of encouraging people to spend during a slump as a way of trying to get out of it. Keynes gave him a favourable mention for this. It could be implemented without making things worse (as Social Credit would) but whether it would have the desired effect is another matter.

    Actually, it is in effect being implemented by governments everywhere as they have a policy of inflating the currency by about 2 percent a year — which results in the value of the money unit depreciating over time. Just like Gesell wanted. And what difference has that made to the problems workers face under capitalism?

    So neither George nor Gesell have anything useful to propose. Socialists have no reason to change their view that the way-out is to get rid of capitalism altogether and make the productive resources of society the common ownership of society so that they can be used to produce directly for use and not for profit and the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” can be implemented.

    End capitalism not try to mend it.

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