General thoughts
Source Carrol Cox
Date 01/11/28/02:47

Doug Henwood wrote:
> Why is it that several hundred progressive
> economists and quasi-economists have so little to say
> about The Economy? It's a serious problem, no?

What would it mean to say something about "The Economy"? Something
"more," that is, than one gets in LBO and in Jim Devine's occasional
long summarizing posts? No two economists, reactionary or progressive,
seem to agree about what is going to happen the next few months -- and
it is unclear to me what political difference it would make if we did
know. Granted, some radicals wish to predict terrible things are going
to happen, but it seems to me that desire comes from not really
believing Marx's fundamental analysis of capitalism: that is, somehow
they seem to think that a thriving economy for a few hundred million (or
even a billion) future-haunted individuals constitutes a defense of
capitalism or a proof that history has ended.

We need a fundamental understanding of capitalism as an historical
epoch, a dynamic, and we need a limited and superficial understanding of
what's happening now -- but beyond that the important questoins seem to
be political rather than economic. Probably we grasp that fundamental
understanding more fully if we participate in or follow debates over
marginally different understandings -- i.e., I'm not sure if it is
important to know whether or not the distinction between productive
labor and unproductive labor gives us a better description of the actual
economy or not -- but I'm pretty sure that the _debate_ about its
importance or unimportance is important. . . . . . . .


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