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Robert Vienneau

Articles by Robert Vienneau

Profiles Of Socialists From Jacobin

3 days ago

Jacobin is a recent, popular socialist magazine in the United States. I think the editor
is Bhaskar Sunkara.
Doubtless, some of you will have objections to some of the politics of some of their writers
or interpretations of various things.

One nice aspect of their magazine is that they provide profiles and write ups of lesser
known historical figures and events in the past. Some of these are academics writing on
their speciality. Some are book reviews.
I have gathered together some links:

Salvator Allende and Chile.
Perry Anderson.
Otto Bauer and Austro-Marxists.
Walter Benjamin.
Theodor Bergman (I do not know him).
Amadeo Bordiga.
Nikolai Bukharin.
Chicago seven.
Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture).
James Connolly (I don’t know him).
Eugene Debs (link 2, link

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The Reswitching Of The Orders Of Fertility And Rentability Revisited

10 days ago

Figure 1: A Part of a Parameter Space
This post revisits my numerical examples in which I demonstrate the possibility of the
reswitching of the order of fertility and of the
reswitching of the order of rentability.
Each of those posts presents a numeric example. In each, different ranges of the coefficients of production a0,2
and a1,2 are considered. This post combines those ranges, while still not considering the full parameter space, even for the
slice for these coefficients.

In the example, reproduction of a capitalist economy requires the production of two commodities, iron and corn. Managers of firms know one process
for producing iron and three processes for corn. Each corn-producing processes operates on a different quality of land. The given endowments
of land and the

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Georgists Should Study Post-Sraffian Economics

16 days ago

1.0 Introduction

Here are some attempts to step back, but not very far, from some of the details in my numeric examples.

2.0 Henry George and Piero Sraffa

Henry George’s book Progress and Poverty misrepresents classical political economy.
I cannot justify this claim, since I read George’s book more than a decade ago. But
George and his followers are absolutely correct on a couple of points.

Marginalism developed by extending the theory of intensive rent, as in David Ricardo’s Principles
for example, to capital. This mistake results in the conflation of capital and land.
And the acceptance of this mistaken approach was politically motivated to
cover over the conflict between classes evident in classical political economy.
It was an attempt to ignore the social question.


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An Example Of Non-Uniqueness In A Model Of Extensive And Intensive Rent

21 days ago

Figure 1: Wage and Rent Curves for a Numeric Example1.0 Introduction

This post continues, with some repitition, my
exposition of a
model of
extensive and intensive rent.

In the example, the cost-minimizing technique is non-unique at a low enough wage or rate of profits.
One cost-minimizing technique, Epsilon, illustrates a case of extensive rent.
The other cost-minimizing technique, Iota, illustrates a case with both extensive and intensive rent.
In this technique, a kind of absolute rent arises on a land that is only partially farmed, and, thus,
in excess demand. The rule of free goods does not seem to apply.
(I am not sure how well thought out this idea is.)
I also note the existence
of what I am calling a ‘semi-fake’ switch point.

The conflicts among workers, landlords, and

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Direct And Indirect Methods, Axioms And Algorithms For The Choice Of The Technique

23 days ago

1.0 Introduction

Kurz and Salvadori (1995) explain prices of production with two methods of analysis: the direct method and the indirect
method. The indirect method, for the circular capital case, involves the creation of the wage frontier, the
most well-known diagram to come out of Sraffa (1960). The direct method characterizes a system of prices of
production by axioms, while the indirect method suggests algorithms for finding cost-minimizing techniques.

2.0 The Direct Method

In both methods, the given technology is characterized as a set of processes.
A process is specified as the quantities of inputs and the quantities of outputs for a given level of operation. In
the case of reproducible natural resources, that is, land, the quantity available of
each quality of land should be

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Antonio Labriola On The Philosophy Of Praxis

25 days ago

I think of Gramsci or Lukacs as the authors to read for understanding why Marxism might be called a "philosophy of praxis".
Apparently, that phrase was first used by Antonio Labriola. His collection of letters to Georges Sorel was
published as Socialism and Philosophy.
In the following letter, "praxis" is translated as "practice" in the last two paragraphs.

Rome, May 14, 1897

To return to my first argument, it seems to me that the following question is uppermost in your mind: By what means, and in what manner,
would it be possible to inaugurate a school of historical materialism in France? I don’t know whether I am at liberty to answer this
question, without running the risk of being numbered among those journalists of the old school who, with imperturbable assurance,

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Prices Of Production For A Model Of Extensive And Intensive Rent

28 days ago

This post continues the treatment of this model.

A number of conditions must be satisfied by quantity flows and prices to allow the economy to undergo
smooth reproduction. The net output of each produced commodity meets the requirements for use:

(B – A) q = d

The amount of each quality of land that is farmed cannot exceed the available quantity:

C q ≤ t

A vector is greater than or equal to another if each element of the vector is greater or equal to the
corresponding element of the other vector. The level of operation of each process is non-negative:

qi, i = 1, 2, …, n + m – 1

The costs of each process cannot fall below the revenues for that process:

p A (1 + r) + ρ C + w a0 ≥ p B

In other words, no process returns supernormal profits. The required net

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Some Books About History Of Socialism And So On

February 21, 2023

[embedded content]Ryan Chapman On (The History Of) Socialism
I found the above video fairly reasonable. Chapman tends to depict history as a debate about ideas, with little
about material developments. In other videos, he seems unreliable on the new left, post modernism, and identity
politics. My Marx includes a mathematical economist.

This post provides some lists.
As usual, I expect my lists are quite idiosyncratic. Some items, with more investigation, I might dislike.

Gary Dorrien, American Democratic Socialism: History, Politics, Religion, and Theory (2021).
Albert Fried and Ronald Sanders, Socialist Thought: A Documentary History, 2nd edition. (1992).
Doug Greene, A Failure of Vision: Michael Harrington and the Limits of Democratic Socialism (2022).
Stuart Jeffries,

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A Fluke Case For Extensive Rent

February 18, 2023

Figure 1: Wage Curves and Rent for an Example of Extensive Rent
I more-or-less have a draft research article in five posts:
post 1
post 2
post 3
post 4
post 5.
I suggest that the current post can replace the fourth post. It is a variant on
on this post.

The analysis of the choice of technique in models of extensive rent can be based on the construction of wage curves, even though the outer
envelope does not represent the cost-minimizing technique. The orders of fertility and rentability are emphasized here. The order of fertility is
defined for specified techniques, in which specified qualities of land are farmed, with one quality only partially farmed. Being in excess supply,
the partially farmed land pays no rent. At a given rate of profits, the qualities of land are ordered by wages,

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Noam Chomsky Praising America

February 17, 2023

[embedded content]Noam Chomsky Having A Discussion With An Idiot
This is more about current events than usual with me.

Patrick Bet David talks to quite a range of people. But he is incapable of listening, partly
because he ‘thinks’ there are two sides, Democrats and Republicans, in the United States today.
I stumbled on the above after listening to a discussion
with David Pakman, in which
Pakman responds at one point with something like, "Some of those words mirror some of what I said."
When Pakman explains that some of those who support Trump were previously non-voters, disengaged and disaffected,
who do not care about policy,
Bet David responds by asking if some of those who voted for Obama voted for him solely because he is black.
Since Pakman is on the other side, he must have been

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Technology For A Model Of Extensive And Intensive Rent

February 14, 2023

Table 3: Model Parameters and Variables
Parameter or VariableDescriptionnThe number of produced commodities, with n > 1.kThe number of types of land, with k > 1.mThe number of processes available for producing corn on land, with m > k.a0A row vector of labor coefficients containing n + m – 1 elements. The element a0, j; j = 1, 2, …, n + m – 1; is the person-years of labor needed to run the th process at a unit level.AA n x (n + m – 1) matrix. The element ai,j; i = 1, 2, …, n; j = 1, 2, …, n + m – 1; is the quantity of the ith commodity produced by the jth process when run at a unit level.BA n x (n + m – 1) sparse matrix. The element bi,j; i = 1, 2, …, n; j = 1, 2, …, n + m – 1; is the quantity of the ith produced commodity needed to run the jth process at a unit level.CA k x (n

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Victoria Chick (1936 – 2023), James Crotty (1940 – 2023), Makoto Itoh (1936 – 2023)

February 11, 2023

I cannot write as much about these economists as they deserve.

INET obituary for Victoria Chick. Her book, Macroeconomics after Keynes has a pun as its title. She is writing about macroeconomics that temporally follows Keynes and macroeconomics that builds on Keynes. The two do not need to be the same. Her book is good on the different time scales in the General Theory. Taking the short run to be when fixed capital (‘plant’) is given is different than defining the long run by given expectations about returns from investment.
James Crotty’s page at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). An obituary. I have not got very far yet into his boock, Keynes Against Capitalism: His Economic Case for Liberal Socialism.
John Bellamy Foster’s review, in the Monthly Review, of Makoto

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Howard Zinn On 1619

February 9, 2023

[embedded content]Neighbors of Zinn Make A Movie
This was a year before my mother’s mother’s mother’s ancesters came to this continent.
It is on my mother’s mother’s father’s side I am descended from a murderer’s brother.
My father’s ancesters were probably on this continent in 1919, but in Canada.

"A black American writer, J. Saunders Redding, describes the arrival of a ship
in North America in the year 1619:

Sails furled, flag drooping at her rounded stern, she rode the tide in from the sea. She was a strange ship, indeed, by
all accounts, a frightening ship, a ship of mystery. Whether she was trader, privateer, or man-of-war no one knows.
Through her bulwarks black-mouthed cannon yawned. The flag she flew was Dutch; her crew a motley. Her port of
call, an English

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Extensive And Intensive Rent

February 6, 2023

This post begins the presentation of an example in
which extensive and intensive rent can both arise.
I do not consider external intensive rent or joint production in general.
Kurz and Salvadori (1995), in section 2.2 of Chapter 10, have a more general model that
includes external extensive rent and joint production. It does not allow for more than
one agricultural commodity, although they treat that in problems, with examples from the

Perhaps developing this example will help me find a insightful way of presenting some of the
fluke cases I have found in the theory of rent.

Table 1 presents coefficients of production for the simplest example I can think of in which more than one commodity is
produced, intensive and extensive rent are possible, and general joint production

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An Outline Of The History Of Socialist And Communist Parties In The United States

February 4, 2023

A Timeline For The United States
This post provides an outline of the development of socialist and communist parties in the United States. The focus is on national
political parties, not labor unions, not intentional communities, and not activist groups.

The Socialist Labor Party (SLP), the Socialist Party (SP), the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), and the
Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) are the most long-lived parties considered here. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is currently
of some prominence, along with the Green Party (which I am not considering a socialist party). Many of these parties had associated
newspapers and youth groups, with factional disputes among them. For example, one does not see in this timeline the division between
the League for

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Luigi L. Pasinetti (1930 – 2023)

February 1, 2023

I have been inspired by Pasinetti’s clear expositions. A lot of my work is an attempt to build on his theory of structural economic dynamics.
Some highlights of Pasinetti’s career as an economist:

A derivation, in Pasinetti (1962), of the Cambridge equation, r = g/sc. Along a steady-state growth path, the rate of profit must be equal to the quotient of the rate of growth and the savings rate out of profits. This is an extension of Keynes’ theory that investment creates the needed savings to the long run, and it applies whether or not workers save.
First numerical example of the reswitching of techniques in a model of an economy as a whole, with multiple industries producing inputs for one another. Pasinetti (1966) is an update of a paper presented previously in Rome and a refutation

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Joseph Schumpeter, Neo-Marxist; Walter Lippman, Fabian Socialist

January 28, 2023

Alfred Marshall, A. C. Pigou, John Neville Keynes, and John Maynard Keynes were also all Fabian socialists.
And fascism is a kind of socialism.
I learn
these interesting facts from Zygmund Dobbs’ book, Keynes at Harvard: Economic Deception as a Political Credo.
I refer to the 1962 second edition. This book was spewed out by the Veritas Foundation,
a reactionary think tank, I guess,
associated with a grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.

This book purports to be an examination of how colleges at the time are subverting America by promoting socialism,
with a focus on the economics department at Harvard. Strangely enough, no examination of the contents of Keynes’
theories or of the teaching at Harvard is included. It is all about motives and extremely loose associations of
individuals. For

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Engels To Mehring On False Consciousness

January 27, 2023

The following is from Friedrich Engels’ letter to Franz Mehring of 14 July 1893:

London, 14 July 1893

Dear Mr. Mehring,

It has taken me until today to get round to thank you for the Lessing-Legende you were so kind as to send me. I did not wish merely to send you a
formal note acknowledging receipt of the book, but also and at the same time
to say something about it – its contents. Hence the delay.

Let me begin at the end – with the appendix, ‘II ber den historischen
Materialismus’ in which you have brilliantly collated the essentials in a
manner that must convince any impartial reader. If I have any criticism to
make, it is that you accord me more merit than I deserve, even if one takes
account of what I may, perhaps, have found out for myself – in course

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Martin Luther King, Jr., Was A Democratic Socialist

January 23, 2023

I was prompted to write this post by Matthew Yglesias’s post
from Martin Luther King Day.

"[A. Philip] Randolph, of course, continued as a major leader in the struggle until his death in 1979.
When I became deeply involved in the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties, I was a conscious
Randolphite, dedicated to the program of an integrated class struggle against both exploitation and
racism. And when I began to work with Martin Luther King, Jr., I discovered that he, too, had much the
same view. After the first time that we were able to talk together at length – which was over several
days in Los Angeles in 1960 when we were hiding him in a hotel room so that the representatives of the
various Democratic presidental candidates could not pester him for endorsements – I

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CCC Does Not Depend On Reswitching

January 21, 2023

The logical possibility of the reswitching of techniques is a devastating challenge to marginalism. But the Cambridge capital
controversy does not depend on the presence of reswitching. I suppose I should have links for the possibilities listed below.
None of these possibilities are fluke cases.

One might make a distinction between the reswitching of techniques and the recurrence of techniques.
In both cases a technique is cost-minimizing at two non-overlapping ranges of the wage. If only one technique is
cost-minimizing at wages between these ranges, that is reswitching. If more than one technique is cost-minimizing between,
then one should talk about the recurrence of techniques. I forget where I have seen this not very common and not very useful distinction.

Capital reversing

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Translation Between The Language Of Classical Economists And Marginalists

January 20, 2023

Lately, when trying to write up my results I use terminology from
classical political economy. The table below maps some terms
from classical political economy to terminology for marginalists.

ClassicalMarginalistUse valueUtilitySupplyQuantity suppliedDemandQuantity demanded(Normal) profitsInterestExtra profits(Pure) economic profitsSupernormal profitsMarket pricesShort run pricesNatural pricesLong run pricesPrices of production
I probably am leaving some important mapping out. Nuances, at least,
exist to distinguish between entries in rows in the tables.
And maybe it depends on which classical or marginalist economist you
read, and which of their works. I think the first row is the most questionable.

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Reswitching Of The Order Of Fertility

January 16, 2023

Figure 1: An Example of the Reswitching of the Order of Fertility1.0 Introduction

Nobody has ever pointed out the possibility highlighted by this post, as far as I know.
This post can be contrasted with this one.
Talk of "switch points" and "reswitching" for the wage curves on the left pane
in Figure 1 above is, arguably, an abuse of terminology. Quantity flows
do not change around the switch points. The same lands are fully
farmed, and the same land that is partially farmed has the same quantity
left fallow.

This post presents a numerical example of extensive rent in which the order of rentability does not vary
with distribution. Rent curves do not intersect. Yet the ranking of lands
by fertility varies with distribution. The same order of fertility appears at low and high rates

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John Barkley Rosser, Jr. (1948-2023)

January 14, 2023

Barkley Rosser’s professional contributions include the study of complex dynamics in economic models, development and transition economics,
observations on the sociology of economists,
and editorship. I knew him through Internet discussions and his editing of one of my articles.
Peter Dorman has an obituary.

Rosser’s major book on complexity economics went through two editions. I am not sure I ever made it totally
through his book.
I think of
him as building on, in the Post-Keynesian tradition, some
work by Nicholas Kaldor
and Richard Goodwin, for example.
Plenty of work on mainstream models
can also display complex dynamics. I find particularly intriguing Rosser’s work connecting
the reswitching of techniques to a cusp catastrophe.
The one aspect of his comparison and contrast of

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Herb Gintis (1940 – 2023)

January 7, 2023

[embedded content]An Academic Lecture from Gintis
I know of Herb Gintis more of as an Internet personality than
through his work, mostly with
Samuel Bowles.
I also know of him as an important historical figure in one of those periodic purges of the Harvard
economics departments.

As I understand it, he went to Harvard for a graduate degree towards the end of the 1960s, intending to study mathematics.
He was against the Vietnam war and fell in with a radical crowd. Given this interest in worldly matters, he became
an economist. Since he was a radical, he began exploring Marx.
Somewhere around this time, he met Samuel Bowles.
They could not find anybody in the economics department
to teach them Marx and, I guess, learned Marx through self study.
The Union for Radical Political Economics

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Reswitching Of The Order Of Rentability

January 3, 2023

Figure 1: An Example of the Reswitching of the Order of Rentability1.0 Introduction

Nobody has ever pointed out the possibility highlighted by this post, as far as I know.
Talk of "switch points" and "reswitching" for the rent curves on the right pane
in Figure 1 above is an abuse of terminology.

Under capitalism, land obtains rent because land is scarce. The power of the state backs
up individuals prohibiting others from using free gifts of nature. (Propertarians
are about encouraging government intervention in the economy.)

Consider a system of prices of production, given the rate of profits. Whether or not a type of land receives a rent can vary with
the rate of profits. Suppose two landlords own different kinds of land, both of which obtain rent. Who receives more rent per acre

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A Choice Of Books

January 2, 2023

This post is for my use next time I go book shopping.

Bellino, Enrico. 2021. Production, Value and Income Distribution: A Classical-Keynesian Approach
Butler, Gavan. 2018. Political Economy Now! The Struggle for Alternative Economics at the University of Sydney
Cuyvers, Ludo. 2022. Neo-Marxism and Post-Keynesian Economics: From Kalecki to Sraffa and Joan Robinson
Pierangelo Garegnani. 2023. Capital Theory, the Surplus Approach, and Effect Demand: An Alternative Framework for the Analysis of Value, Distribution and Output Levels
Heym, Stefan. 2022. Radek: A Novel
Negri, Antonio. 2021. Marx in Movement: Operaismo in Context
Paull, Laline. 2023. Pod (A review).

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A Fluke Case For Extensive Rent

December 27, 2022

Figure 1: Wage Curves and Rent for an Example of Extensive Rent
This is basically an introduction to a draft research article.
Maybe I have difficulty in justifying paying attention to the type of fluke points I haqve been exploring and in formally defining why they
are flukes.

In this post, I present a partition of a parameter space associated with an example of extensive rent. It is probably too
complicated to replace this example.
Anyways, I have constructed a new fluke case. Here a switch point associated with a variation in the order of fertility
is also associated with a variation in the order of rentability. I suppose one can read David Ricardo as mistakenly
thinking this was the general case.

The analysis of the choice of technique in models of extensive rent can be based on

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December 24, 2022

[embedded content]Mary Filippo’s "My Mis-Education in 3 Graphics"Discussion between Unlearning Economics and Blair Fix
An article in Current Affairs on "The death of ‘Econ 101’"
A symposium in Contributions to Political Economy
John Eatwell, Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence
Theodore Mariolis and Panagiotos Veltsistas, Zero measure Sraffian economies: new insights from actual input-output tables
Jacobo Ferrer Hernándex and Luis Daniel Torres-González, Some recent developments in the explanation of the empirical relationship between prices and distribution
Anwar Shaikh, Marx, Sraffa and classical price theory
Bertram Schefold, What remains of the Cambridge critique? A new proposal
Edward Nell, Do linear wage-profit equations support neoclassical theory?

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An Outline Of A History Of Socialism

December 21, 2022

In my study of economics, I have learned a bit about socialism.

Writing a book based on this outline is a years-long project. Some parts are not filled out in the outline because
I know too much and my thoughts are unorganized (not that you might disagree with my emphasis and story). Others are not filled out because I know too little. I am aware
I have spelling mistakes. Some needs to be reorganized.

Introduction, Overall Themes
Socialists advocate that capitalism be replaced by a post capitalist society in which the workers, who constitute the vast majority of the population in an industrial society, collectively make decisions on what to produce and how to produce it. From this perspective, advocates of socialism cannot exist until after capitalism has been established.

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Journals To Which I Might Submit Articles

December 19, 2022

I am thinking about my work of fluke switch points.
Here are some possibilities, some of which are more of a stretch:

Bulletin of Political Economy
Cahiers D’Économie Politique
Cambridge Journal of Economics
Capital & Class
Contributions to Political Economy
Economic Systems Research
Review of International Political Economy
Review of Political Economy
Review of Radical Political Economics
Science and Society
Structural Change and Economic Dynamics

Cato the elder ended every speech with, "Carthago delenda est", whatever the topic.
Maybe articles in these journals should end with "marginalism was destroyed a half-century ago".

Somebody, maybe not me, should be submitting recaps of why marginalism is mistaken to outlets like the

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