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Robert Vienneau

Articles by Robert Vienneau

Some Quotations On What You Deserve

5 days ago

When one achieves at least partial enlightenment, one will realize that one’s income
does not necessarily reward productivity, effort, or any other virtue.

"For we each of us deserve everything, every luxury that was ever piled in the tombs of the dead kings, and we each of us deserve nothing, not a mouthful
of bread in hunger. Have we not eaten while another starved? Will you punish us for that? Will you reward us for the virtue of starving while others ate?
No man earns punishment, no man earns reward. Free your mind of the idea of deserving, the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think." — Ursula K. Leguin, The Dispossessed.

"Pity? It’s a pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo?
Do not

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A Letter From Marx To Engels In 1868 On The Transformation Problem

8 days ago

In this letter, Marx outlines the three volumes of Capital.
I know about this letter from Fred Moseley’s Money and Totality (2016).
Is this where scholars learned about Marx’s mother (-in-law?)
saying, "If only Karl had accumulated capital instead of writing
about it"?
The context is a discussion, in a couple of previous letters, of the effects of inflation on the rate of profits.
This letter is more evidence that Marx was quite
conscious of the transformation problem.
(Theories of Surplus Value is definitive evidence.)
I think Marx’s distinction
between vulgar and classical political economy, on commodity fetishism, on the illusions created by competition
is central to his political economy. It is not an idea to be found in Ricardo.
Marx also has a more elaborate taxonomy of capital

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9 days ago

[embedded content]Cordelia Belton at Red MayMatthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell’s Know Your Enemy podcast.
Benedict and Kevin’s Not Your Grandmother’s Book Club podcast.
Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman’s Radio Free Humanity podcast.
Doug Henwood on McCarthyism.
Peter Boetkke and Rosolino Candela On the feasibility of technosocialism.
An old essay of mine on a Sraffian interpretation of Marx.

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Rate Of Profits As A Weighted Sum Of Value Rate Of Profits

15 days ago

1.0 Introduction

Stefano Perri has a working paper,
"Sraffa’s response to Eaton’s review: a note on the standard commodity and Marx’s general profit rate".
In this post, I present the analysis rewritten in matrix notation.
The claim is, more or less, that the rate of profits in the system of prices of production
is the weighted average of the rates of profits, by industry, in the system of labor values.
Each weight is the product of the labor value of capital advanced in that industry
and the quantity of the gross output of that industry in the standard system.

This post is unsatisfying. I end up with a claim that I do not see how to
prove offhand.

2.0 Parameters and Assumptions

The setting is a model of circulating capital, with wages advanced and specified as a
given commodity

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Böhm-Bawerk On The Close Of Marx’s System

21 days ago

1.0 Introduction

I have previously quoted
authorities disparaging Böhm-Bawerk’s pamphlet examining the supposed contradiction
between volumes 3 and 1 of Marx’s Capital.
I refer to Karl Marx and the Close of His System, first published in German, in 1896. Engels brought out
volume 3 of Marx’s Capital in 1894.
Böhm-Bawerk’s treatment, although it ultimately misses the point, is important from a historical angle:

"…the historical importance of
Böhm-Bawerk’s criticism of Marx … should not lead us
into the error of falsely evaluating the work itself. The truth is
that in its essentials Karl Marx and the Close of His System is
not a particularly remarkable performance." — Paul M. Sweezy, from the editor’s introduction.

I find I also agree with Andrew Kliman. A good bibliography on

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Von Mises Confused About Formal Reasoning, Praxeology

26 days ago

1.0 Introduction

In his book, Human Action, Ludwig von Mises defines ‘praxeology’ as the
science of human action. He says that it is a subject of formal reasoning.
Human action is conscious action in which the actor attempts to decrease
felt uneasiness.
‘Catallactics’ is a subset of praxeology treating market exchanges.
But von Mises is quite confused.

2.0 Does Formal Reasoning Enlarge Our Knowledge?

Von Mises does not know. At one point, he says formal reasoning does
enlarge our reasoning. And he takes geometry as an example:

"All geometrical theorems are already implied in the axioms. The
concept of a rectangular triangle already implies the theorem of
Pythagoras. This theorem is a tautology, its deduction results in an
analytic judgment. Nonetheless nobody would contend that

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Books With ‘Capital’ In Their Title On My Bookshelf

29 days ago

Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818. Over half a century ago, economists,
building on the work of Piero Sraffa, extended Marx’s critique. They
showed that his approach to political economy was basically correct. The marginal
revolution was a mistake.

Here are the titles of some of the books on my bookshelf:

Syed Ahmad. 1991. Capital in Economic Theory: Neo-classical, Cambridge and Chaos. Edward Elgar.
C. E. Ayres. 1946. The Divine Right of Capital. Houghton Mifflin.
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. 1959. Capital and Interest (Three volumes). Libertarian Press.
Jack Birner. 2002. The Cambridge Controversies in Capital Theory: A Study in the Logic of Theory Development. Routledge.
James Crotty. 2019. Keynes Against Capitalism: His Economic Case for Liberal Socialism. Routledge.

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Marx and Engels Collected Works

April 24, 2023

Several editions have been published of the works of Marx and Engels. One can also look in the Marxists Internet Archive. Many
individual works have been published in various translations in various places. Marx’s manuscripts ended up in the
Institute of Social History (ISH), in Amsterdam.

A first attempt was started in 1927, the first Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), in which the works were to be published
in their original languages. This project was never completed. David Riazanov, the first editor, was shot in 1938, after
the usual show trial. The Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) sponsored a Russian edition,
published from 1928 through 1947. A second Russian edition was begun in 1955. It contains 47 books, with some volumes

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‘The’ Labor Theory of Value

April 20, 2023

1.0 Introduction

This post argues that there is more than one labor theory of value.

2.0 The Labor Theory of Property

John Locke argued
that what one mixes one labor with, one has a right to own.
One could read Marx’s Capital as a reductio ad absurdum
of this labor theory of property. I disagree with this reading.

3.0 Labor Commanded as a Theory of Welfare

Given a unit of money – one dollar or one british pound – the labor commanded by that money is the amount of person-years of labor
you can hire with that money. This quantity of the labor is the reciprocal of the wage.
The following quotation from Adam Smith, I assert, is NOT a statement of a theory of value:

"The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of

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What Is Leninism?

April 17, 2023

Table 1: Selected Events
1853 – 1856Crimean war.1861Emanicpation of the serfs under Alexander II.1877 – 1878Russo-Turkisk war.1881Alexander II assassinated by a Narodnik conspiracy.1883Plekhanov founds Emancipation of Labor Group, struggles against Narodniks.1898Russian Social Democratic Labor Party founded, first congress.1900 – 1901First publications of Iskra, an all-Russian underground newspaper for the RSDLP.1902Lenin publishes What is to be done?1903Second party congress of RSDLP, splits into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.1904 – 1905Russo-Japanese War1905Russian revolution (failed).1906First election to the Duma.1914Start of Worl War I, with assassination on 28 June of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.5 to 8 September 1915Zimmerwald conference.February (old style) 1917Revolution, Nicholas

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April 11, 2023

Guido Lorenzoni and Ivan Werning. Inflation is Conflict. Bob Rowthorn is referenced, as he should be.
Frederick Guy and Peter Skott. 2005. Power-Biased Technical Change and the Rise in Earnings Inequality. The references on twitter must be to something more recent.
Seth Ackerman interview with James Forder, about the myths economists believe about the Philipps curve and
1970s stagflation.
Cybersocialist planning. This Jacobin article talks about Ian Wright’s work among others.
Matt Zwolinski and John Tomasi. 2023. The Individualists: Radical, Reactionaries, and the Struggle for the Soul of Libertarianism. Princeton University Press.
Deepankar Basu. 2022. The Logic of Capital: An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory. Cambridge University Press.

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On Marginal Productivity: Some Propositions Of Price Theory

April 7, 2023

In mainstream economics, marginal productivity does not determine distribution. Furthermore, every correct proposition of marginal
productivity theory is consistent, under competitive conditions, with Marx’s claim that workers are exploited by capitalists.

Assume technology is given, the economy is in a stationary state, and one knows what technique is chosen.
(Ludwig von Mises called a stationary state an ‘evenly rotating economy’.) The technique consists of a list of the physical
inputs and outputs in each industry in which a commodity is produced. Following convention, I call such a list in a given industry, a process.
I assume the chosen technique is cost-minimizing. Furthermore, inputs are themselves produced commodities, with the exception of (types of) labor and land.


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Why Did Marx Advocate Socialism?

March 27, 2023

1.0 Introduction

I find the question in the title of this post hard to answer. I should probably
say something about secondary literature, which I do not consider myself well-informed on.
For purposes of this post, I ignore distinctions between socialism and communism.

2.0 Marx Wanted To Implement An Utopian Vision Of A Post-Capitalist Society

You will sometimes find reactionaries assert that wherever Marxism was implemented, the government killed tens of millions.
They are too ignorant to know that the phrase ‘implement Marxism’ might be meaningless. It is like saying, ‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.’

Marx never drew up a plan for a post-capitalist society. In the afterword to the second German edition of volume 1 of Capital, he mocks the very idea:

"Thus the Paris Revue

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Profiles Of Socialists From Jacobin

March 24, 2023

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

March 17, 2023

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

March 11, 2023

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

March 6, 2023

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

March 4, 2023

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

March 2, 2023

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

February 27, 2023

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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