chapter  2
Rhetoric and substance in value theory: an appraisal of the new orthodox Marxism
Pages 18

Introductory perspectives Along the road to discovery in political economy, there are many false trails; indeed, one can pretty much expect to be exploring those trails, or culs-de-sac, in the service of finding the high road to progress. This too is dialectics: if we knew in advance where the highway lay, the false trails wouldn’t be false; they wouldn’t be able to serve their distracting purpose. The next three chapters of this book are explicitly polemical. This chapter, and Chapter 4, are devoted to examination of a point of view that has sprung up in recent years, and has come to be called the “Temporal Single System Interpretation” (TSSI) of Marx’s theory of value and crisis. The authors and their works are cited within the chapters, so those references need not be repeated here. I do need to explain, however, one aspect of this chapter’s origin. A debate developed during the 1990s within the International Working Group in Value Theory (IWGVT), which had been organized to hold annual conferences as part of the annual meeting of the Eastern Economic Association in the United States. (The IWGVT had significant participation from England, Mexico, Italy, Greece, and other countries.) This chapter first emerged in the framework of those meetings, and was prepared for inclusion in a book that subsequently came to be titled The New Value Controversy and the Foundations of Economics (Freeman et al., 2004). First proposed around 1997, the book was considerably delayed, and in the event I decided to publish the article on which this chapter is based in Science & Society (Laibman, 2000). I mention this only to explain the archaic quality of some of the terminology in the article, in particular the “orthodox” characterization and the acronym NOMist (“new orthodox Marxist”), which, while arguably accurate, is perhaps not the most elegant term, and certainly not the one (TSS, or TSSI) that subsequently came into general use. I have chosen to keep the original formulations, rather than doing ex post surgery: my little concession to historical time, as opposed to theoretical time (see Chapter 4).