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Thread: Anwar Shaikh

  1. #21
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Quote Originally Posted by CornetJoyce View Post
    Shaikh looks respectable to me.
    http://www.newschool.edu/nssr/faculty/Anwar-Shaikh/
    but I have no idea how dogmatic he is. I regard dogmatism as the spirit of Marxism, but the age of Marxist great powers and Marxist nukes is gone. For those who need a little dogma in their lives, Marxism may brighten their days.

    Dogma aside, we have seen many very damning assessments of capitalism over the years. It does not seem likely that this or any other book alone will suffice to push mainstream economics apologia over the cliff, but it's a likely candidate for the next World Forum, hopefully in concert with related books.
    Dogma is of course a relative thing, but one of the aims of the book is to revive Marx's theory of value (or at least certain elements of it), so you see the return of various "laws" (now turned into "principles" and "patterns"), "rates" (like "the rate of exploitation") and familiar concepts like "necessary labour time", with some formulas and numbers thrown in the mix to dazzle and mystify -- a common practice in abstract economics bereft of serious historical reflection and its embedding in the social (despite pretensions of being grounded in "the real", as Shaikh claims in the introduction). This is the kind of stuff "experts" or those anointed into the mystical arts of Marxist economics get excited over and write glowing reviews about in SWP rags, but has zero impact outside these marginal circles. Hence my ridiculing of the notion that it will be the basis of some sort of social or political movement. And while the same is true of Piketty and Stiglitz' works, at least they are part of the conversation in such movements, as their influence extends beyond the more marginal circles in academia, like those busying themselves with Marxist economic alchemy.

    Anyway, since I know your familiarity with Castoriadis' critique of the underlying premises of Marx's economics and his theory of value (which is sensible in my view), I assume you agree that these works of alchemy are pointless, except as means to get deified by some marginal folks in academia, sell a few books and attend a few conferences (less than Piketty though, so that stings).
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  2. #22
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Okay thanks for your contribution.

  3. #23
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Actually, Shaikh seems to be making quite the impact outside "marginal circles":


    https://seekingalpha.com/article/398...te-profit-rate is a pretty mainstream blog when it comes to economic analysis.

    He was also apparently involved in drafting Labour's most recent manifesto, so some are listening quite closely.

  4. #24
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    I'm also not sure why Amoeba insists that the work of people like Shaikh and Piketty, et alia, has to exist on a mutually exclusive plane. Popularity is also not a measureme?t of truth of value. So I'm not sure since when it became a vital tool for estimating worthwhile contributions to world literature or anything besides who gets to be Prom Queen.

    I happen to be reading Shaikh and Piketty at the same time. And Shaikh has only good things to say about Piketty, and is developing many of the same lines of argument- using many of the same tools - as Piketty. Only his tools of representation are quite unique: he is basically setting up an alternative paradigm by which to assess economic behavior. This is quite interesting for me as someone with an economics background, who has been taught for years that firms and households (and government,if you're lucky) behave this way. And Shaikh's work appears resolute to overturn that orthodoxy. I personally read the book whenever I get the chance and have enjoyed it tremendously thus far. There is nothing esoteric about it and much of it is the result of exhaustive analysis and empirical embedding that is trying exactly to break with the kind of esoteric, "reality built to fit the model" approach that so dominates economics today. And I like that he is attempting to open up a broader discourse a la political economy, which is what I am currently studying.

    Marx, of course, another critic of political economy.

  5. #25
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    That blog is irrelevant, as is giving a speech that's only been watched about 2000 times on YouTube, and his other videos don't do much better. Marginal circles, indeed.

    What evidence do you have he was involved in drafting Labour's manifesto in any way? Because it's not in that link.

    Popularity is also not a measureme?t of truth of value.
    No, but it's a measurement of whether it'll be the basis of a social or political movement like you suggested. That's absolutely delusional.

    As for it being esoteric, it's rather amazing how easily people universalize their personal interests, or at least imagine it's much more significant than it really is. In the real world hardly anyone cares about Marx's "theory of value"; even within academia it's a niche interest. If that isn't esoteric, I don't know what is.

    EDIT:
    I happen to be reading Shaikh and Piketty at the same time. And Shaikh has only good things to say about Piketty, and is developing many of the same lines of argument- using many of the same tools - as Piketty. Only his tools of representation are quite unique: he is basically setting up an alternative paradigm by which to assess economic behavior. This is quite interesting for me as someone with an economics background, who has been taught for years that firms and households (and government,if you're lucky) behave this way. And Shaikh's work appears resolute to overturn that orthodoxy. I personally read the book whenever I get the chance and have enjoyed it tremendously thus far. There is nothing esoteric about it and much of it is the result of exhaustive analysis and empirical embedding that is trying exactly to break with the kind of esoteric, "reality built to fit the model" approach that so dominates economics today. And I like that he is attempting to open up a broader discourse a la political economy, which is what I am currently studying.
    Aside from the disagreement over whether or not it's esoteric (I really have no idea how anyone can come to the conclusion that Shaikh's attempt to revive elements of Marx's theory of value isn't esoteric while the current economic orthodoxy is; both are, but one clearly is more than the other as it is more marginal within the marginal circles who preoccupy themselves with this stuff); I haven't said anything that discounts this. In fact, I said the following: "That's not to say that others can't derive value from the work of people like Shaikh, and that is has no merit as way of understanding economics, alongside the many others that are around. I was just merely expressing my own preference."

    Again, the point about relevance/popularity is solely concerned with Shaikh and his book's ability to the basis of, or have a significant influence on, any kind of social or political movement, as you suggested.

    I don't even believe that's the case for economists like Piketty and Stiglitz, though they're clearly more influential than Shaikh for what should be obvious reasons (like their influence in shaping McDonnell and Labour's economic policies, as I note below), let alone Shaikh.
    Last edited by Amoeba; 06-17-2017 at 1:56 PM.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  6. #26
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Incidentally, people who were involved in drafting Labour's economic policies include Stiglitz and Piketty: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34374349

    Presumably because they're not busy writing irrelevant, esoteric tomes attempting to capture "the reality of capitalism" by reviving elements of Marx's theory of value.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  7. #27
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    Incidentally, people who were involved in drafting Labour's economic policies include Stiglitz and Piketty: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34374349

    Presumably because they're not busy writing irrelevant, esoteric tomes attempting to capture "the reality of capitalism" by reviving elements of Marx's theory of value.
    And I suppose Piketty and Saez's poring through tomes of dusty old statistics on estate taxes is much more relevant? You have no point.

  8. #28
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    No. Read my edit:

    Again, the point about relevance/popularity is solely concerned with Shaikh and his book's ability to the basis of, or have a significant influence on, any kind of social or political movement, as you suggested.

    I don't even believe that's the case for economists like Piketty and Stiglitz, though they're clearly more influential than Shaikh for what should be obvious reasons (like their influence in shaping McDonnell and Labour's economic policies, as I note below), let alone Shaikh.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  9. #29
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    As for "universalizing personal interests", you are one to talk. You are the only one making mention of the labor theory of value, or other Marxist concepts here. You've alluded to your terrible "allergy", and you have asserted that you have not read a page of Shaikh. Why do you continue to put him in a box? That's what makes this discussion really, really boring and unengaging: you are scrutinizing someone whose ideas you are not familiar with. So, yes: do read the Bible before you comment on it. I have read much of the Bible(including while being incarcerated for longer stretches without much else to read than cheap science fiction pulp). I flirted with the idea of becoming a Catholic at one point in my life, but I decided that the idea of an omniscient, "personal" deity is a bit unzeitgemäß. However, I do feel it generally important to familiarize myself with someone's ideas before I critique them*.

    You don't seem to share that trait, and instead resort to a kind of hyperbolized polemics that relies on your own brand of universalizing, of taxonomizing based on incomplete information. I guess that's very shrewd. But it's not productive in this type of discussion, and that's why this train is still stalled at the station.

    Shaikh's book is clearly directed at a more academic audience than is Piketty's, which I am also reading at present. But that is his intent with the book: to challenge the economists. The two books have a different ethos; you are "comparing figs to watermelons".

    If you want to discuss Shaikh in some substantive way -including critically - then please let's start. But I'm not participating in a discussion with the trajectory of the present one. It has no point.

    *As a note, I recently purchased a 6 volume set of Lenin's works in German. I put that aside for now, but want to get around to reading it.

  10. #30
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    I've actually since read the introduction to the book, the SWP review of it you linked to and watched a few videos wherein Shaikh explains the main contours of it. So my judgment as to the nature of the project he's engaged in is based on more than just an allergy.

    However, where I do agree with you is that it's pointless to engage in a thorough critique of the book without having read and carefully studied it. It's highly unlikely that I will, partly because I believe anyone relying on Marx's economic categories and theory of value (however critically and selectively) is fundamentally misguided for reasons laid out by Castoriadis in this piece (PDF), and because I simply don't have the time given other reading commitments.

    If that changes, I'll let you know. But as long as it doesn't, I agree it's best to leave it there.

    Just a small note on the more general point about challenging economists: Shaikh's is one way of going about it, and it's good that people like him exist to do it in that way (alongside many others like Bowles/Gintis who have done particularly good work on the myth of the "rational actor" that pervades mainstream economics, also a concern of Shaikh's); another is to demystify economics-as-science in toto, without offering a replacement "scientific model". Some good volumes in that genre are Sublime Economy (PDF), Post-Modernism, Economics and Knowledge and Postmodern Moments in Modern Economics, though they might not be your cup of tea.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  11. #31
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    I know Bowles and Gintis. I have corresponded with both personally, and actually should get back to Bowles on an interview he once promised me...

    Their work was the basis of my Bachelor's thesis, which has since been published in an irrelevant academic journal: http://ethicsinprogress.org/wp-conte...en_104-152.pdf

  12. #32
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Also, Shaikh's introductory chapter (chapter one) where he spells out his program runs about 80 pages. A dense 80 pages. not sure what you read.

  13. #33
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Page 3 to 55, titled "introduction", and divided into two sections, "the approach of the book" and "outline of the book".
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  14. #34
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    You're right, it is only 50. Felt like 80.

  15. #35
    Senior Voting Member KC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    It sounds interesting but 1,000 pages is pretty damn impenetrable.
    "I do not claim that every incident in the history of empire can be explained in directly economic terms. Economic interests are filtered through a political process, policies are implemented by a complex state apparatus, and the whole system generates its own momentum."

  16. #36
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    It sounds interesting but 1,000 pages is pretty damn impenetrable.
    I mean, if you're going to read it in its entirety, you can write a graduate level thesis on the book. However, when you compare it to other advanced introductions to macroeconomics / microeconomics, the book is quite reasonable in length. Capitalism is an impenetrable system, and Shaikh does an excellent job at outlining some of the more prescient / dominant structural factors at play in influencing / determining outcomes, for instance, his analysis of the equalizing rate of profit across industries, his notion of "real competition" and the subsidiary discussion of theories of competition in mainstream (and heterodox) schools, and so on. You don't have to read every appendix or every chapter to understand his point, but it's a really exhaustively written book - 15 years in the making.

    A bit of background:


  17. #37
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    This talk started automatically after the above video (which I had seen before) finished. I had not seen it. A fascinating lecture. I enjoyed his discussion of "the developmental state", with regards to the discussion of China. As The Dear Leader suggests, China "cheats us". Shaikh seems to have another interpretation…

  18. #38
    Senior Voting Member KC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    Quote Originally Posted by Nim Chimpsky View Post
    I mean, if you're going to read it in its entirety, you can write a graduate level thesis on the book. However, when you compare it to other advanced introductions to macroeconomics / microeconomics, the book is quite reasonable in length. Capitalism is an impenetrable system, and Shaikh does an excellent job at outlining some of the more prescient / dominant structural factors at play in influencing / determining outcomes, for instance, his analysis of the equalizing rate of profit across industries, his notion of "real competition" and the subsidiary discussion of theories of competition in mainstream (and heterodox) schools, and so on. You don't have to read every appendix or every chapter to understand his point, but it's a really exhaustively written book - 15 years in the making.

    A bit of background:

    Perhaps but I'm not really one to just read a portion of a book. I'd rather see a 100-200 page companion that I can read on its own that argues the important points. Maybe in time there will be as such, like there have been for other important economics works. Nevertheless I'm interested in the content, 1000 pages or 30 lectures just seems like an absolutely impenetrable presentation form to me. And this is someone interested in what he has to say. I understand it's a purely academic work, hence the length and impenetrability, yet don't understand how the method of presentation couldn't have been considered as well? Clearly Shaikh had to have thought that the length and density of the work was going to massively limit the amount of people that read it?

    Anyways, is there somewhere I can go to just read the main points? How is this different than other works out there? What's new/groundbreaking in it and what is he arguing that's novel? Further, going along the theme of the other posters here, how is this work going to have an actual impact? Have you seen any impact at this point yet, given that it's been out for more than a year? Hasn't Shaikh been arguing most of these points already?
    "I do not claim that every incident in the history of empire can be explained in directly economic terms. Economic interests are filtered through a political process, policies are implemented by a complex state apparatus, and the whole system generates its own momentum."

  19. #39
    Rightwing left liberalism/Careerism RevForum Administrator Nim Chimpsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    The article from the Columbo Telegraph that i posted earlier is a good summary of some of the main points. There are also lots of one hour lectures that he has given, including one that I posted above. The lecture series (30 videos) comprises a course he taught around the book. It's one semester's worth of lectures. It's a "class", basically.

    More later.

  20. #40
    Administrator RevForum Administrator CornetJoyce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anwar Shaikh

    To whatever extent Shaikh can exorcise Walras and those guys from university departments, let us wish him success. I predict that he will not succeed in replacing them with the labor myth of value, but that's neither here nor there.

    It occurs to me, by the way, that "crisis is endemic to the system" is true, but it does not follow that crisis lifts us toward a brave new "system" or even toward an amelioration of the "system." The "long depression," as it's sometimes called. of 1873-1890's was also "the gilded age." The global crisis of the 21st century produces more billionaires in two weeks than inhabited the planet fifty years ago.

    Broadly, this class of business men, in so far as they have no ulterior strategic ends to serve, have an interest in making the disturbances of the system large and frequent, since it is in the conjunctures of change that their gain emerges.
    - Veblen

    Crisis is not a failure of the system but its harvest time.
    Last edited by CornetJoyce; 06-21-2017 at 7:05 AM.
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