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Comrades, In his posting (below) Jim Farmelent mentioned Leonid Kantorovich ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonid_Kantorovich) as well as Paul Cockshott (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Cockshott). Here is Cockshott's article on Kantorovich, 'Calculation in Natura' ( https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0e3a/443d6fb314eb8b160576faa9928aa151d6fb.pdf), in which he begins with Otto Neurathâ€™s ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Neurath) proposition that economic calculation can be done and the efficient usage of resources accomplished without reference to a scalar "whether this be money, labour hours or kilowatt hours" (p12). Neurath supported his contention with reference to lessons that could be learned from "The war (WWI) economy had...been largely an in-kind economy. As a result of the war the in-kind calculus was applied more often and more systematically than before... It was all to apparent that war was fought with ammunition and the supply of food, not with money." (pp9-10). But, Cockshott writes, Neurath "arguably did not provide a practical means of doing this..." (p9). However Kantorovich did. Prior to examining that work Cockshott gives a tip of the hat to the contributions of John von Neumann (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann), eminent mathematician and quantum theorist whose work "unified the matrix mechanics of Heisenberg with the wave mechanics of Schrodinger" (15). Cockshott details that "His work on quantum mechanics coincided with the first draft of his economic growth model given as a lecture in Princeton in 1932. In both fields he employs vector spaces and matrix operators over vector spaces, complex vector spaces in the quantum-mechanical case, and real vector spaces in the growth model." While the language of the math-science is at or above my level of comprehension, a conclusion that he applied abstract mathematical modeling to the real problems of economic efficiency is plain ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann#Mathematical_economics). Cockshott cites others in proposing that von Neuman's insights were precursed by Robert Remak ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Remak_%28mathematician%29) who showed "for the first time how, starting from an in-natura description of the conditions of production, one can derive an equilibrium system of prices" (15). It is then asserted that von Neumann improved on this thinking by allowing "for there to be multiple techniques to produce any given good-Remak only allowed one" (16). However, "In the early 30s, no algorithmic techniques were known which would solve the more general problem where there can be joint production and multiple possible techniques to produce individual products" (17) when "Kantorovich came up with a method which later came to be known as linear programming or linear optimisation (19). Kantorovich wrote: "I discovered that a whole range of problems of the most diverse character relating to the scientific organization of production (questions of the optimum distribution of the work of machines and mechanisms, the minimization of scrap, the best utilization of raw materials and local materials, fuel, transportation, and so on) lead to the formulation of a single group of mathematical problems (extrernal problems). These problems are not directly comparable to problems considered in mathematical analysis. It is more correct to say that they are formally similar, and even turn out to be formally very simple, but the process of solving them with which one is faced [i.e., by mathematical analysis] is practically completely unusable, since it requires the solution of tens of thousands or even millions of systems of equations for completion. I have succeeded in finding a comparatively simple general method of solving this group of problems which is applicable to all the problems I have mentioned, and is sufficiently simple and effective for their solution to be made completely achievable under practical conditions" (19). Cockshott sums this up as "What was significant about Kantorovichâ€™s work was that he showed that it was possible, starting out from a description in purely physical terms of the various production techniques available, to use a determinate mathematical procedure to determine which combination of techniques will best meet plan targets" (19)." Cockshott goes on to describe Kantorovich's method and math in an altogether fascinating demonstration in which different machines with different capabilities even making different products and even different quantities of those different products can be chosen from the myriad of possibilities so as to achieve maximal results from minimal inputs. The point of all this (and the point of Cockshott's paper, I believe) is that with the collapsing of capitalism--happening now before our eyes and, unfortunately, not being assisted or hastened in its destruction to any meaningful extent by any great proletarian upsurge--can and must be assisted by the development of a socialist economic program that would detail how and with what and in what manners and ways can the existing economic substructure be adapted to the production of the necessary (and then even the desirable) human means of consumption and of those means of production necessary to facilitate this. This--again to my way of thinking--is in league with Marx' expositions of the nature, operation and laws of the fundamentals and the flaws of the capitalist system; only that Cockshott's exposition is prescriptive while Capital, et al are, as valuable as they are, remain merely descriptive; for they both are intended to be armaments fashioned to aid and be utilized by the working class in its historical mission to eliminate class. The one points to the sources of the problems; the other to their solutions. Cockshott's ideas on such a transitional socialist economy and its workings are fleshed out fully in his (and Allin F Cottrel's "Towards a New Socialism". ( https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Towards+a+New+Socialism%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8). We must discuss and develop and introduce into the popular social discourse the ways and means, the methods and manner, the program by which a socialist commonwealth--with the ultimate goal of global communism--can not only function but itself be amenable and adaptable to change with the ever-changing needs and desires of its constituents, the human race. JAI Message: 3 Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2017 03:42:56 GMT From: "Jim Farmelant" <farmela...@juno.com> To: marxism-tha...@lists.riseup.net, marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu Subject: [Marxism] Mathematical economics and political economy in the Soviet Union Message-ID: <20170624.234256.321...@webmail05.vgs.untd.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252 In the Soviet Union, the economics profession was divided into two branches: the political economists and the mathematical economists, with the great majority of Soviet economists being political economists. The political economists were trained mostly in the work of Marx & Engels, Lenin, and their successors. Most of them did not have much mathematical training and their published research made little use of mathematics. The mathematical economists on the other hand were trained very proficiently in higher mathematics and their work was very technical in nature. The mathematician and economist Leonid Kantarovich was one of the founding fathers of the Soviet school of mathematical economists and he would win both the Order of Lenin Medal and later the Nobel Prize in economics for his work as one of the founders of linear programming. One of their concerns was to try to make Soviet economic planning more rational and to that end they introduced a variety of optimization techniques which implicitly or explicitly relied upon marginalist economic ideas. So that way, a lot of neoclassical-type economic thinking was brought into the Soviet Union. Oskar Lange in a 1945 piece, Marxian Economics in the Soviet Union, which appeared in the American Economic Review, took note of the Soviet debates that were going on then over the law of value and whether this law is operative under socialism. Lange was of the opinion that this law is operative under socialism and on that basis he argued for the adoption of marginalist economic analysis as a tool for making socialist economic planning more rational. A few years later, Stalin came around to a somewhat similar position in his pamphlet, Economic Problems of the USSR. People like Lange would then cite Stalin's work as a basis for their own advocacy of economic reforms in the socialist bloc countries. One of my FB friends, Barkley Rosser, has said of his Russian-born wife, Marina Rosser, who was trained as an economist in the Soviet Union: "There was a split between "political economy" and the more mathematical "cybernetics." She went through both, meaning she knows her Marx more than you or Doug Henwood or even Paul Cockshott do by a country mile, She can cite chapter and verse all the way down to the most minute detail any of you can come up with,, and in her heyday before the KGB arrested and tortured her she had access to the Marx-Engels library, which still exists, which was only accessible to very high level people like her who also did major translations of foreign authors, She learned western econ through courses on "Bourgeous theories of economics," some of these taught by westerners such as the late Lynn Turgeon who was the person who was responsible for us meeting, who gave me her phone number when I went in 1984 to Moscow and met her. He gave her away in our wedding, and I remain grateful to him, and we wrote a published paper with others about his work later. She had the best English of any of his students at MGU, and translated his lectures into English, which were later published as a book. After she got out she worked at the Institiitute for International Economics and Relations (IMEMOE, I might have its precise title wrong, although it still exists) which in the old days advised the Central Committee of the CPSU, and she was involved with its 25 year planning activity when I arrived in 1984 to disrupt her Soviet economic career, BTW, one of her students after she started working at IMEMO was the current Chair of the Russian Central Bank, and, well, enough for now..." Jim Farmelant http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant _________________________________________________________ Full posting guidelines at: http://www.marxmail.org/sub.htm Set your options at: http://lists.csbs.utah.edu/options/marxism/archive%40mail-archive.com