Paul Cockshott’s Collected Economic and Political Works

See the full list

Leadership Democracy and Transitions.  Verbatim transcript of a talk given at the Workers Educational Association in Stockholm in Nov 2010, covering the ideas of direct democracy in the early Social Democratic movement and how these were lost during the 20th century and the catastrophic effect this had in countries like Russia. My thanks to Joonas Laine for recording and transcribing the talk. See also the SLIDES which went with the talk.

Extending Electronic Democracy to cover Budget decisions. A paper that describes how multidimensional decisions about taxes and expenditure can be decided in a consistent and secure way using mobile phone votes. There is a growing realisation that the populace need to be consulted on a more regular basis about issues that concern them. We address a particular economic problem, that of national budgeting, and show how digital technology can be applied in an understandable way in this domain. The current situation is that governments are reluctant to conduct plebiscites due to the expenses inherent in the traditional voting model. Handivote is a system which allows maximal participation, using a ubiquitous input mechanism, the mobile phone, to support decision-making. In this paper we show how the Handivote system could be extended to invite voter input into national economic decisions. Our proposal includes an algorithm which maximises voter satisfaction in the presence of budgetary constraints, and the preferences revealed by the vote. Slides for the talk.

Theoretical discussion of Kantorovich and Soviet cybernetics is in Mises, Kantorovich and Economic Computation

Laws of motion of Capitalism – this is a presentation developed by Dave Zachariah out of material that the two of us have discussed. It is in many ways a presentation of the key ideas of our Conservation Laws paper which is next in the list.

Conservation laws, financial entropy and the Eurozone crisis, with Dave Zachariah,
The report attempts of apply econophysics concepts to the Eurozone crisis. It starts by examining the idea of conservation laws as applied to market economies. It formulates a measure of financial entropy and gives numerical simulations indicating that this tends to rise. We discuss an analogue for free energy released during this process. The concepts of real and symbolic appropriation are introduced as a means to analyse debt and taxation. We then examine the conflict between the conservation laws that apply to commodity exchange with the exponential growth implied by capital accumulation and how these have necessitated a sequence of evolutionary forms for money, and go on to present a simple stochastic model for the formation of rates of interest and a model for the time evolution of the rate of profit.

Finally we apply the conservation law model to examining the Euro Crisis and the European Stability pact, arguing that if the laws we hypothesise actually hold, then the goals of the stability pact are unobtainable.

Defence of Empirical Evidence: draft reply to Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan in response to their criticisms of our previous work in their book Capital as Power. It summarises the reasons why the observed empirical data tend to validate the theory that labour time is the source of exchange value.

Methods of modelling in the light of information theory and entropy, a paper prepared for the conference Nuevos paradigmas en la economia y ciencias sociales del Siglo XXI , to be held in Mexico City, October 2010 ( link disabled whilst paper is reviewed). Power point presentation slides here.

CREDIT CRUNCH: ORIGINS AND ORIENTATION PAUL COCKSHOTT AND DAVE ZACHARIAH , an article which looks at the causes of the credit crisis and how  economic policy should respond to it. 

Supplementary chapters for the draft French edition of Towards a New Socialism. These chapters were written in 2008 for a proposed French edition, but the French publisher withdrew after we had written the chapters. Since the chapters relate to general updateing of the work, and as such may be of interest to English language readers, I have made them available here.

Hilbert Space Models Commodity Exchanges Abstract. It is argued that the vector space measures used to mea- sure closeness of market prices to predictors for market prices are invalid because of the observed metric of commodity space. An alternative representation in Hilbert space within which such measures do apply is proposed. It is shown that commodity exchanges can be modeled by the application of unitary operators to this space.

Information and mass production
Babbage to Boltzman

Information theory whilst it grew out of the needs of the telecoms industry, was built on foundations provided by 19th century thermodynamics. Its domain of application has over the years been seen to widen. This talk shows how information theory helps us understand the key processes that made the industrial revolution possible, by examining the close connection between entropy,  information and the technologies of mass production.

Ambedcar, Baudrillard, Buddhism and Socialism An extended introduction to a proposed Indian edition of Towards a New Socialism that attempts to situate our work with respect to the Buddhist Socialism of the famous Dalit leader and intellectual Ambedcar.

Mises, Kantorovich and Economic Computation An article that reviews the work of Kantorovich in the light of von Mises claim that rational calculations were impossible without markets. It gives a tutorial introduction to the use of Kantorovich’s methods, compares his approach to that of Dantzig. An assesment is given of the extent to which new interior point methods of linear programming strengthen or weaken Kantorovich’s claims.Russian edition available as In Natura Calculation from Neurath to Kantorovich (   Расчёт в натуральной форме, от Нейрата до Канторовича ).

21st Century Marxism it was written for Junge Welt, a German left daily, in advance of a Berlin conference on Marxism for the 21st Century

Cantor Diagonalisation and Planning,Murphy (2006) recently argued that one could use the diagonal argument of the number theorist Cantor to elucidate issues that arose in the socialist calculation debate of the 1930s. We will here argue that Murphy’s argument has certain problems, both at the number theoretic level and from the standpoint of economic realism.

Boettke Syntax and the Turing Test, a reply by Greg Michaelson, Allin Cottrell and I to a paper on Methodology by Boettke which he published in Cahiers D Epistemolgie. Boettke is a prominent economist of the Austrian school.

Computers and the Economic Calculation Debate, talk given in Jan 2006 in Berlin.

Application of Artificial Intelligence Techniques to Economic Planning (pdf), HTML version, Paper dates from the early 1990s but was recently OCRed by Helmut Dunkhase to make it accessible over the web.

Information, Work, and Meaning an introduction to information theory by me and Greg Michaelson, it relationship to thermodynamics and to classical political economy with particular emphasis on how it applies to industrial mass production.

What is at stake in the debate on value ( pdf version ). ‘> html version. Paper outlines the empirical data on correlations between labour values and prices and discusses various objections that have been raised in the literature to these.

Demography and long term profit rates We discuss the original formulation of the theory of the falling rate of profit by Marx and the criticisms of the theory’s micro-foundations by Roemer. We then counterpose to this an alternative macroeconomic interpretation in which the falling rate of profit is driven by demographic factors. We follow this up with an examination of why the assumptions made in Roemer’s analysis are empirically unjustified. In particular we criticize his use of the average rate of profit rather than the monetary interest rate as the regulator of investment decisions. We conclude with an examination of the social implications of a declining rate of profit.

Reflections on economic democracy, paper that is appearing in Research in Political Economy

A Note on the Significance of the Standard Commodity in Sraffa’s System, a joint paper with Ajit Sinha. The paper discusses the role of the Standard Commodity as a numeraire. We argue that the heart of Sraffa’s motivation for introducing the Standard Commodity was the dependence of relative prices on technical conditions in the basic sector. We show, by constructing a large class of worked examples that the direction of price movements under technical change will be dependent on the numeraire. If the choice of numeraire is arbitrary then so are the relative movement directions of prices under technical change. Joint.pdf, Pretty print output of a program to evaluate the hypothesis that the direction of movement of a commodities price under technical change can be dependent on the numeraire. This is the program used to evaluate the hypothesis discussed above. The Vector Pascal source of the program is available as Joint.pas

Symmetries and exchange relations, Exploration of how to use metric space theory to develop the chartalist theory of money.

Hunting productive work. The paper, jointly with Dave Zacharaih summarises the definitions of productive labour derived from Smith and Marx. It attempts to develop a more general definition deriving from Sraffa’s standard commodity and the theory of relative surplus value. The implications of the new definition for the examination of highly socialised capitalist economies like Sweden are examined. .

Vector Space Metrics in Economics. Argues that capitalist economic activity can be modeled by rotation operators acting on a Hilbert space.

The organic composition of capital and profit rates, Appeared 2003 in Cambridge Journal of Economics. Shows that industries with high organic composition have low profit rates. The source data for this is available to others as a spreadsheet ,that shows the rates of profit by industry for the USA in 1987, against the organic composition of capital for these industries. It shows, that counter to expectation, industries with a high organic composition of capital have a low rate of profit and vice versa. The spreadsheet is an excel one.

The Scientific Status of the Labour Theory of Value, a paper which uses Chaitin Kolmogorov complexity theory to evaluate the accuracy of the predictions of different economic theories of valuee.

Value, markets and socialism Examines the very limited role for markets in a socialist economy and the different form of appearance that value ( abstract labour ) has in such an economy.

Value’s Law Value’s Metric: RR-94-168 An investigation into the metric space generated by commodity exchange. Provides empirical data comparing labour and electricity as the possible supports for this metric space.

Notes on Dynamic Value (pdf version) An attempt to come up with a simultaneist value theory that handles fixed capital and technical change.

The declining rate of profit and technical change an examination of the effect of moral depreciation on profit rates. An version in postscript is also available.

Testing Marx: Some new results from UK data This paper was published in the Spring 1995 edition of Capital and Class. It covers among other topics the degree to which industrial output prices in the UK correspond to those predicted by labour values. Corrections to the data originally published.

Value price transformation as a real process : rr-167-94 Published as “Does Marx Need to Transform?”, by Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott for a conference on the centenary of the publication of Volume 3 of Marx’s Capital, which took place in Bergamo in December 1994. The paper argues, on an empirical basis, that actual prices fall somewhere between the untransformed labor values of Capital, Volume 1, and the prices of production discussed by Marx in Volume 3.

Information and economics A critique of Hayek : rr-166-94 Written jointly with Allin Cottrell, looks at the concept of information as presented by Hayek and compares it with that used in modern information theory. It questions the extent to which Hayeks economic conclusions are sustainable on information theoretic grounds. Russian edition     Information and economics, ( Информация и экономика: критика Хайека)
An extended and updated version of this paper was  produced in 2007 that  reinforced the original conclusions with recent results in economic computability theory.

“Calculation, Complexity and Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Once Again,” by Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott, published in ROPE, summer 1993. We present a counter-argument against Mises’ charge that rational economic calculation is impossible under socialism (a charge recently revived by Don Lavoie). The paper also considers other contributors to the Socialist Calculation Debate, such as Oskar Lange.

“Socialist Planning after the Collapse of the Soviet Union”, by Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott, published in Revue Europeene des Sciences Sociales, 1993. We make the argument that what failed in the USSR was not socialist planning as such, but a particular and definitely flawed variant of same, and suggest the outlines of an alternative system of planning. The paper is complementary to our 1993 book, “Towards a New Socialism.”

Realisation Crises and the Polarisation of Capital:cse-02-93 pdf version


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