Episode 20: Cockshott versus Marx––Interview with “RV”

Scottish computer scientist Paul Cockshott and his devotees have frequently portrayed Marx as a proponent of their own “labor theory of value.” But a recent essay by “RV,” a young Belgian activist and theorist, has exposed sharp differences between Cockshott’s theory and Marx’s actual theory. In this interview, RV explains to the co-hosts what the differences are, why they are important, and what impelled him to push back against the efforts to “force Marx, at all costs, to hold” Cockshott’s theory. They also discuss RV’s suggestion that we should let these two different theories contend, to “see which one better stands the test of reality,” how Cockshott is likely to respond to this suggestion, and why RV rejects the “empirical evidence” that supposedly supports Cockshott’s theory.

In the current-events segment, the co-hosts discuss the calls to “defund the police” and proposals to reform policing in the US. Can policing indeed be reformed? If so, what reforms are possible?

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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June 19, 2020

1 Comment

  1. Great discussion, thank you. And very helpful to a non-specialist like me trying to pick his way through these issues. I have a theoretical question, rather tangential to the main focus of the discussion, but one that’s perplexing me. I appreciate that a scientific theory is justified by testing its predictions rather than its assumptions. However, my understanding is that the role of a scientific theory is not just to predict but also to explain. If a theory’s assumptions are known to be wrong, then surely even if it is capable of making confirmable predictions, that fact must throw some doubt on its capacity to accurately explain them. (Incidentally, the assumptions of quantum mechanics are surely not wrong as RV suggested, but untestable within their own domain?) Am I missing something here?

    I discovered the podcasts by chance a couple of weeks ago, and have been working my way through them since. Really informative and good listening. Thanks again to you both.

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