Wallyver raises a question about the seeming parallel between my remarks about index numbers and my discussion of accounting problems in Part Three of my paper, THE FUTURE OF SOCIALISM. First of all, let me say that until he asked this question, the parallel had never occurred to me. It is very interesting.
My point about index numbers was this: because there is no solution to the index number problem -- i.e., no objective, ideology-neutral way to form such measures of social reality -- every effort to grasp conceptually the nature of social reality is unavoidably ideological. This reveals a deeper truth, which is that social reality itself is ungetoverably normatively structured, embodying [in a way that physical reality does not] a perspective or point of view or normative dimension, or indeed more probably several that are in conflict with one another. From this insight, I draw the conclusion that a value-free social science is impossible [and that includes economists as well as sociologists and political scientists, of course].
The point about the accounting discussion is different, but in many ways strikingly similar. Because there is no objective "scientific" solution to the accounting problem once capitalism develops beyond its most primitive stages, supposedly objective decisions concerning profitability in a firm inevitably turn into quasi-political decisions or negotiations among the interested parties. This, I suggest, is part of the process anticipated by Marx by which the new social relations -- of socialism -- grow in the womb of the old capitalist order. If I am correct, then profit-maximizing capitalists have no choice but to engage more and more in decision making whose structure is political rather than, in the old sense, economic, and this fact robs the defenders of capitalism of their strongest argument, which is [pace Hayek] that market-driven decisions are necessarily the most efficient. The problem is not that they are less efficient, but that they are impossible. [By the way, for those who are really into this sort of thing, this is exactly the criticism that Oakeshott has of rationalism in politics, namely that it is impossible, not bad.]
Does that clarify things a bit?