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Afterthoughts on posts I've already sent in the "starting point" discussion
with Fred, Rakesh, and Alfredo:
1) One way of summarizing my just-sent response to Rakesh is that the
seeming conundrums he raises (e.g, how can capitalists make a profit if
competitive pressures set the price of machines or slaves) are only
problematic if one assumes what must be proven, i.e. that the bourgeois
notion of competitive market equilibrium has some systematic connection to
the case in which commodities exchange at their respective values. But it
doesn't. Once that is accepted, the conundrums vanish.
2) A followup on the discussion with Fred: In case there were any doubt
that Marx saw the condition of price-value equivalence as essential to his
story about the connection between capitalist exploitation and capitalist
production (so that it wasn't simply a matter of focusing on capitalist
production because that's what he'd assumed in the first place), Marx
utters the following in _Value, Price, and Profit_ to dispel all doubt:
"To explain therefore, the *general nature of profits*, you must start from
the theorem that, on an average, commodities are sold at their real values
and that profits are derived from selling them at their values, that is, in
proportion to the quantity of labour realised in them. If you cannot
explain profit upon this supposition, *you cannot explain it at all.*"
It is evident, then, that Marx took price-value equivalence as central to
the story he wanted to tell about the logic of capitalist exploitation.
This suggests that critiquing Marx's account of the analytical significance
of price-value equivalence, as I do, is necessarily relevant to Marx's
story as he understood it, and thus my critique cannot be evaded simply by
positing that Marx was concerned with capitalist production from the get-go
in Volume I.
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