[OPE-L:3138] Re: Re: Re: re:starting points

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 07:02:16 EDT

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At 13:41 12/05/00 +0530, you wrote:

>Paul Cockshott wrote:
> > On the one hand I use the word as a shorthand for the phrase labour value,
> > meaning
> > the labour time required to produce something.
>________________I take it that you mean direct and indirect simple labor time.
>This I think is what Marx's concept of value boils down to, and has
>potential of
>going some distance. All other definitions flounder after a step or two.


> > On the other hand I use the word as a shorthand for something like
> generalised
> > exchange value. By generalised exchange value I mean what is conserved
> under
> > changes in the numeraire or standard of price used to express exchange
> value.
>I guess you mean something like "natural prices" of classical economists. Of
>course, they used value interchangebly for this concept.

I dont quite mean natural prices here - natural prices has the concept of long
run equilibrium around which market prices oscillate. I am using the concept
here in a more abstract a-temporal sense of the generalisation of exchange
value as one systematically abstracts over the numeraire - the price
vector that is conserved subject to scaling by the numeraire.

Now this price vector will itself be a function of time, and in addition there
is empirically noise in the vector as even on a single day a kilo of bread
will sell for different prices in different shops etc. The classical concept
of natural price abstracts over both these kinds of variation.

Conceptually the concept of generalised exhange value and labour value
are obviously quite distinct. They share however the same mathematical
structure so the possibility is there that one causes the other. But all sorts
of other things also share this structure - the amount of iron directly and
indirectly necessary to make a commodity for example.

It is an empirical observation that it is labour content rather than iron
that determines prices not a conceptual identity.

>How to relate the two
>concepts (i.e. Marx's and the classicals) is, of course, part of the
>transformation problem. You think that impirically the two concepts are close
>enough, so why bother--am I right? Cheers, ajit sinha

I think that natural price and labour values are empirically sufficiently
close as to allow one to treat them as the same for most analyses.
The whole debate on tranformation lacks concern over sensitivity
analysis ( David Ricardo and Anwar Shaik excepted).
It also takes as a given, what is actually an unproven hypothesis,
that rates of profit are statistically independent of organic compositions
in different industries. I regard this as a very questionable assumption.

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