[OPE-L:3482] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: measurement of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Sun Jun 11 2000 - 11:25:10 EDT

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The question is about inventories, and as I understand it more specifically
the point at which they *acquire* value.
>This makes no sense. Check out Ricardo's Principles page 12 (Sraffa's
>edition). The
>whole of classical economics is clear about what they understand about

So this delimitation of the category of commodity, which I agree that Marx
accepts upon initial analysis, does not answer the specific question. I am
saying that if we don't pinpoint successful market exchange as the point
that goods acquire value, then not only would we have to consider
inventories as already having acquired value but also (and why not?)
production that is not even intended to be sold on the market (say the govt
using tax money to hire workers in a transportation dept to build
roads--have these roads too acquired value?)

 Market exchange is the source of value.

"whenever by an exchange we equate as values our different products, by
that very act, we also equate as human labor the different kinds of labor
expended on them."

 As I see it, your problem is misunderstanding of concepts. At one
>level classical political economy, including Marx, distinguish between
>among broad
>category of production as commodity and non-commodity. Once the commodities are
>classified, then one does not look at every unit of those commodities and ask
>whether it is a commodity or not.

Marx's argument against Ricardo is that the commodity does not acquire its
peculiar properties (and what do you think they are?) in virtue of the
quantity of their labor "matter" but rather as a result of THEIR FORM. This
is a simple Aristotlean distinction of causes, and undergirds Marx's
critique of the classical labor theory of value.

  According to Marx, Ricardo not only failed grasp what exactly was
puzzling about commodities, he did not trace the mysteries to the commodity
form which is generally imposed on products of labor in a fully developed
capitalist society. And he could not do this because he took the commodity
form to be as natural as production itself.

If we are going to make any sense of what is Marx is saying, these are the
questions we have to answer on the basis of what Marx wrote, not what
putatively survives in Marx after Sraffa

a. what for Marx are the mysterious attributes of commodities?
b. why do they derive from FORM, not any other potential Aristotlean cause
(matter, material or final)?

The conceptual apparatus of you and your neo Ricardian friends simply makes
no room for formal causality--consequently the understanding of Marx on his
own terms is quite poor--and as Scott Meikle has pointed out, Marx did not
work simply in a denuded bourgeois scientific world view which recognizes
*only* efficient causality--for example as Ernst Mayr has argued, the
discovery of DNA seems to vindicate Aristotle's theory of formal causality
(for this to be true, we need not think of DNA as the same kind of formal
cause as a blueprint for an architect but simply as a recipe for a cook, as
Mayr, Enrico Coen and other biologists do).

 This matter is dealt with by separating the
>concepts of market price and the natural prices (or the prices of
>production). it
>does not afferc the concept of value or the measure of it.

Well the question of production price depends on how the average rate of
profit is actually determined? Through linear equations which can be solved
simultaneously once the real wage is given? Or through Fred's
reconstruction of Marx's monetary-macro method?

You need to ask one
>question to yourself, and may be your Hegelian friends, does Marx have a
>theory of

As Mario Cogoy long ago pointed out, "demand in a capitalist society can
have no other origin than capital accumulation. Accumulation incluces not
only the demand for the means of production butalso demand for cosnumer
goods, since the latter is nothing more htan a result of the sale of labor
power and has its origin in the reproduction and accumulation of variable
capital. To say that profit is determined by the scale of consumption is to
set the problem on its head; under capitalism consumption depends on profit
and not profit on consumption. Since demand can only arise from capital
expansion, it is always constituted by constant and variable capital."
International Journal of Political Economy, vol 17, no2 (1987)

Yours, Rakesh

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