[OPE-L:3547] Re: money-capital as initial givens

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jun 29 2000 - 07:23:37 EDT

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At 15:05 27/06/00 -0400, you wrote:

Fred, I agree with your gloss on the role of Money capital as
a starting point in Marx's analysis of the transformation problem.
There is no doubt that he formulated it in terms of an initial
sum of money capital.

The point for me is whether this was a legitimate procedure when
analysing the interellaions between values and prices of production
in the economy as a whole.

There is a significant difference between the analytical framework
used by Sraffa, Morishima etc on the one hand and Marx and Ricardo
on the other.

The 19th century authors looked at individual branches of production
without taking into account their mutual interactions. In chapter 9 of vol
3 of capital Marx the table used by marx are not reproduction schemes
or input output tables. They are simply separate branches of production
examined in monetary terms.

The 20th century authors like Sraffa take as their starting point
input/output tables, themselves a derivation from Marx's reproduction

This is a quite different problematic.

The problematic of profit rate equalisation in vol 3 chap 9 is still that
of Ricardo, of different individual capitals earning the same rate
of return on capital without the position of these capitals within
the overall reproduction process being elaborated.

To that extent, the problematic which starts with a given sum of
money capital is still to some extent tainted with the partial and ideological
viewpoint of the individual capitalist. To them it does appear that
they start out with a given sum of money. But from the viewpoint
of society as a whole, in its reproduction relations, this makes no
sense at all. There is no initial sum of social capital in money form
which then gets transformed into means of production. Instead,
there is a continuous process of production, constrained by the
really existing stocks of means of production, existing simultaneously
with an ownership structure.

 From the standpoint of the individual capitalists things do appear
to start out with a sum of money. But what we have to understand
is the hidden constraints imposed by the interaction of different
branches of production.

The historical advance in economic theory represented by the
Sraffian type of analysis was only possible because of the real
transcendence of capitalism in the USSR and the associated
development of I/O table based analysis. It was this that enabled
later marxist economists to escape from the limited viewpoint of
the individual capitalist, which Marx, at times still retains.

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