[OPE-L:3556] Postscript to 3555

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 17:19:36 EDT

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In sum: Marx's "solution" to the transformation problem in Ch. 9 of Volume
3 presumes a world in which phenomena derived from the world of capitalist
price competition (i.e., constant and variable capital understood as cost
prices) and exposed to a process of capitalist price competition that
results in equalization of rates of exploitation, somehow result in
outcomes that are *not* expressed in the world of capitalist prices--that
is, "values," understood as distinct from "prices of production."

*But there is no such world.*

If, as Marx (and Fred) insist, constant and variable capital appear in Ch.
9 in their competition-determined price-form, and capitalist competition is
understood to equalize the rate of exploitation or something like it, than
the outcome of this process can be none other than capitalist prices of
production. There is no limbo-capitalism in which competition acts on
"values" but not on "prices of production." But as a result, Marx's
conclusion in Ch. 9 is either contradictory--because it requires equal
sectoral compositions of capital, the opposite of what he assumes--or
simply irrelevant, because it depends on a mythical, alternative-universe
process of "value"-generation.

In the history of Marxian thought there have been some variations on the
basic error--for example, if one *doesn't* take the expressions of constant
and and variable capital in the first table as cost-prices--but the error
remains (in the latter case, because there is no reason to think that
processes of capitalist operation on *anything other* than prices, cost- or


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