[OPE-L:3619] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: constant capital and variable capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Tue Aug 08 2000 - 10:13:09 EDT

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>To put it another way: I grant that workers receive a money wage that they
>spend as they wish. Capitalists also choose production techniques as they
>wish based on relative prices. None of this has anything to do with labor
>values, which are thus at best superfluous.

In the transformation tableux, Marx is not concerned with the value of
labor power per se but with the magnitude of the variable capital that must
be invested in order to secure workers at the going wage, that monetary sum
then being coupled with the price of the means of production to determine
cost price of the commodity.

Marx takes as determined from the previous period what the money price of
wage goods will be and thus the sum a capitalist has to lay out as variable

However, we can arbitarily change the quantity of money invested as
variable capital or the rate of exploitation, and it does not change the
logic of the transformation.

>You left out two key qualifying phrases: *simple* tautology, based on
>*otherwise arbitrary* assumptions. In other words, the *only* reason for
>invoking the conditions I identified is to ensure the desired aggregate
>equalities. Nothing intrinsic about the nature of labor values ensures this.

I am not a defender of the NI because I don't understand it beyond what's
in Duncan's Understanding Capital. I think the real arbitrary assumption is
that input unit prices=output unit prices. Once we dispense with this
assumption--and what is its justification--then there is nothing arbitrary
about Marx's price theory. There is indeed a certain tautology in the way
he theorizes the relationship between prices and values, but this seems to
me intrinsic to conceptual development.

>Perhaps plausible but certainly not necessary, so no absurdity is being
>insisted on. Since labor values are epiphenomenal at best, though, it's
>hard to see where the absurdity lies. What happens to labor values is not
>demonstrably relevant to the coherence of capitalist reality.

Again what happens to labor values explains the incoherence of capitalist
reality, i.e., the crisis tendency and the catastrophes of the capitalist

Yours, Rakesh

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