[OPE-L:3622] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: constant capital and variable capital

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Tue Aug 08 2000 - 12:28:24 EDT

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In response to my comment
>>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.

, Rakesh writes

>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.

This does not address my point, which is that the transformation is
irrelevant because values, or more specifically the micro- or macro-
connection between prices and values, is utterly superfluous to
understanding capitalist reality.

>>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.

Again, I don't see how this addresses my point. The issue isn't the
"arbitrariness" of Marx's price theory, it's whether the putative
connections between prices and values have any significance for
understanding capitalist reality. I'm arguing that they don't.

>>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

But, again, you do not need labor values to account for capitalist
incoherence or crisis tendencies. Indeed, labor values are necessarily
superfluous at best, because they are epiphenomenal.


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