[OPE-L:3623] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: constant capital and variable capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Date: Tue Aug 08 2000 - 13:15:17 EDT

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Hi Gil, I'll try to answer both your last two posts here.

> His project is to show that capitalism is premised on the exploitation of
> labor, and that its development implies tendentially increasing the degree
> of exploitation of labor.

Doesn't Marx's theory or critique of political economy arise out of the
inabilities of the left Ricardians to explain the crisis conditions out of
which the workers' movement emerged? Isn't Marx's point that capital's
crisis tendency cannot be explained by a squeeze on profits resulting from
an attentuation in the rate of exploitation?

> Let me put the same point in the form of a question. Suppose you were
> somehow convinced that claims (2) - (4) were indeed wrong, but accepted the
> validity of claim (1), which asserts the equivalence of positive profit,
> positive surplus value, and exploitation of labor, without asserting any
> particular micro- or macro-association between labor values and prices.
> Would you then think Marx had failed? Would you stop being a Marxist?

Gil, I think you are missing my point about the macro association. It
follows tautologously from Marx's labor theory of value that the average
rate of profit and production prices will be determined as he lays out.

This theory as conceptually developed must then be free of 1. logical
contradiction (which is what this whole mess about transforming the inputs
is about).

2. explanatorily powerful (though of course one must explore the nature of
the bridge between a necessarily idealized scientific theory and the
reality it purports to explain--so we will have to study Leswak Nowak,
Derek Sayer and others).

It follows from the way Marx defines the relationship between value and
prices that the price system will provide microfoundations for the kind of
on-going technical change that should drain the system as a whole of the
mass of surplus value needed for further accumulation, which will then
call forth several counter-tendencies whose effect should weaken over

Marx is not trying to prove that prices are determined by values. He is
arguing that if indeed they are determined as he lays out, then
capitalist development should follow the crisis-ridden course he predicts
(as Postone notes, Marx's initial derivation of abstract labor as the
common substance is retroactively validated by the ability of theory
based on it to account for capital's developmental tendencies).

Marx is also trying to explain why though the law of value is
explanatorily powerful, its workings are obscured by capitalist reality
and thus denied. Ricardo could not account for this phenomena-explanatory
mechanism divergence due to his forced abstractions, etc.

All the best, Rakesh

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