[OPE-L:3818] Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: clyder (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Sep 14 2000 - 06:08:43 EDT

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 Fred writes
> Ajit, you continue to misunderstand Marx's theory. In Marx's theory,
> there is ONLY ONE m for the whole economy. m in Marx's theory is the
> quantity of money new-value produced per hour of ABSTRACT labor. An hour
> of abstract labor (i.e average social labor) in any industry is assumed to
> produce the SAME AMOUNT of money new-value as an hour of abstract labor in
> any other industry. THAT IS THE NATURE OF ABSTRACT LABOR. The fact that
> there are "many m's" in the standard interpretation is itself unmistakable
> proof that this is a misinterpretation of Marx's theory. In Marx's
> theory, abstract labor in different industries does not produce different
> amounts of money new-value, but rather the same amount. In the standard
> interpretation of Marx's theory, on the other hand, there is no abstract
> labor; there are only different concrete labors, with different mi's.

Whose 'standard interpretation' do you mean. Could you please cite the
authorities who take this position. I can not recall any formalism which
had multiple values for the money commodity.

> Ajit criticizes "my theory" (which I insist is an interpretation of
> theory) because it does not fully explain the determination of
> m. However, if Marx's theory is weak, COMPARED TO WHAT? Sraffian theory
> cannot even explain money, period; i.e. it can not explain the necessity
> of money, why money must exist in a commodity-producing economy.

I think that you do an injustice to Sraffa. The fact that the 'Production of
does not go into why money is necessary in a commodity producing economy
does not mean either that Sraffa had no theory of this himself, nor that he
would necessarily disagree with Marx's account. His book is extremely
and is concerned with analysing the conditions of existence of reproduction
prices under the assumption of a uniform rate of profit. It is not intended
to be an essay on monetary theory.

I think that a lot of the dispute between you and Ajit relates to levels of

You are working at a level of abstraction that corresponds to monetary
aggregates for variable and constant capital. This was the level that Marx
at in his analysis of the transformation problem. This is an appropriate
of abstraction for dealing with the first order correction terms that would
introduced to 'natural prices' by the assumption of an equal rate of profit
accross industries. However to deal with second order effects which might
cause natural prices to deviate from embodied labour content as a result
of first order deviations in their input prices, you need the more detailed
apparattus of input output analysis.

Fred does not produce a critique of Sraffa merely by saying that this was
not the apparattus that Marx used. I think it is a fair historical point to
but the fact that Marx used a more abstract theory does not itself provide
a critique of a more recent and more concrete theory.

Ok, Marx's theory was less concrete, but that is no reason to prefer it to
Sraffa's theory, nor does it rebut the arguments of the redundancy of the
labour theory of value advanced by Steadman, Hodgson etc on the basis
of the Sraffian theory.

> Marx did not calculate m (or the value of gold) from given physical
> inputs. Marx simply took the value of gold as GIVEN, as I quoted in my
> last post from C.I: 314. You are going round and round only because you
> refuse to admit that Marx had a fundamentally different logical method
> from Sraffa.

He did not explictly calculate it from the physical inputs, since he did
not have the data, but I understood him to hold that its value was
by conditions of production in the gold mining industries, and that its
value varies as the physical conditions of production change.


Paul Cockshott

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