[OPE-L:3900] Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Fri Sep 29 2000 - 02:36:11 EDT

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Fred B. Moseley wrote:

> Ajit has argued, and Gil seems to agree, that "m must be known" in order
> for my interpretation of Marx's theory to be a theory at all. In other
> words, if m is not known, then my interpretation is not a theory of
> It is not clear to me exactly what is meant by "m must be known". Known
> as an empirical magnitude or determined theoretically, or both?
> I have argued that it is not necessary to "know m" in either of these two
> senses in order to have a determinant theory of surplus-value and many
> other important phenomena in capitalist economies.
> I have argued that Marx's labor theory of value assumes that THERE IS AN
> ACTUAL M in the economy, i.e. that each hour of abstract labor does indeed
> produce a quantity m of money new-value. It is this actual m, that is
> assumed to exist, that is TAKEN AS GIVEN in Marx's theory of
> surplus-value.
> Even though we don't know empirically what this m is (and in principle we
> cannot know it empirically because abstract labor is unobservable), and
> even though we cannot provide a full theory of the determination of m,
> Marx's theory still assumes that an actual m exists, and it this actual m,
> whatever it is, that is taken as given in the theory of surplus-value.
> This is a perfectly legitimate and valid logical method - to take some
> variables as given and then to determine other variables on the basis of
> these given variables. In this case, to take the actual m (and other
> variables) as given, and then to determine money new-value and money
> surplus-value on the basis of these givens. Ajit (and Gil), what is wrong
> with this logical method?


Fred, there are several things wrong with it. First of all, the determination
of what you call the "m" is the central problem with Marx's transformation
problem. That's why assuming that the value of m is "given" can never be taken
as a solution to the problem, and particularly when it is added that not only
the real m is unknown but is unknowable. This simply confirms the Steedman

Secondly, when a theory takes something as given, it either must take it as
empirically observable in principle or must have a sense that that variable is
determined in a theoretical space that lie outside the scope of the particular
theory. But your "m" is simply unknowable, though all your other quantitative
variables depend upon its value. And this is not legitimate by the standard of
any theory I know of.

> Fred:
> This given m does leave an element of incompleteness to the theory. But
> all theories are incomplete to some extent. All theories take some
> variables as given in order to determine other variables. And, as I have
> argued, this particular incompleteness does not affect the major
> conclusions of Marx's theory. If m changes, then all the monetary
> variables change proportionally, so that the ratios among these monetary
> magnitudes remain the same.


Your statement that "If m changes, then all the monetary
variables change proportionally, so that the ratios among these monetary
magnitudes remain the same." is not correct has been proven by me repeatedly
mathematically, as well as by Gil and Paul C. All you have to do is to check
your own equations and you will know that this claim of yours is falls.

> Fred:

> In addition, other conclusions that do not
> have to do with quantitative magnitudes, but rather with important
> qualitative phenomena of capitalist economies (e.g. conflicts over the
> working day and the intensity of labor, inherent technological change,
> etc.) also do not require a theory of the determination of m.


These issues are not under dispute. Our debate is about your interpretation of
Marx's transformation problem. And as you yourself now accept that these
broader issues simply do not depend upon your 'monetary interpretation', you
have yet again confirmed Steedman critique.

> Fred:
> So the lack of determination of m is no big deal. It certainly does not
> mean that Marx's theory becomes a "theory of nothing". Rather, it is a
> theory of a whole lot of important phenomena, even though m is taken as
> given.


It is a big deal for your theory. Without it your theory is a theory of
nothing. Of course, it is not a big deal for mine or even Srrafian
interpretations of Marx. But for your interpretation, there is no way out.
Cheers, ajit sinha

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