[OPE-L:3924] Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Sun Oct 01 2000 - 09:41:40 EDT

On Sun, 1 Oct 2000, Ajit Sinha wrote:

> Gil Skillman wrote:
> > I'm writing in response to a much earlier post from Fred on this topic.
> >
> > Fred writes:
> > >
> > >..... Marx's labor theory of value, as I
> > >understand it, assumes that, in a given period of time in the real
> > >capitalist economy, each hour of average social labor produces a certain
> > >amount (say, m) of money new-value (or money value added).  Even though we
> > >don't know what m is (i.e. we can't observe m), and even though we cannot
> > >explain what determines m, the theory assumes nonetheless there is an
> > >actual, unique m in the real capitalist economy.  And it is this actual,
> > >unique m that is taken as given in the determination of the total
> > >new-value produced in this period.
> >
> > The measure m is real enough, but its existence does not in any way depend
> > on the assertion of a labor theory of value.
> > For example, in the NI understanding of m discussed below, m is equivalent
> > to what neoclassicists would immediately recognize as the average product
> > of labor--in this case, the average *net* product of "socially necessary"
> > labor.  But since Marx defines "socially necessary" labor in terms of
> > averages in any case, the latter condition doesn't add any bite.
> >
> > >>As Duncan has argued in (3761) (and elsewhere), the unique value of m in a
> > >given period must be equal to NV / L, i.e. to the ratio of the money
> > >new-value produced in this period to the average social labor performed
> > >during this period.
> >
> > Rather, m is *defined* as NV/L.  The labor theory of value itself doesn't
> > demand that this ratio be defined at all; we could instead follow Marx's
> > explicit lead in defining commodity values in terms of embodied labor time.
> > Then we could determine directly the average labor value of aggregate net
> > product, and not bring in prices at all. And the measure NV/L is only
> > "unique" if one can agree on how the net product vector mentioned by Fred
> > is valued--by labor values?  current prices?  inflation-adjusted prices,
> > relative to some base?  Sraffian prices of production?  Neoclassical
> > competitive prices?
> >
> > >  This does not mean that m is determined by NV / L.
> > >It only means that m has this unique value.  We don't know what
> > >determines m.
> >
> > Rather, m is "determined" by NV/L, but we don't know by this what
> > determines NV and L.
> >
> > >But whatever determines m, and whatever the value of m, if
> > >it is assumed that NV = m L, then m must be equal to NV / L, and cannot by
> > >assumption be equal to anything else.
> >
> > That's right:  it's equal by assumption, i.e. a tautology.
> ____________________
> Actually, in Fred's case it is not a tautology. It is a case of trying to
> determine two unknowns with one equation. In his case, both NV and m are 
> unknowns, only L is known.

Not true, Ajit.  As I have argued in recent posts, Marx's theory assumes
that there is an actual m in the economy, with a definite
magnitude; i.e. that each hour of abstract labor produces a definite
quantity m of money new-value.  It is this actual m, with a definite
magnitude, that is taken as given in Marx's theory of new-value and
surplus-value.  m is not an unknown.  m is taken as given.  There is only
one unknown, NV, which is determined by the mL.


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