[OPE-L:3954] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The TransformationProblem

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Wed Oct 04 2000 - 18:11:53 EDT

On Wed, 4 Oct 2000, Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU) wrote:

> As I noted to Paul C soon after you cut me off here, then
> how do you make sense of the chapter on the production of
> relative surplus value which is nothing but a study of the
> implications of the declining unit value of wage goods,
> thereby allowing a rising rate of exploitation. If this is
> not an analysis in terms of a dynamic definition of
> value--that is, in terms of a continuous decline in the
> socially necessary labor time needed to reproduce wage
> goods--then what would be?

Look at the first page of Chapter 12.  Look at the little
schematic diagram Marx uses to talk about the necessary labour
time versus the surplus.  He says, Consider a shortening of the
necessary labour time from AB to AB':  What are the
consequences?  Fine, he gives a good answer.  This is
comparative statics.  A dynamic analysis of the same issue would
ask: what are the consequences if 

  d(necessary labour time)/dt < 0 ?

I.e. what are the consequences for the time-derivatives of other
variables of interest?

Further on in the chapter we also have an analysis that runs in
terms of discrete changes.  "Now let some capitalist contrive to
double the productivity of labour...".  And so on.

Marx is certainly talking about change.  He's not doing dynamics
as such.

On the matter that came up earlier:

> Let me make a simple logical point--that the inputs have to
> be transformed into prices of production (remember we do
> agree on this)  does not mean that they have to be
> transformed into the same set of prices of production as the
> outputs.

But Marx is talking (we're now looking at vol. 3, ch. 9) about a
hypothetical equilibrium state in which the rate of profit is
equalized for all capitals.  There's simply no (temporal) change
going on in the main argument of this chapter.  We're comparing
state A (profit for each capital = surplus value generated by
that capital) and state B (all capitals get the same rate of
profit).  Marx wants to say something about the relationship
between these states.  To get at the essence he's ready to
entertain strong simplifying assumptions (first page of the
chapter).  Dynamic stuff is off the agenda for the moment.  
When we get past the main transformation argument we get a whiff
of dynamics: "In spite of the great changes occurring
continually, as we shall see, in the actual rates of profit
within the individual spheres of production..."  Note: "as we
shall see": this will come later, it's not germane to the
transformation argument as such.

In the given theoretical context, then, a difference between
input and output prices for a given commodity can only be a
symptom of an incomplete analysis.  It has nothing to do with
dynamics, because no dynamics have been posited or specified.  
What is it that is supposed to be "changing" that accounts for
any such difference?  The only thing that is "changing" is the
distribution of profit (surplus value) between capitals, but
that is not a change _in time_, it's an atemporal hypothetical
comparison.  If this problem were to be analysed dynamically,
one would have to specify a _process_ of equalization
(presumably involving the movement of capital between sectors).  
Marx does no such thing here.  He says, let's suppose the
equalization is somehow achieved, then what?  


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