[OPE-L:4204] Re: Part Two of Volume III of Capital

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2000 - 16:43:22 EDT

On Sat, 21 Oct 2000, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> Re Steve's 4189
> >A more technical statement of my frustration with your approach is that you
> >appeal to a system which, if stated in the form of dynamic equations, would
> >have more unknowns than equations.

I agree with Steve: the problem I have with your mode of
argument is not that you're dodging empirical refutation, but
that you're dodging theoretical refutation, by introducing
complicating assumptions as the argument goes along so that your
opponent (e.g. me) is unable to pin you down to any particular
proposition and is eventually forced to give up.

As regards the transformation, I have this diagnosis.  One
coherent view of the issue is that stemming from Bortkiewicz.  
There is a clear argument showing that Marx's two equalities
cannot both be sustained.  This argument is usually developed in
relation to a simple tableau showing simple reproduction.  Now
it would be weird and wonderful if one could show that while
Marx's two equalities don't hold in *that* case, they
nonetheless *do* hold in the case of extended reproduction with
ongoing technical change.  I don't believe you've shown anything
of the sort.  You've just complexified the example to the point
where we lose track of the original situation we're trying to
transform, then "anything goes".

There is, however, an alternative view on which Marx's two
equalities do hold (regardless of dynamics and all that).  This
is the view Andrew and Alan Freeman defend.  It requires that we
conceive of the "value transferred to the product by the means
of production" not in the "standard" way, as the socially
necessary labour-time required to produce the means of
production, but rather as the price of the means of production
divided by the economy-wide MELT.  (I think this claim
fundamentally breaks the labour theory of value and I can't
accept it.)

If you take this view, it simply doesn't matter whether the
means of production are assumed to be priced "at their values"
in the initial transformation tableau, or at prices of
production, or at arbitrary market prices.  Marx's single-step
transformation needs no further adjustment because the value
transferred by the means of production is itself a function of
the prices of those means of production.

I think you have to choose.  You've said several times that some
further adjustment is called for due to the fact that Marx's
inputs are assumed to be priced at value, but you refuse to
follow out the logic of that admission.  Well then, consider the

Allin Cottrell.

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