[OPE-L:4213] Re: Re: Re: Part Two of Volume III of Capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2000 - 18:44:37 EDT

Duncan writes:
In reply to Rakesh's comments:

I think the Classical long-period concept of natural price does allow 
for the natural price to change gradually, probably most often as a 
result of changes in labor productivity (though that's not the only 
possible reason). 
But Marx's point is that all shorter term changes in prices of production
should be attributed to changes in the value of the commodities themselves.
I did cite evidence--was it pg. 266 of Capital 3 Vintage? Smith and Ricardo
are writing at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Ever since Poverty of
Philosophy, Marx has worked more from Babbage and Ure than Smith and
Ricardo in understanding the dynamic changes wrought by industrialization. 
He realizes that there is now a permanent tendency for unit values to drop,
not just over the long term. He begins Capital with recognition of the
inverse movement of use value and unit value. I highly recommend
Grossmann's dynamics book. 
Duncan writes:
It's also plausible to suppose that the average 
rate of profit evolves on an even broader time scale, since some of 
the fluctuations in natural prices across sectors will cancel out.
I reply:
Yes that's Marx's point. I have already cited his saying this in 2 places.
Duncan writes:
I think the difficulty in interpreting Marx's transformation tableaux 
is to situate them in the Classical long-period theory of competition 
and the emergence of natural prices (or prices of production).
I reply:
There are natural prices for each, single period but no long term natural
prices. There is no reason to assume that there are the same prices of
production at the beginning as the end of the period. For this kind of
interperiodic or shorter term change, Marx says we should assume prima
facies that change is resulting from changes in the values of the
commodities themselves, not changes in the average rate of profit. 
Duncan writes:
they were supposed to be a literal representation of the temporal 
evolution of market prices why wouldn't they fall victim to Marx's 
general argument that the laws of capitalist production only emerge 
as the average of ceaseless fluctuations? To put this in another way, 
why should the profit rate be exactly equalized across sectors in 
each period?
I reply:
Marx argues that market prices will fluctuate around these periodic prices
of production. So they are not a literal representation of market prices
but prices that in each period would have allowed the average rate of
profit for each capital. These prices especially in unit terms are
continously changing as well. How could it be otherwise with the ceaseless
attempts to increase labor productivity by rival capitalists?

All the best, Rakesh

Maybe I missed the post in which you included the "textual evidence" 
that convinced you that my general interpretation of Marx as a 
long-periodist was off the mark.


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