[OPE-L:4605] Re: reply to Fred (1)

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Mon Dec 04 2000 - 14:59:37 EST

Hi Rakesh,

Well, first I think it is very important that (as you agree) your 
original statement was incorrect. This was a very strong statement 
regarding SV, viz that, in your original words (and case), the 
assumption of exchange 'EXACTLY' at value is necessary to 
ensure that the only source of SV is labour power / labour. 
(Important simply because the road to a rejection of Marx's theory 
of SV is a short one if your statement were to be accepted, and 
Marx explicitly denies your statement).

'Postulating' exchange at value in volume one certainly does make 
life easier for Marx. But he is, from ch 6, through volume 1, looking 
at only the abstract and general features common to all industrial 
capitals, so he cannot introduce price / value deviations that are 
due to systematic differences between capitals (different OCCs for 
instance). Indeed, without these distinctions he has no basis to 
assume anything other than price / value equivalence. Also chs 1-6 
have established that with or without this assumption surplus 
labour is the sole source of SV. 

Moreover, it is worth stressing that the very fact of the immediate 
qualitative difference (opposition indeed) of value and price, coupled 
with the fact that the former can only have form as the latter, 
indicates that, on the introduction of more concrete (ie. particular 
and individual) considerations, it is *likely* that there will be price-
value divergence. (This is Marx's point against Ricardo as well 
expresed in Ilyenkov and Pilling - see also Patrick Murray).

So it is not a 'stipulation', in the sense of a constraint imposed from 
without upon the object, because Marx is not constraining anything 
one way or the other. Instead he is paying close attention to the 
level of abstraction (of particularity and individuality) that he is 
working at, as he develops his grasp of the object. Thus Marx does 
not impose assumptions in order to make his life easy, or to 'ease' 
results. Rather, he explores in full the object in a systematic 
fashion, beginning with the most abstract and general level and 
developing particularity and individuality step by step from this 
abstract point. This procedure is imposed upon Marx by the nature 
of the object. It is not the other way around. These latter remarks 
apply to your questions re other complex stuff, eg foreign trade.

Many thanks,


On 4 Dec 2000, at 9:26, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> re 4601
> >On 2 Dec 2000, at 23:12, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:
> >
> >>  Again, this cannot be. Marx cannot simply take C and V as given. You have
> >>  simply missed my argument here!  Marx has to stipulate that the input
> >>  means of production and means of subsistence are bought at prices EXACTLY
> >>  proportional to their full value. Only this way can he ensure that the
> >>  only source of surplus value is the consumption of labor power (if
> >>  leather sells below value, the surplus value embodied in boots could be
> >>  due to the self valorization of the leather, not the exploitation of the
> >>  proletariat); correlatively, only by stipulating exchange at value can he
> >>  ensure that live labor does indeed produce surplus value (if the prices of
> >>  leather or awls are taken as given and happen to sell above value, dM
> >>  could be swallowed up by M).
> >
> >Hi Rakesh,
> >
> >All these 'stipulations' seem a million miles from Marx to me. At
> >any rate, your interpretation flatly contradicts the Marx's discussion
> >in ch. 5 and ch 6, vol 1 of CAPITAL, where Marx goes on at length
> >that he need not assume price=value and where he claims to
> >establish that SV has its only source in labour power / labour.
> >
> >Thanks,
> >
> >Andy
> Andy (B), you are right about this. Marx certainly says that whether 
> exchange is of equivalents or not, exchange itself cannot yield 
> surplus value (which brings us back to the Roemer-Skillman critique). 
> But Marx does then say that he takes as his starting point the 
> exchange of equivalents (capital 1, p. 268, vintage).  He does say 
> that throughout vol 1, he is assuming that prices = values (p. 329). 
> And he does stipulate that labor power, like all other commodities, 
> always sell at its full value (p. 431); postulating this rule in his 
> gedankenexperiment of of the exchange of labor power always at its 
> full value gives capitalists little option but the production of 
> relative surplus value. That is, postulating the rule of exchange at 
> full value eases the logical transition from absolute to relative 
> surplus value.
> Are you denying that in vol 1 that Marx does stipulate that that 
> there is no foreign trade or relation with non capitalist modes, that 
> the value of money is constant, that there are only two classes? Do 
> you think these stipulations are a million miles away from what Marx 
> is doing too?
> Yours, Rakesh

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