[OPE-L:5097] inverse transformation problem

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 15:08:58 EST

Fred and Alejandro,

So I agree with you that Marx's first transformation table cannot be 
in the form of C-C', as for example argued by Meghnad Desai who 
follows Bortkiewicz, Sweezy, Meek, Steedman and others.   Rather the 
first table is M-C' and the second M-M'--we do not have a commodity 
value and a price of production table.

Yet if the inputs are already in the price of production form, what 
is the error to which Marx himself calls attention? As we all know, 
the transformation problem is said to have Marx's own imprimatur due 
to the confession of error he putatively made.

Now this is where I find you both unconvicing. You both would have it 
that the error is inconsequential for Marx's price of production and 
price/value divergence calculations. Then there wouldn't be any real 
error of significance. So why then would Marx be worried about going 

In construcing the tableaux Marx had forgotten his fundamental 
principle, best understood by Mattick Jr, that value relations cannot 
treated as if they are observable and directly measurable.

Having forgotten this, Marx then wrote up his tables as if that the 
value transferred from the machine to the final product is exactly 
matched or divulged by the visible flow price of the machine.

Value, like Boltzmann's atomic hypothesis, after all is a category of 
understanding, not a  category of depiction. This of course no more 
makes value a useful fiction or Sombartian gedankensbild than atoms. 
It's no less reasonable to attribute reality to value though we 
cannot observe and directly measure it than it is for a child to 
learn that a teddy bear which is shown and then put behind a screen 
is still there but out of sight.

The urge to attribute reality to objects we cannot see is something 
we all learn at an early age, and which is essential to our being 
able to navigate in the real world. But the Machian stricture against 
unobservable has been applied by several critics against Marx's value 
theory on the grounds that it represents unfounded theoretical 

So, Fred and Alejandro, in confusing value as at once an unobservable 
and visible category, you are holding up the philosophical debate we 
should be having about the 'metaphysical' status of Marx's theorizing.

Yours, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 02 2001 - 09:57:28 EDT