[OPE-L:6352] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: recent science and society and Fred M's interpretation (fwd)

From: Patrick L. Mason (pmason@garnet.acns.fsu.edu)
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 15:56:20 EST


I have a yes and a no on whether the law of value may is necessary for 
drawing the distinction between labor and labor-power. No, in the sense 
that one can always say that capitalists pay for X units of output from 
workers (based on x units/day * number of days paid for by capital) but 
shirking workers may only provide aX units of output, where 0 < = a < 1. 
But, this is not Marx's distinction. Marx's distinction is that capital 
gets exactly what it paid for in terms of control of laborer's work time. 
And, this transactions takes place within a competitive economy (but not 
the neoclassical world of perfect competition). The commodity produced by 
workers also sells at a price where capital only earns the normal or 
average rate of return. By working in value theoretic terms Marx is able to 
offer a theory of profit that applies when commodities sell at their value.

Outside of Marxian economics, I am unaware of any school of thought that 
has a logically consistent theory of profit when commodities are sold at 
their value (when they are sold under competitive conditions).

Marx's theory of profit is inseparably linked to his value analysis. 
Moreover, the fact that no other school of thought has a similarly powerful 
theory of profit might reasonably lead us to suspect that a labor value 
theoretic analysis is the only way to develop a theory of profit. In any 
case, no one else has done it w/o the law of value.

On the second point regarding the transition between micro and macro. 
Morishima rightfully pointed out that labor values permit Marx to obtain an 
extraordinary aggregation theorem. For example, in neoclassical economics 
there really is no such thing as "macroeconomics," the whole is no more 
than the sum of its parts. Keynesian macroeconomics are still w/o a 
microfoundation. The law of value gives Marx a theoretical framework where 
the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; moreover, though the 
operation of the average rate of profit the macroeconomic whole operations 
through each of the microeconomic parts.

In many disciplines from theology to physics to economics scholars are 
involved in a disparate search to find a "general theory." Marx did it and 
the law of value was the centerpiece of that general theory.

peace, patrick

At 03:10 PM 1/16/02 -0500, you wrote:
>Hello, Patrick.  You write in part,
> >What made Marx a Marxist?
> >
> >1. Marx thought his most important contribution to political economy was
> >his distinction between labor
> >     and labor power.
> >2. Marx is able integrate macroeconomics (FROP, reserve army of unemployed)
> >and microeconomics (prices of production) through his use of labor values.
> >Can the labor/labor power distinction be made without Marx's law of value?
>Yes, clearly, since the distinction defined by Marx at the beginning of
>Vol. I, Ch. 6 depends in no way on the definition of commodity labor values
>or their relation to commodity prices.  The real question is whether the
>"law of value" (whatever that means) is essential for demonstrating the
>legitimate political economic significance of this distinction.  What basis
>is there for answering this question in the affirmative?
> >Is it possible to move between microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis in
> >a systemic fashion w/o law of value?
>If the only analytical criterion sought is the ability to "move between
>micro and macro analysis in a systemic fashion,"  the answer is clearly yes
>on simple empirical grounds.  If the criterion, as suggested above, is the
>ability to provide theoretical accounts of the FROP or the reserve army of
>the unemployed, again yes, on the same grounds.  The real question is
>whether the "law of value" has anything uniquely valid to offer to the task
>of developing an integrated treatment of micro and macro phenomena.  If so,
>what is it?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Feb 02 2002 - 00:00:05 EST