From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 18:13:57 EST

Patrick, you have [in post 6352] raised some interesting test cases with
respect to the logic of Marx's value analysis.

Take this passage first:  

>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.

Why is it significant that "Marx is able to offer a theory of profit that
applies when commodities sell at their value," given that the latter are
understood to be determined by socially necessary labor time?  Are you
suggesting that this case corresponds to the scenario of a "competitive"
capitalist economy?  If so, what grounds, other than simple tautology, are
there for believing this asserted correspondence?  

>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).

How about neoclassical general equilibrium theory, which of course defines
"commodity value" (and perhaps "competitive conditions") differently than
does Marx?  

Now the second passage:

>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.

Agreed, so long as "neoclassical economics" is understood as "perfectly
competitive general equilibrium theory."  Is that how you mean it?
Conversely, insofar as "aggregation" is a synonym for "the sum of...parts,"
 how is Marxian analysis fundamentally different in this regard, in light
of Morishima's aggregation theorem?

> Keynesian macroeconomics are still w/o a 

Really?  I thought they had been, based on inflexible-price models, or more
generally micro models with incomplete contracting conditions.  Conversely,
does Marx have a theory of *Keynesian*, i.e. involuntary unemployment?  If
so, where does he demonstrate why wage rates won't clear their respective
labor markets for given demand and supply conditions?

>The law of value gives Marx a theoretical framework where 
>the whole is greater than the sum of its parts;

That's what Morishima's aggregation theorem shows?  If not that, then what,
and is there not a counterpart in (any variant of) mainstream macro?

> moreover, though the 
>operation of the average rate of profit the macroeconomic whole operations 
>through each of the microeconomic parts.

Is this an assumption, or a result of some specification of how the
capitalist economy functions?  For example, if I argued that the average
rate of profit was determined *simultaneously* with the outcomes of "each
of the microeconomic parts*, is there a specific argument in Marx that can
be shown to invalidate this?


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