[OPE-L:6404] Re: Production techniques

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 16:41:18 EST

In response to this passage from me,

>>> Let's pursue that point a second.  Do you accept the possibility that
>>> profit-seeking capitalists would choose among available production
>>> techniques based on relative prices of inputs (so as to minimize costs)?
>>> And if so, since the choice of production techniques determines the direct
>>> and indirect abstract labor requirements for production, wouldn't it be
>>> more appropriate to say that prices "come before" total value?

AR [6375] writes:

>And, what are those ghost-like "production techniques"? Who DID produce
>them? How? How is it that they are "available"? Did they drop from the sky?
>In a real, historical capitalist society, what should "come before" if we
>are going to have "production techniques" and "prices"?

I'm puzzled by this response, Alejandro.  Are you claiming that answering
these questions would somehow alter the sense of my argument that commodity
values should be understood as at least *interdependent* with commodity
prices, rather than (as Rakesh claimed) analytically *prior* to them?  If
not, then these questions, while interesting in their own right, are
necessarily red herrings with respect to the issue at hand.  If so, then I
confess I don't see the connection you're suggesting.  Could you
demonstrate the claim that answers to these questions would necessarily
invalidate my argument?  I'd be happy to proceed from there.   Otherwise, I
would assume that with this group at least I don't need to rehearse the
obvious fact that production conditions are historically given every time I
mention the word "production."  

>Reading this passage by Gil, it seems to me that he reads "Capital" as it
>were a Microeconomic textbook.

That assumes, doesn't it, that you can infer how I "read 'Capital' " from
the set of questions I raise on this particular topic, on this particular
list.  That's a little presumptuous, isn't it?  Presumptuous or not, the
comment is perceptive to the extent that many of the questions I've raised
about Marx's argument in Capital have to do with issues that would be
labelled "microeconomic" in contemporary terms.  But so what?  That doesn't
mean the questions are themselves inappropriate or irrelevant, does it?
I've also raised questions on this list with respect to issues that would
be labelled "macroeconomic" in contemporary terms, and I've never insisted
on drawing any hard and fast line between the two.

 What wonders me is that he goes on to it as
>it were a completely natural and uncontroversial procedure... Perhaps it
>would be worth to ask: Is "Capital" a Microeconomic textbook? Is there any
>difference between the method and purpose of Marx's book and, say,
>Varian's? Was Marx simply a primitive version of Lancaster?

Aren't these questions also red herrings?  Can't one ask questions about
the logical foundations of Marx's *analytical* claims about outcomes in
capitalist markets without worrying about branding them as "microeconomic"
or "macroeconomic"?


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Feb 02 2002 - 00:00:06 EST