Re Diego's : > When you want to compare internationally the VLP you may be thinking of either labor-values or credit-money-values. If the former, we have to take into account that a bigger amount of commodities in country A (more developed) entering in the workers' basket may represent less quantity of value that a smaller amount of commodities in a less developed country. I agree _yet_ when you write "value" at the end of the last sentence above, you clearly mean _international value_. This then becomes the issue: rather than _assuming_ international value this is a concept that has to be _systematically developed_. If the latter, we have to consider a second factor too: the different value of money in both countries, i.e. their different ratios between the labor they perform in their financial systems and the national mass of money in each case. All that does inform us about disparities between the VLP and wages globally. Agreed. It seems to me that the disparities in the MELT (monetary expressions of labor time) on the international level presuppose an examination of state policy. To simply state that there are "limits" to state intervention and/or that during a crisis the LOV (law of value) reasserts itself is not enough. Rather -- if we are to understand this question in the context of Simon's original question relating to how contemporary capitalism works -- we have to develop a systematic exposition of the conditions under which (national) values change and the actual role(s) of the state. You are probably referring to another related issue. If we start from national data (either labor or money data) we won't generally arrive at the same results that if we had at our disposal worldy data, which is not the case. Well, this is one of the many statistical limitations we have to face. Agreed. The issue isn't whether we should do empirical work with national income statistics constructed by different national states. The question is how we _interpret_ our empirical findings in the context of international value. To raise just one of many issues related to interpreting national income data: there is no accounting in such data for commodities produced in the "underground economy". Yet, clearly this is a _very_ important sector of many contemporary capitalist social formations. The commodities that are produced in the "underground economy" aren't counted by nation states (or even estimated reliably by international agencies). Yet, from a Marxist perspective these commodities _do_ count. Whether capitalist firms are employing "legal" or "illegal" (documented or undocumented) workers does not determine whether they are productive of surplus value (although, it certainly _does_ have an impact on regional disparities between wages and the V[s]LP.) Similarly, whether a capitalist sells Coke or cocaine does not alter the fact that both take the commodity- form and "count" (indeed, many of the commodities produced in the "underground economy" enter into -- and can change over time -- the V[s]LP). [Diego again:] I was writing about "the general case of the LTV", i.e. supposing there is no non-reproducible commodities land and other commodiities obtaining a rent) nor taxes, transport costs, etc. Of course, if we are starting from different national VLP we have to assume different values for many services and other non-wordly-tradable commodities, which leaves more room for differences between empirical prices and the regulating ones (those which interest mostly to students of the LTV). Yet, even assuming all of the conditions that you state above, there still _tend_ to develop systematic and persistent violations of the so-called LOOP. Consider price determination where there are oligopolies: unlike most heterodox (e.g. PK) theories, Marxian theory has the advantage of being able to explain _how_ competitive branches of production (in the classicals' sense of the term) become over time transformed into branches dominated by oligopolies. I.e. instead of simply _assuming_ two types of market structures, Marxian theory has a causal explanation for the transition over time to oligopolistic markets -- i.e. rather than simply being the anti-thesis of competition, they are the _result_ of competition and the concentration and centralization of capital. Yet, once a branch of production becomes oligopolistic and _product differentiation (and marketing and advertising) tends to replace, but not totally eliminate, price competition and technological change as a competitive strategy by firms_, then those firms have a somewhat arbitrary ability to set prices. In practice there tend not to be large price disparities by firms selling commodities in the same market: e.g. in a system of "price leadership", the leading oligopoly sets the prices for their commodities then the other oligopolies "follow the leader". What is important to note is that where there are oligopolies dominating markets, then prices _can_ be different and there is no "regulating" mechanism that will of necessity tendencially bring about a uniform price. By the way, in a theoretical model a simplifying assumption may be a law, at least in the same way that in the most general model in Capital (the book) there are only two classes whereas in the concrete historical analyses by Marx (see, for instance The class struggles in France) there a lot of different classes, fractions of class, etc. Yet, we can not simply assume that a simplifying assumption *is* a law. In general I think that in Marx's theory -- if it is interpreted as an exercise in a systematic dialectical reconstruction in thought of the subject matter (capitalism) -- that what is taken to be "given" by assumption at one level of abstraction must be systematically developed at subsequent more concrete levels of abstraction. Thus, what might seem to be a simplifying assumption, might in fact be viewed by the author (Marx) as a _result_ -- but a result that can only really emerge later in the analysis as a result. Consider a "two class simplifying assumption". Even at the level of analysis of "capital in general", there can not be _only_ 2 major classes (and indeed he explicitly refers in V3 to 3 major classes). This is because the topics addressed in "capital in general" *presume other classes*. Thus, when we consider the process of the concentration and centralization of capital and the process of proletarianization we see that *other classes* are presumed. Thus, a class of those who aren't part of the capitalist class but who own and control their own means of production (including small business owners and small peasants [excluding large 'peasants' who employ an agricultural proletariat and produce on a large-scale -- these are really agricultural capitalists rather than peasants]) as a result of the centralization and concentration of capital are typically proletarianized or incorporated into larger units of capital [through mergers.] So, the "two class" assumption really isn't _just_ a simplifying assumption. It is an assertion that must be developed (because it is one-sided and incomplete) which can reemerge later in the presentation as a result -- or perhaps be *inverted* at a more concrete level of analysis. This is one of the reasons why I think that it is _not_ correct to say that Marx employed certain "axioms" in _Capital_. Within a systematic dialectical presentation, there is a analytical _requirement_ that what has been assumed to exist at one level of the analysis -- to the extent that it concerns an essential relation associated with the subject matter -- must be fully developed and comprehended at subsequent, more concrete, levels of analysis (I think this is important for how we _interpret_ Fred's claims about what Marx takes as "given" in _Capital_.) Yes, we have to be very careful when adopting "marginalist techniques". But also when adopting Marxist techniques or ideas that are not in Marx and that in some cases plainly contradict Marx. For instance, I think that the LTV shows a great advantage compared to the surplus approach theory (or "absence of theory"). Marginalism can be used with independence of neoclassical ideas. Historically Cournot proved this in 1838. What exactly did Cournot prove? In solidarity, Jerry PS: could you or Alejandro V or Abelardo tells us about "Marx-Marxismos Hoy"? It seems to me to be kind of a 'quasi-list' in the sense that it looks to be mostly a bulletin board for announcements and re-posting of messages from other sources but _also_ a discussion list to the extent that one can also comment on the announcements or messages of others. It looks very promising and it is encouraging to see such a serious forum about political economy in Spanish. Best wishes for that project. Please tell us more.
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