[OPE-L:7263] Re: Re: Re: interpreting Marx's texts (was: hermeneutics) (fwd)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Mon May 27 2002 - 18:48:45 EDT

Fred writes in 7269

>This is an interesting question about Grossmann and Mattick.  I would
>say, yes, they understood the essential nature of capitalism as
>exploitation.  But I don't think they provided satisfactory answers to the
>criticism of a logical contradiction in Marx's theory.  At least not
>Mattick.  I don't know about Grossmann, but I have never read anything
>about Grossmann's interpretation of prices of production.  (Rakesh, can
>you help us?  Is there a response to Bortkiewitz?)

Fred, you are probably correct to differentiate your interpretation 
of macro to micro from Grossmann's successive approximation method, 
but Grossmann's undertanding of that method is more complex than 
usually recognized. As I remember there is only footnote to 
Bortkiewicz in Grossmann's wert-preis analysis and when I attempted 
to translate it, I got no sense that Grossmann had understood that 
criticism. But I could be wrong, and I have emailed Rick Kuhn for 

What Grossmann attempted to show through an attempt to reconstruct 
Marx's method was that there was no contradiction between the vol 1 
assumption of the proportionality of value and prices and vol 3 that 
values could not be proportional to prices.

Marx did not abstract away from variance in the composition and 
turnover of capital in vol 1 because  he  believed that variance in 
the composition of capital interfered only in a minor and exceptional 
way with the labor theory of value as viscosity of the medium, air 
currents, surface area and myriad other factors make the actual case 
of free fall in physics unpredictable. 

It may be true however that Ricardo brushed aside variance in 
composition and turnover because it made things easier to think about 
and Ricardo felt that this assumption only made a minor departure 
from the truth which can be easily estimated and allowed for at a 
closer approxmiation to reality. That is,  Ricardo may have thought 
that the relation between labor value and exchange ratio was  strong 
enough to swamp the multiple sources of complexity.

Now Grossmann does not reconstruct Marx's method of successive 
approximation in this way.  For Grossmann, Marx knew from the outset 
that values and prices could not be proportional but because he 
wanted to isolate the capital-labor relation for intensive analysis, 
he simply abstracted away from variance in composition and turnover 
rather than ever assuming that uniformity was a reasonable first 
approximation which could easily be corrected for at a later stage of 

So for Grossmann Marx never thought that value price proportionality 
was a reasonable first approximation; rather proportionalilty was 
only a working assumption which had to be made in order to focus on 
the capital-labor relationship.  That assumption is then dropped at a 
later stage of analysis.

Again this is based on my reading and reconstruction. My German is 
now worse than it was seven years ago. So any correction would be 

All the best, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sun Jun 02 2002 - 00:00:08 EDT