[OPE-L:7289] Re: Re: Re: interpreting Marx's texts

From: dashyaf@easynet.co.uk
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 16:40:42 EDT

I believed that the position I adopted in Value and Price in Marx's Capital 
in Jan 1975 (revised to correct the position on luxury production in May 
1976) followed Marx's position as clearly put  in Capital and Theories of 
Surplus Value. I was discussing with a few comrades at the time and the 
position developed appeared the only consistent/logical path to take. I was 
not aware of anyone arguing the position re c and v at the time in the same 
way outside the few comrades who were working together around the journal 
Revolutionary Communist. I am sure there must have been.

Fred's much later work expanded on the position. I corresponded with  him 
in 1995 for the first time and ask him if he had read my work in the 1970s 
and he said he had but had not appreciated that we had argued exactly the 
same position on the Value-Price transformation at the time. I met Fred in 
London a year or so ago and we discussed the issue with the text at hand 
and I think I convinced Fred we had argued the same position.  Clearly if 
it had been written today my article  would not have taken so much for 
granted and the essential points would have been expanded. Fred's work has 
expanded the points in more detail and spelt out even more clearly than I 
did why c and v are not 'transformed'.  We agree.

I gave a paper on the Value-Price transformation at Roskilde University, 
probably in the mid to late 1970s and Paul Mattick was present. After the 
paper and during discussion he said that he was in agreement with the main 
points. I was fortunate to meet Paul Mattick on two very enjoyable 
occasions and we discussed many issues but mainly our differences re Lenin 
and the Soviet Union. On the main aspects of our approach to the critique 
of political economy we were broadly in agreement.

I am unsure about Grossmann's position and like Rakesh my German is  really 
not up to standard anymore but, if time permits, I will read the relevant 
article and see what he argues.

In Economic Theory of the Leisure Class Bukharin seems to take the side of 
Bortkiewicz against Boem-Bawerk and does not discuss the transformation 
problem as far as I remember.

I think that the discussion of this issue has been settled, in so far as 
the antagonists have taken sides. Nevertheless Fred's articles are 
important for understanding Marx's position and I value them and assume 
future students of Marx will do as well. The point, as I keep on saying, is 
to change the world and develop and extend Marx's standpoint to make this 
possible. Some people think that this means first to criticise Marx and 
more often than not end up destroying the revolutionary core of Marx's 
writings. My position is contrary to this - it is to apply and extend that 
revolutionary core to today's conditions. That is the real test of Marx's 

David Yaffe

  At 00:30 30/05/02 -0400, you wrote:

>On Wed, 29 May 2002, gerald_a_levy wrote:
> > Fred wrote in [7279]:
> >
> > > No, I don't think Hilferding and Bukharin gave adequate responses to this
> > > critique.  If I did, I wouldn't be working on this issue.
> >
> > Then, what about David Y?  In [7266] you wrote that David and you
> > essentially agree on the response to the criticism of logical 
> contradiction.
> > Didn't David, from your perspective, give an adequate response in his May
> > l976  article "Value and Price in Marx's Capital" (_Revolutionary 
> Communist,
> > #l, 2nd edition: available online now at
> > http://www.rcgfifi.easynet.co.uk/marxism/articles ) ?
>I think David presented the germs of the right approach to understanding
>Marx's logical method and to responding to the critique of logical
>inconsistency.  In myview, the two main points of this interpretation are:
>1.  The determination of the total surplus-value and the general rate of
>profit prior to the determination of prices of production (not
>2.  The same quantities of constant capital and variable capital are taken
>as given (as quantities of money-capital) in the determination of both
>values and prices of production, and thus these quantities do not have to
>be transformed in the determination of prices of production.
>However, both of these points need to be further developed, especially #2,
>which I think is the  fundamentally new point in this interpretation.
>(The "new interpretation" of Foley, Dumenil, etc. partially agrees with
>with #2: they assume that the same quantity of variable capital is taken
>as given in the determination of both values and prices of production, but
>not constant capital.)
>As I have discussed with David, I think his discussion of this important
>point is much too brief, and not entirely clear.  So far as I know, David
>was the first person to present this interpretation.  (David, was there
>anyone before you?)  Any point this fundamentally new requires much more
>discussion and development.  But David was on the right track, and I have
>tried to follow those tracks.
>The other person that influenced my thinking a lot on this point is Mino
>Carchedi, especially his original article on this subject ("The Logic of
>Prices as Values," Economy and Society, 1984, (4): pp. 431-55). But the
>main thing that convinced me of this interpretation was rereading Marx's
>texts from this perspective.
>So I think we are on the right track, but more work still needs to be
>done, both in terms of fleshing out this new interpretation and in
>debating with other Marxists and with non-Marxists about this
>interpretation.  One article, or even several articles, is not enough.
> > > First of all, Hilferding responded to Bohm-Bawerk's critique of Marx, but
> > > not to Bortkeiwitz's critique.  Bohm-Bawerk's critique of the
> > > contradiction between Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 1 and his
> > > theory of prices of production in Volume 3 is weak, and so is 
> Hilferding's
> > > reply.  Bohm-Bawerk's main critique is of Marx's derivation in Chapter 1
> > > of Volume 1 of labor as the common property of commodities that 
> determines
> > > their exchange-values.  Hilferding's response to this more important
> > > critique is also weak and inadequate.
> >
> > There was nothing in von Bortkiewicz's critique that wasn't said first,
> > stronger and in more detail by Bohm-Bawerk.   Let us recall that
> > Bohm-Bawerk was and remains better known and, in addition to publishing
> > his article in l896 --  nine years before von Botkiewicz's shorter article
> > was published, his article was  published in English in l898 whereas von
> > Bortkiewicz's l907 article only appeared in English in l949 (52 years 
> later)
> > with Sweezy's  translation.
>Bohm-Bawerk said nothing about the failure to transform the inputs of
>constant capital and variable capital, which is the main criticism these
>days.  I never see references to Bohm-Bawerk's critique of Marx's theory
>of prices of production, whereas references to Bortkiewicz are everywhere.
> > > I don't know what Bukharin had to say about critiques of Marx's theory of
> > > prices of production.  Jerry, could you please tell us?  I doubt if 
> it was
> > > an adequate answer.  I imagine that, at best, it was similar to
> > > Hilferding's answer.  I doubt if Bukharin responded at all to
> > > Bortkeiwitz's critique.
> >
> > Bukharin's book is a critique of marginalism rather than being focused on
> > the TP.  This is, in a sense, a stronger response since it purports not
> > merely  to reply to the criticisms of Marx-critics but to critique their
> > school of  thought.
>Both tasks need to be done, and I myself am working on both tasks.
>Bukharin's critique of marginalism is good,  but it is certainly not all
>that needs to be done.  And my point was that he provides no response to
>the critics of Marx's theory of prices of production.  Even if Bukharin's
>critique of marginalism is a stronger response than an answer to the
>critics of Marx (I don't think so), the latter still needs to be done.
> > > That is why I think more work needs to be done on this issue.  Because a
> > > satisfactory response to this critique of Marx' s theory has not yet been
> > > given, or at least has not yet been fully developed.
> >
> > Note the tense of your reply.  You wrote above that "more work needs to
> > be done"  and that a "satisfactory response" has "not been given, or at
> > least  has not yet been fully developed".  Yet, I thought you claimed that
> > you  _had_ (past tense)  given a response to the charge of internal
> > inconsistency in  Marx.  What do  you now recognize is not entirely
> > satisfactory about _your_  response and what  has not been fully developed?
> > Wouldn't it then be fair  to say, *from your  perspective*, that you feel
> > that  the charges of internal  inconsistency in Marx  have *still* not been
> > satisfactorily developed?  That  sounds like a "step backwards" to me.
>Please see above.  I think progress is being made, but more progress still
>needs to be done.  This is not a step backwards, but slow steps forward.
>Jerry, thanks again for this discussion.  I get annoyed sometimes with
>your belittling of interpretive work on Marx's texts, but your questions
>have been good ones, and they have stimulated my thinking.  But maybe we
>should move our discussion off-list.  No one else appears to be

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