[OPE-L:7568] Moving on...

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Thu Aug 29 2002 - 16:46:53 EDT

Was: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Fred's remarks on Marx, Sraffa & Rents

Hi, Fred. You write

>Gil, the fact that, in a system of commodity money, the money commodity
>has no price and is a scarce precious metal is not a historical
>contingency, but a necessity due to the nature of money.  Marx did not
>discuss the money commodity in Part 2 of Volume 3 because the money
>commodity has no price of production and does not participate in the
>equalization of profit rates like other industries.

Fred, my point--or one of them, anyway--was that the money commodity need 
not have a "price of production" for it to be appropriately included in the 
so-called "price of production" equation system.  So long as its *inputs* 
have prices of production and it is produced by capitalist firms, then a 
corresponding relationship I referred to as an "accounting equation" would 
necessarily still have to be satisfied along with the others, and thus must 
be included.  Thus the real issue here is whether Marx intended to exclude 
the money commodity sector *a priori* from his Chapter 9 analysis on the 
basis of the historically contingent issues you raise.  Speaking just for 
myself, I'm not entirely convinced by your argument given that (a) Marx 
does not explicitly indicate that he is excluding the money commodity 
sector from his Ch. 9  analysis ( and I'm tempted to ask:  what *other* 
industries do you understand Marx to have ruled out on the basis that they 
were not organized on a capitalist basis as of when he wrote the draft of 
Volume III in the mid-1860s, and what other unstated restrictions do you 
understand him to have made as to the generality of his theoretical 
argument in that chapter?) and (b) in an earlier chapter in Vol. III Marx 
represented his project as a general theoretical exercise that *abstracted* 
from such historically given exceptions.

But whether or not I'm convinced, I originally posted this scenario asking 
if you found it relevant to our discussion.  You've indicated that you 
don't, so good enough--we might as well move on.   In anticipation of the 
next step of our discussion I went back and read your post in the archives 
that first mentioned this notion that surplus value is determined prior (in 
an analytical sense) to prices of production.  I reproduce the relevant 
passage below for reference:

 >... matrix algebra does not fit with Marx's logical
 >method.  Matrix algebra Marxism assumes that the rate of profit is
 >determined simultaneously with prices of production and that the initial
 >givens in Marx's theory of values and prices of production are the
 >physical quantities of inputs and outputs.  Marx's own logic, to the
 >contrary, assumes that the rate of profit is determined prior to prices of
 >production, by the Volume 1 analysis of capital in general, and that the
 >initial givens are quantities of money-capital (constant capital and
 >variable capital), quantities of abstract labor, and the money-value
 >produced per hour of abstract labor.

Questions (with apologies if you already addressed these before I became 
aware of this exchange): (1) At what prices are the elements that determine 
"the rate of profit" evaluated, if not prices of production, and what basis 
is there for using these alternative prices, if they never actually obtain, 
even abstractly? For example, in your above statement, at what prices are 
"quantities of money-capital" and "the money-value produced per hour of 
abstract labor" evaluated, if not the prices of production referred to 
above, and on what grounds are they invoked? (2) In your reading, what 
conditions does Marx require to render valid the postulate that the rate of 
profit is determined (analytically) prior to prices of production?

Posing these questions is an imposition, I realize, for which I apologize; 
but I think these issues have to be clarified up front in order to avoid 
future misunderstandings about what constitutes relevant arguments with 
respect to Marx's analysis on this point.  Thanks in advance.

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