[OPE-L:7687] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moving on...

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu Sep 19 2002 - 14:11:41 EDT

On Tue, 17 Sep 2002, Gil Skillman wrote:
> Hi, Fred, you write:
> >Hi Gil, I will respond in terms of constant capital, but the same argument
> >also applies to variable capital.
> >
> >It is true that the constant capital that Marx took as given in his theory
> >of surplus-value in Volume 1 and in his theory of prices of production in
> >Volume 3 is eventually explained (in Volume 3, after prices of production
> >are determined) as equal to product of the quantities of the means of
> >production times the unit prices associated with the prices of production
> >of the means of production (see point #6 in 7652).
> Granted. But isn't it also true that "the constant capital that Marx took 
> as given in his theory of surplus-value in Volume I" must necessarily be 
> the sum of inputs of means of production times their respective prices, 
> *whatever* these prices are (in particular, whether or not they are 
> understood as "prices of production" in the sense you use below), and 
> whether or not these prices have yet been "explained"?  Could constant 
> capital represent *anything else* but such a product?  If so, what?

Marxs theory of the circulation of capital begins with a quantity of
money, M.  Capital "appears first" as a quantity of money.  Marx took this
first appearance of capital as the initial given in this theory of
capital, i.e. his theory of how this given quantity of money becomes
bigger, through the purchase and sale of commodities.  

This quantity of money is invested to purchase means of production and
labor-power.  It is certainly true that the quantity of money constant
capital is be definition identically equal to the quantity of means of
production purchased times their "purchase price", whatever that is.  And
the quantity of money variable capital is identically equal to the
quantity of labor-power purchased times the "purchase price" of

If this is what you asked, then the answer is yes.

But I dont see the significance of this.  The identity of constant capital
and Q*P of the means of production, and the identity of variable capital
and w*L, play no role in Marxs theory of surplus-value and prices of
production.  In Marxs theory of surplus-value, the "value
transferred" from the means of production to the value of the output is
equal to the constant capital invested in these means of production (which
is taken as given).  And surplus-value is equal to the difference between
the new-value produced by current labor ( = m L) and the variable capital
invested in the purchase of labor-power (which is also taken as
given).  In Marxs theory of prices of production, the same quantities of
money constant capital and money variable capital are taken as given as
"inputs" in the determination of prices of production.  

> >   However, this does not
> >mean that Marxs theory is the same as Sraffas theory, because unit prices
> >in Marxs theory are derived in an entirely different way from the unit
> >prices in Sraffas theory.  Unit prices in Sraffas theory are derived
> >simultaneously with the rate of profit.
> This is an answer to a different question than the one I asked, which is 
> more basic, and thus analytically prior to the question of how prices of 
> production are "derived" in the respective accounts.  The more basic 
> question I'm asking is:  isn't it true that the magnitude of constant 
> capital (and thus that for variable capital) taken as given in Marx's 
> account is equal to the vector product of means of production and their 
> respective input prices (*not* their "prices of production"), however the 
> latter are determined, and whether or not they have been "explained"?
> >   Unit prices in Marxs theory are
> >derived by dividing the prices of production of each commodity by the
> >quantity of each commodity. The prices of production are derived by adding
> >the average profit to the given constant capital and variable capital in
> >each industry, where the average profit is equal to the general rate of
> >profit (already determined prior to prices of production) times the total
> >capital invested in each industry.  Therefore, the unit prices in Marxs
> >theory are not the same as the unit prices in Sraffas theory.
> Again, you're answering a different question than the one I asked.  I'm not 
> asking yet about the "derivation" of prices of production under either 
> account; I'm asking if it's not necessarily the case that the monetary 
> magnitudes of constant capital that Marx takes as given in Volume I. are 
> equal to the vector products defined above.  One reason I'm asking this 
> more basic question is hinted at by your answer, which *assumes* a 
> theoretical conclusion that is in dispute, namely that the "average profit" 
> can in fact be determined *prior* to prices of production, such that it is 
> possible to *arrive* at prices of production by *augmenting* constant and 
> variable capital magnitudes according to a *predetermined* "general rate of 
> profit".  Marx, and thus you, are *asserting* that the general rate of 
> profit can be determined analytically prior to prices of production, and 
> thus at minimum that it is *logically possible* to make this prior 
> determination.  Thus you have the burden to prove this assertion rather 
> than simply asserting it.

I have already explained how it is logically possible to determine the
rate of profit prior to prices of production in the summary of my
interpretation ( 7652).


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