From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Thu Jan 26 2006 - 15:08:41 EST
Hi Jurriaan > If this is true, then what exactly is the "special case" a "special case" of? Good question. One way of looking at the Sraffian formalization of the TP is that it constructs an ideal or perfect case for Marx's theory of value to show its logical consistency. Eg. - homogeneous labour - uniform wage rate - uniform profit rate - no technical change - no change in income distribution - no change in output levels - self-replacing equilibrium - input prices = output prices - no price/value divergence due to disequilibrium supply and demand - etc. If Marx's theory of value doesn't work even when all these concessions are made, then, so the argument goes, it won't work for reality. Maybe the reactions to the TP can be classified into three major categories: (i) Deny the relevance of the special case. For example, TSS, as far as I understand it, denies "input prices = output prices". Farjoun and Machover, and Allin and Paul, deny the relevance of the assumption of "uniform profit rate" and deterministic models. Both approaches then construct models in which Marx's conservation claims hold. (ii) Accept the relevance of the special case, but concede some of Marx's claims. For example, Foley doesn't require the value of the real wage to be constant pre and post-transformation. But for Foley this doesn't really matter -- the theory can be applied without some of the price-value conservation properties. The critical attention placed on Marx's conservation claims is a bit of a storm in a teacup. (iii) Change Marx's value theory. For example, some early strands of value-form theory seem to deny the quantitative connection between labour-time and price, and move in a qualitative direction. So, at the very least, this special case has helped clarify (or maybe mystify!) under what precise conditions Marx's theory of value makes sense. It's like a simplified toy to play with and stretch the imagination. -Ian.
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