Re: [OPE-L] price of production/supply price/value

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


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