Re: [OPE-L] SV: [OPE-L] what is irrational in the functioning of capitalism?

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2006 - 11:42:48 EST

Dogan and others,

Here is how I understand what is at stake in its simplest terms. It
has become a very angry debate in value theory.

Samuelson and Steedman are probably correct that the fundamental
Sraffian challenge to Marx's
value theory is the charge of redundancy. With all due respect to
Pack and others, the science fiction scenarios of total automation
actually don't help to throw much light on the causal determinants of
profits and prices in a capitalist economy.

What Samuelson and Steedman emphasize  is that the quantitative
allocation of social labor
time is determined by the techniques of production. If advanced techniques are
available in one branch and not another, it could be that less social
labor time will have
to be allocated to the former branch than the latter even if demand
is relatively
higher for its output.

But once we have the techniques of production in terms of which the
allocation of social labor time is ultimately determined, it could be
argued, prices and profits
can be determined without any reference to values.

But can one really move from techniques of production, coupled with a
political resolution
of the distributional question, to determination of prices and
profits? What are the questionable
assumptions built into this theory of determination? What happens
when the techniques of production,themselves the evanaescent
objectifications of social labor, are changing from period to period?
Is there anything solid there on the basis of which to do the
determination? Isn't freezing the technical conditions metaphysical
in its own way?

Can we avoid determination of market phenomena of price and profit
in terms of social labor time magnitudes in a dynamic setting? I
think not.

TSS is fundamentally correct about this, I believe.

Fixing the technical conditions of production only allows for prices
and profits to be determined
without value in another science fiction scenario, a stationary
capitalism, a contradiction adjectivo (forgot the Latin).


>I was thinking of Spencer Pack's analysis of total automation in his
>Reconstructing Marxian Economics.
>And it occurred to me that Marx  says that the value of a commodity
>only regulates its price when social labor relations have to be
>organized through the exchange of commodities as a result of private
>production for profit. Society has to, as it were, discover the quota
>of social labor time it has to allocate to the different branches of
>production, and due to its relations of production bourgeois society
>can  do this only by imputing value to things and reacting to price
>differentials from it.
>Of course if the economy were on auto pilot, then value would not
>regulate prices and consequently profits. You could have positive
>profit and prices in a total automation economy but that economy
>would have different laws of motion than a capitalist economy. Indeed
>it would be solving a different problem than a capitalist economy.
>The problem would be the distribution of the surplus conceived only
>in use value terms not the quantitative and qualitative allocation of
>social labor time.
>If you don't have a time allocation problem you can't have value.
>Seems pretty basic to Marx's theory to me. But I am not an economist.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Dec 02 2006 - 00:00:04 EST