Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 04:08:09 EST


What this means is that one has to grasp at least in the most general 

and abstract way the order of  all of the different steps related to (in this case) 

price before one begins the *presentation* of the analysis with an 

examination of the commodity.  Marx, I think, had a pretty good idea of 

what these steps were and how it "all fit together", but do we? 

Instead of proceeding as Marx did, I think instead we often proceed 

as if the order of presentation represents the real order in which

the subject needs to be grasped.  We should not confuse the order

of analysis with the order of presentation.



OK. But I think something similar to what Jurriaan means when he says: "Strictly
speaking of course Marx does not have a labour theory of value, he has a labour theory of output values." At least, it is that what constitutes his primary concern in Capital although I am aware that he deals as well with the price of land, etc.



> There is no doubt that Iraqi antiquities were part of the 

> surplus-labour realized at the moment, not of present 

> surplus-value. But again, before considering the relation 

> between the capitalist mode of production and other 

> modes of production, we  should analyse the former in 

> its purity (this applies also to the Inuits). 



If you are saying that in terms of the *order of  presentation* we must

first consider the subject matter "in its pure form", then I agree.

But, we must not forget that the subject matter isn't a product of

thought, but a real product of history.  Part of the real process of

capitalist history has been to have a valuation of products created

in pre-capitalist history.   My point is simply that this must mean,

*more concretely*, that total value can NOT equal total price.  This 

should be grasped at least in a general way even before one presents 

the subject of  the commodity-form, even though one doesn't present 

it at that time.  In other words, it forms a presupposition (both

historically and in thought)  of the presentation of the commodity-form.




In any case, I was meaning total direct prices = total production prices = total market prices in the context of  Marx's "labour theory of output values" in capitalism.





>  As for the tigers they are the result of a production 

> process and so a normal commodity. It is true that 

> tigers are part of  Nature but not more than minerals or 

> oil.


No.  An explanation for the price at which tigers are sold on the 

market requires a comprehension of the role of the *State*.

Remember that it is illegal to hunt and sell tigers and that the

hunting is done on publicly-owned reserves.  This creates a

black market for tigers and the additional risk associated with

tiger-hunting (i.e. the risk of being caught, fined and/or imprisoned)

is considered in price determination.  If the market price of tigers 

equalled value [as conventionally understood by Marxians] 

then it's doubtful that there would be tiger hunting to begin with.


[Another difference is that tigers, unlike oil, are capable of 





I agree with you. When there exists a systematic shortage of supply (due to the presence of the state of whatever) a black market arises with a market price higher than the "equilibrium" price. The important point is that no market price that is systematically higher than the regulating price (in the Marxian sense) due to demand reasons contradict the LTV.




> I think that most cases you cite are examples of the 

> non-freely-reproducible goods of which Ricardo 

> already spoke, to  which does not apply the main norm 

> of the LTV, because their price is determined by 

> demand. In conventional terms, their

> supply is a vertical line, so the price can be any 

> depending on the intensity of demand.


I agree that the examples do not apply to the main norm

of the LTV.  That was my point in a sense.  Rather than

simply saying, though, that these "special cases" are 

determined by demand, we have to consider on a more 

concrete level the impact on the aggregate level of the 

"deviations" from the norm that happen on the "micro" level.  

Simply relying on conventional analysis of S and D is not 





What do you propose then?




In solidarity, Jerry




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