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

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 12:05:41 EST

Hi Fred,

I have a worry somewhat independent of the issues you raise with Diego.

We already jousted about this during the summer.

You refer to Marx's "analytical framework" as being M - C - M'.

M - C - M' is a phenomenon of circulation.  It is implausible to me that
either the logic of capital or the framework for its analysis is  provided
by circulation.

I'm interested in your reference to the logic of capital.  Have you said
below that the logic of capital, as you use the term, is the same in volume
I as in volume III?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Pen-L Fred Moseley" <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 10:28 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

Quoting Diego Guerrero <diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES>:

> In my opinion, values and market prices determine each other mutually.
> Values are created by labour but the value of a commodity includes the
> MARKET price of the inputs. As Rakesh said in his last message, Marx has
> been misread also in this point. In
> <> I
> argue that the inputs have to be valued at market prices (m), not at
> (w) or production prices (p)--I thus disagree with Alejandro Ramos and
> Moseley too. In Capital I and II, Marx is assuming that m = w, and in
> Capital III, that m = p, but this is only the first assumption in
> As a general theory it should be assumed that m = m, different from both w
> and p. One can find in Marx's texts a fondation for this. The reason is
> he is (and we should be) interested in the process of creation of NEW
> values, and he says explicitly that for this we can and must abstract from
> the values that come from other places, like in the case of the chemist:

Hi Diego,

This is a very interesting paragraph, which discusses two different
questions.  These two questions are related, but I think we need to
distinguish between them more clearly:

1.  What was the logic of Marx's theory in the three volumes of Capital?

2.  How should we extend Marx's theory to a more general theory, which
includes market prices?

With respect to the first question, you seem to agree that Volume 3 of
Capital is about the determination of prices of production, and that
this theory assumes that the prices of the inputs are prices of
production.  That is, when you say that the inputs for the
determination of prices of production should be the market prices of
the inputs, you mean that this is your suggested generalization of
Marx's theory in Capital to include market prices, not your
interpretation of what Marx did in Volume 3; right?

Do I understand you correctly?

Is so, then it seems to me (based on our previous private email
discussions last Spring) that we are in substantial agreement about
Marx's logic in Capital.  The main points of agreement between us would
seem to be:

1.  The circulation of money capital (M - C . P . C' - M') is the basic
analytical framework of Marx's theory.

2.  This analytical framework suggests that the M at the beginning of
the circulation of money capital is TAKEN AS GIVEN, as the money
capital advanced to purchase means of production and labor-power.  And
the crucial point is that the SAME M is taken as given in the
determination of both value in Volume 1 and prices of production in
Volume 3.  Thus there can be no question of Marx "failing to transform
the inputs" of constant capital and variable capital from values to
prices of production. This initial given M is eventually explained as
equal to the prices of production of the means of production and means
of subsistence.

3.  The total surplus-value and the general rate of profit are
DETERMINED PRIOR to prices of production; in other words, Marx's theory
is based on a logic of SEQUENTIAL determination, not simultaneous

4.  Both of Marx's two aggregate equalities are always true simultaneously.

5.  Constant capital is valued at current costs (at the time the
products are sold), not at historical costs.

To what extent do you agree with these points about Marx's logic in Capital?

You seem to emphasize much more the second question in your recent
paper (and I think more generally in your recent work).  I agree that
this is an important question, and I would be happy to discuss it.  I
think there will be more disagreement about this second question.

But I think it is also important to emphasize that, within Marx's
analytical framework of Capital (essentially excluding market prices
and stopping in Volume 3 with prices of production), his logic is
correct, not flawed and inconsistent.  The Bortkiewicz criticism is
wrong, because it is based on a misunderstanding of Marx's logic in

So I think we need to distinguish more clearly between these two
questions.  I realize this more clearly now than I did in our previous


This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Feb 28 2007 - 00:00:08 EST