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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 17:24:44 EST

Quoting Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>:

> 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.

Hi Howard,

I don’t think we have a serious disagreement here.

I say that the “analytical framework” of Marx’s theory is the
circulation of money capital (M – C … P … C’ - M’) (which includes P as
you noted later) because:

1.  it identifies the MAIN QUESTION(s) to be answered by Marx's theory
– how M becomes (M + dM), and what determines the magnitude of dM;

2.  it identifies some of the INITIAL GIVENS in Marx’s theory – the
initial M, the quantities of money capital advanced to purchase means
of production and labor-power at the beginning of the circulation of
money capital (the M in M-C …).

You are concerned that this seems to leave out Marx’s explanation of
surplus-value (dM) in production.  But I agree that Marx’s analytical
framework also includes production and living labor as the source of
surplus-value (the P phase in the circulation of money capital).  Also
taken as given in Marx’s theory, in order to explain dM, are quantities
of SNLT and the MELT (the quantity of money value produced per hr. of

The main point I have been emphasizing is that Marx’s analytical
framework is very different from the analytical framework of Sraffa’s
theory, which:

1.  asks a different set of questions (the determination of relative
unit prices and the rate of profit);

2.  takes as given physical quantities of inputs and outputs.

I am not arguing now that Marx’s theory is superior to Sraffa’s theory;
that is a separate question, which I would be happy to discuss.  What I
am arguing now is that the analytical framework of Marx’s theory is
fundamentally DIFFERENT from Sraffa’s theory.  And that, once Marx’s
different analytical framework is understood, the alleged “logical
contradictions” in Marx’s theory disappear.  These contradictions
appear only as a result of a misinterpretation of Marx’s theory, as
essentially the same as Sraffa’s theory.

Howard, do you see my point about the different initial givens –
quantities of money capital vs. quantities of physical inputs and
outputs – in Marx’s theory and Sraffa’s theory?  What do you think?

> 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?

What I am saying is that the same quantities of money capital - the
quantities of money capital advanced to purchase means of production
and labor-power at the beginning of the circulation of money capital –
are taken as given, both in the theory of the total surplus-value in
Volume 1 and in the theory of prices of production in Volume 3.
Otherwise, the logic of Volume 3 is very different from the logic in
Volume 1, because the two volumes are about different questions.
Volume 1 is mainly about the determination of the total surplus-value,
and Volume 3 is mainly about the division of the total surplus-value
into individual parts.


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