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

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Mar 20 2007 - 10:28:32 EDT

> Very quickly, here I agree with you only 50%.

Hi Riccardo:

In the spirit of this thread, how did you determine the magnitude
of agreement to be 50%?   Why not 48.7%?  Or 51.2%?   
The other day, btw, you expressed 100% agreement with what 
I wrote, but it should have been no more that 97% since there
were several grammatical mistakes on my part in that post. This 
would also be consistent with an interpretation which said that I
am a minor post-Riccardian. 8-)

> In Volume I, for example, it is clear that going
> on Marx moves from the individual capital as
> representative of the total, to a reasoning
> where the argument in terms of total capital in
> a class and monetary economy is OPPOSED to the
> conclusions which seemed to be reached at first.
> So, the macro logic is different, and opposed,
> and more fundamental than the 'micro'
> (representative firm) one.

I agree, of course, that he goes on to discuss the level of 
the aggregate social capital. My point was only that in the 
simple circuit M - C - M' it is legitimate to take the initial M
as given *if* we take it to (initially) explain the source of 
surplus value within the context of an abstract capitalist firm 
where there is no difference with other firms: i.e. before 
the presentation of the competition of capitalists). 

In the 'transformation', the issue primarily concerns the 
*distribution of surplus value* among capitalist firms (abstracting
from other issues such as bank capital, rent, etc.).  Is it
legitimate to take the quantity of M _there_ as 'given'?  I think
it is if framed only within the context of a presentation which
concerns the most abstract way in which surplus value is 
redistributed among capitalists,  assuming the mobility of 
c and labor power.    

One must recall, first and foremost, the context of that procedure.
It is, for instance,  a context in which there is *no accumulation* 
taking place.  Hence, the folly of thinking that for Marx this was 
presented as a dynamic process.  It was not -- it was essentially an 
exercise in simple comparative statics.  Can it be made (as part
of a reconstruction) dynamic?  Well, perhaps. But, then, it would 
address a different, more concrete issue than Marx was considering 
at that point in the drafts of Volume 3.  

In reply to Paul C:
I understand your point, but if you are to consider why M is *not*
given then you have to look not at the level where the transformation 
is presented but at a level of abstraction - way beyond that of 
_Capital_ - where the *state* is posited since the state has a role
in changing the nominal size of M.   What I would object to, however,
is going straight from Volume 3, Part 1 to  how  the process plays out
most concretely in actual capitalist social formations.  There are
intermediate steps in the analysis which need theorization.

In any event, in reply to the method of taking the magnitudes in 
_Capital_ as  'given' as in Fred's perspective, I think the *most 
interesting*  (post-_Capital_) questions  arise later in the analysis 
when we allow what has been *assumed* to be 'given' to change.  
So, Riccardo and you are raising interesting (but different) points,
but they are points which go beyond what Marx was trying to do with 
the transformation, imo.

In solidarity, Jerry


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