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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 26 2007 - 09:07:02 EDT

Quoting Paul Cockshott <clyder@GN.APC.ORG>:

> I am unsure as to why people on this list continue to
> expend so much effort discussing the transformation problem.
> Since the list started more than 10 years ago it has been
> an abiding topic of concern. During that period Allin and
> I have presented data both on the list and in published papers
> that the whole debate is based on a counter-factual assumption
> of profit equalisation, and that in fact the theory of prices
> of production is no better at predicting market prices than is
> the simple labour theory of value.
> Despite this the debate continues, why?
> If there had been a lively debate about our data with people
> questioning it, and disputing it, I could understand the
> continued argument about the transformation 'problem' but
> other than by Andrew Kliman, our data has not been questioned
> by list members.
> Do those who continue debating the 'problem' not accept the
> evidence we have published?
> Do they have theoretical arguments as to why the 'problem' still
> exists in the face of empirical evidence that it does not?
> Or is it just inertia - this is what we were trained in, so we
> will go on discussing it until we retire?

Hi Paul,

Even if there is no actual tendency toward equal rates of profit in
some capitalist economies, I think it is still important to explain
profit rate equalizing prices of production because:

1.  This is still a possible state of capitalist economies, which a
theory of capitalism should be able to explain.

2.  The alleged contradiction between this possible state and the labor
theory of value has been the main reason given be economists and others
over the last century for rejecting Marx’s theory.

3.  This is an intermediate step toward the further explanation of
long-run center-of-gravity prices that do not equalize the rate of
profit.  In this further development of the theory, the same
fundamental premise would be maintained – that the total surplus-value
is determined prior to its distribution, and is not affected by that


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