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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 26 2007 - 19:13:04 EDT

Allin wrote:

>I'm talking about the status of the input prices Marx used when
>setting up his examples.  These are not "given" is any real sense,
>Marx has made them up.
>  He gets to decide what they're supposed to
>  He may be tempted to choose (b), but if he does so
>this would seem to undermine his argument: he's lost contact with
>the value basis.  He's trying to demonstrate the relationship
>between values and prices (of production), not the relationship
>between prices and prices.

That the explanandum is indeed the relationship between prices and
prices or rather intertemporal changes in profits and prices is as
clear as day if one only reads the whole chapter.

What we have are prices and their movements. Marx is interested in
the changes of prices of production and the profit rate.  That is
what has to be explained. Because prices of production conceal their
basis in value, it is not easily ascertainable how changes in prices
and the profit rate reflect changes in value relations, viz. a
tendency for falling profit rate reflects a decline in new value
relative to dead labor in the system as a whole and differential
labor productivity is generally reflected in changes in exchange

Marx never says that he begins with value prices and needs to or
should have transformed them along with the outputs into the same
prices of production. Marx evinces no interest in transforming the
outputs and inputs into the same price of production. He never said
that this needs to be done and that he failed to do it. Indeed in a
fetishistic economy we can never begin with transparent value
magnitudes, and he did not so begin. He began with cost prices, the
sum of money capitalists lay out to commence production Marx shows
that whatever prices were paid for the mop purchased directly and the
mos purchased indirectly, the prices of production are governed by
and conceal value.

And as I already:  if prices of production don't change in the course
of production
and realization of commodities, when do they change?


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