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

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@WFU.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 26 2007 - 19:53:51 EDT

On Mon, 26 Mar 2007, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> 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
>> represent.
>>  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.

Rakesh, what chapter are you talking about?

From context, I assumed we were talking about chapter 9 of Capital
III.  In that case, the problem to be solved has been set at the
end of the previous chapter, as follows:

"We have thus demonstrated that different lines of industry have
different rates of profit, which correspond to differences in the
organic composition of their capitals ... on the assumption which
has been the basis of all our analyses so far, namely that the
commodities are sold at their values. There is no doubt, on the
other hand, that ... differences in the average rate of profit in
the various branches of industry do not exist in reality.... It
would seem, therefore, that here the theory of value is
incompatible with the actual process, incompatible with the real
phenomena of production, and that for this reason any attempt to
understand these phenomena should be given up."

The problem is unequivocally the relationship between the prices
that correspond to an equalized rate of profit ("reality",
according to Marx, though we now know better) and prices that
correspond to "commodities being sold at their values", as assumed
in Capital up to this point.  "Intertemporal changes in profits
and prices" are of tangential relevance at best, and at worst a
smokescreen, a mess of intellectual squid-ink.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 31 2007 - 01:00:12 EDT