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

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Tue Mar 27 2007 - 14:57:34 EDT

Let's focus on the core of the problem. Many people tend to think of values
as quantities of labour, and of prices of production as quantities of money.
My first proposal is to look at the quantitative dimension of this
relationship: we can define both of them as quantities of labour as well as
quantities of money. The passing from one measure to the other is done
through the melt (monetary expression of labour time), which is simply the
quotient between the aggregate monetary value-added and the sum of direct

One of Marx's main ideas is interesting for us too: capital pursues to
expand itself as fast as possible. We start from a definite amount of
capital at the origin, not defined as the product of quantities of
commodities by their prices but as something prior coming from the primitive
accumulation of capital: a quantity of money that is going to create for the
first time capitalist prices through the use of wage-labour for the first
time too. After this, the accumulation of capital will keep going on a
capitalist basis.

What it is so in historical terms is also the same in logical terms at
present. It is wage labour the source of surplus-labour as surplus-value and
profit. Making others to work is the way capital gets its values and
profits. Labour is the dynamic force in the process; the rest is static. To
confound this due to the fact that the machines are moving and instead of
still is childish. In the capitalist mode of production all has a price and
this phenomenon is due to the existence and operation of living wage-labour.

I disagree with Fred in this: individual prices are for me as important as
global prices. Capitalism is not just a question of exploitation but also of
competition, and the competition war is mainly made through individual
prices. But it is a fact that Marx, when analyzing a single process of
production, deals-and I think we should do the same- with the individual
price of the outputs whereas treats the price of the inputs as equal for all
competitors in the branch. He is looking at the dynamic process of expending
labour (in certain conditions of intensity, organization, duration of the
working-say.) and this is why he takes as given the price of the inputs.

However, the latter doesn't mean that the prices of the inputs are different
from the prices of the outputs (or if you prefer, it doesn't mean that their
labour-values are different). To the contrary, they are and have to be the
same. When some weeks ago I wrote that the prices of the inputs are taken as
given, I meant the same as I mean now: the expenses of capital have to be
taken as an 'indifferentiated' sum of money (which is a sum of labour, don't
forget it) whereas the individual prices of the outputs are important also
as 'differentiated' magnitudes. This is the basis for a correct
understanding of the problem, and it is here where all interpretations
stumble: the canonical, the NI, the TSS and also Fred's.

Please, don't divert the discussion towards secondary aspects. Do you agree
or not with the main points?



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