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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Mar 31 2007 - 15:30:14 EDT

Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>:

> I think you are putting an unnecessary burden on yourself by arguing
> that the prices you derive had to have been the same prices which
> roughly determined the market prices of the mop and mos bought with
> the initial M. It's not that I believe that Marx is transforming
> prices into prices. He's deriving new prices of production from the
> initial M based on whatever the prices of production in the previous
> period were. Indeed the transformation chapter dwells on length not
> on equilibrium prices of production but on the causes of their change
> over time!  So Marx's analysis of the transformation is not simply
> logical and timeless and static as Allin has suggested.
> Moreover, we have to begin with the price data and infer values from
> that. So I agree with taking M as a given precondition, not unknown
> values or modal techniques of production. The unknowns are not the
> prices or even the average rate of profit but the value transferred,
> the rate of surplus value. It could not be otherwise in a fetishistic
> economy.
> If you drop the neoclassical equilibrium assumption, then I agree
> with your monetary macro sequential method.

Hi Rakesh,

Thanks for your response of last Monday,  After a very busy week, I
have some time to respond.

I don’t understand your objection.  Prices of production are by
definition prices with equal rates of profit.  You agree with that,
don’t you?  That is what I mean by equilibrium prices:  prices with
equal rates of profit.  Therefore, by this definition, prices of
production are equilibrium prices.

You are right that Marx does devote 4-5 pages at the end of Chapter 9
to a discussion of CHANGES in prices of production.  However, this is
after 11-12 pages in which Marx discussed the determination of prices
of production, prior to any changes.  That is the first stage of Marx’s
theory of prices of production.  After that, comes the second stage –
the analysis of changes of prices of production.

Furthermore, Marx emphasis in these pages is that prices of production
change IF AND ONLY IF the values of commodities change, either in final
goods industries, or in industries that produce means of production.
You seem to have in mind a situation in which prices of production
change from period to period, because input prices are not equal to
output prices, even though the values of commodities remain the same.

Do I understand you correctly?  If so, then I think it is clear that
this interpretation is contradicted by Marx’s emphasis that prices of
production change only if the values of commodities change.  On the
other hand, if I misunderstand you, and you agree that prices of
production change only if the values of commodities change, then we
would seem to be in agreement.  But these prices of production (that
change only if the values of commodities change) assume equal rates of
profit, and therefore are equilibrium prices.

I look forward to your reply and to further discussion.


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