From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 07 2007 - 12:13:07 EDT
>Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>: > >>2. Given Marx's emphasis on regular changes in prices of production, he >>would not have thought that the prices of production which governed the >>prices of the inputs could have been the same as the prices of production >>which he derives for the outputs. So even if one thinks Marx left the >>inputs in the form of values or simple prices, there is no evidence that >>he was calling for a vector of equilibrium prices in the specific sense of >>same prices for the inputs and outputs. Indeed the chapter as a whole >>indicates that Marx would have rejected the equilibrium idea that prices >>of production do not change interperiodically. To judge Marx on the >>neoclassical equilibrium terrain is to impose foreign standards on him, >>not to judge him on his own terms. Marx cannot be said to have called for >>the neoclassical equilibrium test which he then fails. But that is how it >>is presented in almost every account of Marxian economics. Take Heinz >>Kurz's entry on value in The Radical Political Economy entry, ed. by >>Malcolm Saywer as just one of countless examples. Some radical political >>economy! Though that point of view is vociferously defended on this list; >>unfortunately I have been disallowed with the AC's approval from replying >>directly. > >Hi Rakesh, > >Which passages in particular in Chapter 9 do you think indicate that >Marx was assuming continuous changes in values in each industry, period >after period? > >It seems to me that in these few pages at the end of Chapter 9 Marx is >making the theoretical point that, even though prices of production are >not proportional to values, prices of production are nonetheless >ultimately determined by values, and that changes in prices of >production are ultimately caused by changes in values, either in the >given industry or in industries that produce means of production for >this industry. I donít see any suggestion that he is assuming that >such changes of values happen continuously, period after period, in >each industry. Right but Marx emphasizes here that prices of production do not always change in the long term. But let me take the undisputed point first. The fact that the average rate of profit only changes in the long term actively misleads capitalists as to what the consequences of productivity growth are in those branches undergoing at any time the most explosive growth. In other words, the type of thought typical of active capitalists does not allow them to penetrate beyond the appearances to the essences of modern society, for a grasp of the whole is the condition of knowledge, and this is simply incompatible with rationality in the form of rationalization concerned only with the maximization of profits (I draw here from Rockmore's summary of Lukacs). So here is a crucial paragraph from this ninth chapter in terms of Marx's holistic epistemology, i.e. the idea that a grasp of the whole is the condition of knowledge and that capitalists are constitutively incapable of such grasp though the kind of rationality we have is shaped by their narrow interests: The theoretical conception concerning the first transformation of surplus-value into profit, that every part of a capital yields a uniform profit, expresses a practical fact. Whatever the composition of an industrial capital, whether it sets in motion one quarter of congealed labour and three-quarters of living labour, or three-quarters of congealed labour and one-quarter of living labour, whether in one case it absorbs three times as much surplus-labour, or produces three times as much surplus-value than in another - in either case it yields the same profit, given the same degree of labour exploitation and leaving aside individual differences, which, incidentally, disappear because we are dealing in both cases with the average composition of the entire sphere of production. The individual capitalist (or all the capitalists in each individual sphere of production), whose outlook is limited, rightly believes that his profit is not derived solely from the labour employed by him, or in his line of production. This is quite true, as far as his average profit is concerned. To what extent this profit is due to the aggregate exploitation of labour on the part of the total social capital, i. e., by all his capitalist colleagues - this interrelation is a complete mystery to the individual capitalist; all the more so, since no bourgeois theorists, the political economists, have so far revealed it. A saving of labour - not only labour necessary to produce a certain product, but also the number of employed labourers - and the employment of more congealed labour (constant capital), appear to be very sound operations from the economic standpoint and do not seem to exert the least influence on the general rate of profit and the average profit. How could living labour be the sole source of profit, in view of the fact that a reduction in the quantity of labour required for production appears not to exert any influence on profit? Moreover, it even seems in certain circumstances to be the nearest source of an increase of profits, at least for the individual capitalist. The philosophical significance of this chapter is rather breath-taking once one understands Marx's views of holistic epistemology (and the implicit critique of the capitalist perversion of rationality) and real contradiction (the contradiction between the law of value and the equalization of the profit rate as a real contradiction of generalized commodity capitalist production, a real contradiction between social production and private profit resulting in the mediation of the price of production which raises the class struggle to a social level). Most of the readings we have of the transformation problem are quite flat footed as if the problem were well understood as as a problem of algebra. Now to where we disagree. In terms less than required for depressions in the average rate of profit to register, we should assume that the change in pop was occasioned not by a change in the general rate of profit but by a change in the value of the commodity itself, and since the value of the commodity can change in consequence of technical changes within its own sphere as well as in consequence of a change in the value of those commodities which form the elements of its constant capital, unit values will likely tend to change before, say, the means of production have been amortized or scrapped. That is, for the prices of production to change, there need not be ceaseless productivity growth in its own branch but only in one of the branches producing its means of production. This makes it likely that reductions in unit value are quite frequent. Moreover, when, how often and as a result of what do you think prices of production change? Importantly, RIcardo himself thought that unit values were changing very regularly as I have shown and Ricardo of course had not yet assimilated the consequences of large scale industry. Rakesh ps sorry not to have replied to Dogan's question about my own query about Althusser's critique of Hegel. I of course had the essays in For Marx in mind, but there are other important essays as well. And it will take me time. > >Thanks. > >Comradely, >Fred > > >---------------------------------------------------------------- >This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
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