Re: [OPE-L] a paper on Marx's transformation problem and Ricardo's problem of an invariable measure of value

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Sun Aug 12 2007 - 08:58:58 EDT

--- Ian Wright <wrighti@ACM.ORG> wrote:

> > Can you explain what you mean here
> In any system of measurement the standard unit is
> "irreducible" in the
> sense that its measure in standard units is by
> definition 1 unit of
> itself. E.g., The length of 1 metre is 1 metre. This
> property is
> independent of how the standard unit is
> conventionally defined (say in
> terms of the distance travelled by a photon in a
> given period of
> time).
> A definition of labour-value is a method to measure
> the "difficulty of
> production" of commodities in amounts of labour. We
> take a commodity
> and look at all its physical inputs plus direct
> labour input. The
> direct labour input contributes to its labour-value.
> We then look at
> the physical inputs and their indirect labour
> inputs. The indirect
> labour input also contributes to the labour-value.
> And we continue,
> "vertically integrating", until all physical costs
> are reduced to a
> single scalar measure of amounts of labour inputs.
> But in this process of vertical integration we do
> not further reduce
> direct labour to its physical inputs, namely the
> real wage, and then
> additionally count the indirect labour costs
> embodied in the real
> wage. Why? Because the standard unit is irreducible:
> 1 unit of direct
> labour by definition is 1 unit of labour-value. The
> question, "What is
> the labour-value of 1 unit of direct labour?", is
> equivalent to the
> question, "What is the length of 1 metre in metres?"
> The process of
> vertical integration stops at the point of reduction
> to quantities of
> labour supplied. It makes no sense to further
> reduce.
> This property of "irreducibility" holds for both the
> standard and
> nonstandard definitions of labour-value. It is a
> necessary property of
> any well-formed definition of labour-value. If we
> then interpret the
> series representation of these definitions in terms
> of a dated
> representation it entails that workers do not
> consume the real wage
> during the process of replacement.
Ian, I'm sorry I did not have time yet to read your
paper or even follow your discussions with Paul C
consistently, but I will make two points briefly on
what you say above:
(1) Your labor-value is a defined category as a
measure of difficulty of producing something in terms
of its direct and indirect labor content. I think
that's how it should be, but then the question of "a
theory of labor-value" has no meaning.
(2) The dated labor approach is not designed to
calculate labor-values--labor-values are calculated
exactly the way you do above. The dated labor approach
is to determine what Marx would call prices of
production. It is simply another way of showing that
if you have information to calculate labor-values then
with additional information of the rate of profit you
can calculate prices of production. This method works
in single commodity production systems only, it cannot
be applied in multiple commodity production systems,
which is the general case--and Marxists should stop
keeping their eyes closed to the problems of
labor-value in multiple production cases. Sraffa's
dated labor approach had only negative purpose--to
show that all the methods to aggregate capital
independently of the rate of profits will come to
naught. Cheers, ajit sinha

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