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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Mon Aug 13 2007 - 19:38:52 EDT

> Surely all you have to do is say that for now we are taking X to be a primitive
> input when computing the X content of all other goods, whether X is labour
> or oil. It does not imply that workers do not consume a real wage or that
> real resources are not used to produce oil.

Agreed. The irreducibility of the chosen real-cost basis, such as
labour, does not imply that workers are not currently consuming the
real wage or that real resources are not used-up to reproduce workers.

But when we interpret the series expansion of standard labour-values
as denoting a dated process of replacement, in which each term of the
series occurs further and further into the past, then irreducibility
implies that workers are not consuming the real wage during this
"hypothetical process of replacement". This is how irreducibility
manifests under this interpretation.

This interpretation helps us to understand why the standard definition
of labour-value:
- (i) correctly does not reduce worker consumption to its labour-cost, but
- (ii) incorrectly does not reduce capitalist consumption to its labour-cost.

(i) is a necessary property of any well-formed definition of
labour-value due to irreducibility. Both standard and nonstandard
labour-values share this property. But (ii) is not a necessary
property. It is equivalent to not reducing the commodity money-capital
to its labour-cost. But the reduction can be done, which yields
nonstandard labour-values.

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