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: Thu Aug 16 2007 - 12:23:05 EDT

> I don't know what you mean by the standard *formula*.
> There is no mathematical formula in Adam Smith or
> Ricardo.

Yes I know. At some point authors translated the classical statements
regarding the calculation of labour-values into the standard formula
for labour-values,
which is used in modern mathematical critiques of the logical
possibility of a LTV. Much of the neo-Ricardian/Sraffa-inspired attack
on the LTV gains its credibility by being cast in terms of linear
production theory. When did this mathematical *translation* of the
classical definition of labour-value first take place?

> Adam Smith's example of beaver and deer
> exchange in that rude state of civilization is well
> know. Of course, Malthus did not believe in this
> proposition--he maintained that value was determined
> by demand and supply forces and cost of production was
> subordinate to it in every circumstances. Say also
> believed that it was demand and utility that regulated
> value. But both of them are more Smithean in
> opposition to Ricardo. Ricardo also did not maintain
> that relative labor content of commodities determined
> their relative values--this is a general
> misunderstanding of Ricardo (my own reading of
> Ricardo's theory which is different from Sraffa's will
> be presented in my book).

I agree that Ricardo is very clear that there is a contradiction
between absolute value and relative value. I also think that Sraffa's
reading of Ricardo has its problems.

> Same goes with Marx.

Marx clearly maintained, contra Ricardo, that labour-values determine
prices, although the determination is via global conservation
constraints, rather than direct price-value proportionality.

> Among the early economists it was McCulloch and to some
> extent James Mill who held, what now a days is known
> as 'labor theory of value'. Ricardo told McCulloch
> that he did not agree with such a proposition and
> interestingly Marx had a poor opinion of McCulloch. So
> I do not know who people are defending when they are
> supposedly defending the 'labor theory of value'.

Ricardo and Marx, without a shadow of a doubt, held a labour theory of
value. Of course there are important nuances, but the family
resemblances are as clear as day. I cannot imagine how one could think

Best wishes,

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