Re: [OPE-L] Truncating Marx

From: David Laibman (dlaibman@SCIENCEANDSOCIETY.COM)
Date: Wed Sep 12 2007 - 12:11:28 EDT

This latest statement does clarify your position for me. I still, 
however, see a central difficulty in your claim to have a third option.
You are taking the position which I called the "retroactive" argument, 
in my *Science & Society* article (64:3, Fall 2000, p. 317). I cite Mage 
and Carchedi as proponents of this approach. To wit: Marx did not "fail" 
to transform the inputs; they are *already transformed* into prices of 
production, and so don't need to be transformed again. The problem with 
this is that it sees inputs and outputs as two separate classes of 
commodities. But to the extent that inputs (physical productive stocks: 
machines, raw materials) are also produced as commodities (with whatever 
turnover and depreciation periods; here I avoid that complicated 
thread), the industries in which they are produced will participate in 
the formation of the general rate of profit. Let me quote myself: "In 
the second transformation -- taking place as Marx described it with 
inputs 'already transformed' -- the general rate of profit that is 
formed will be different from any rate on the basis of which the *prior* 
transformation of inputs had taken place. The prices of inputs will have 
to change again, contrary to assumption." Note that Mage, Mino and Fred 
are proposing *two* transformations, while denying the third!
There simply seems to be no way around this. We can't have one rate of 
profit shaping the "given" (and therefore unchanging) prices of 
production of the elements of constant capital, and another rate of 
profit forming subsequently. There can't be one r for inputs, and 
another for outputs. This is not about what Marx said, or did. It is not 
about what any of us has said at one time or another. It is simply an 
inherent property of the capitalist production/value system that we are 
all trying to understand, and explain. There is either untheorized 
continual change, which Fred (I think rightly) rejects; or there is an 
iterative *convergent* process. The third option is not an option: it 
implicitly sets up two separate capitalist economies, side by side, with 
no reasonable story about how they relate to one another.
Jurriaan: I have printed your post on this, and will read it when I can 
and respond.
Best to all,

Fred Moseley wrote:
> Quoting David Laibman <dlaibman@SCIENCEANDSOCIETY.COM>:
>> Finally, I must agree with Ian and register a skeptical note
>> concerning Fred's attempt to distinguish between simultaneous and
>> (non-TSS) sequential value determination. If we tell the Vol. III, ch.
>> 9 story about pooling-and-redistribution of surplus value, we get the
>> constant elements of constant capital story that Fred elevates into
>> "Marx's method." But no matter what you call it, you must, I think,
>> confront the question: what happens next? After surplus value is
>> redistributed and production prices formed, the elements of constant
>> capital take on new values (based on the newly formed prices of
>> production). What now prevents *another* round of
>> pooling-and-redistribution from taking place? Again, you *either* have
>> to say, well, too much "time" has passed,.and things move on: technical
>> change, social change, etc. Then we are back into the empirical record,
>> untheorized. (Let's not worry about what the TSS-ers say; I dislike
>> textualism applied to Marx; even more so, to TSSI!) *Or* you let
>> temporal iterations of pooling-and-redistribution proceed, to a second
>> and third round and beyond, holding real-historical change in abeyance
>> by means of theory, and you have, in the limit, the much-maligned
>> simultaneous solution.
> No, David, you misunderstand my interpretation.
> I argue that constant capital is taken as given, as the actual quantity
> of money capital advanced to purchase means of production, assuming the
> economy is in equilibrium. And this actual equilibrium quantity of
> money constant capital is equal to the PRICE OF PRODUCTION of the means
> of production, not equal to the value of the means of production.
> Therefore, constant capital does not have to “take on a new value”
> after the distribution of surplus-value has taken place, because
> constant capital is already in terms of prices of production. Constant
> capital is equal to the actual equilibrium money capital invested,
> which is equal to the price of production of the means of production.
> This actual quantity of money constant capital is taken as given and
> becomes a “determining factor” in the determination of the prices of
> production of the output. This actual quantity of money constant
> capital can be taken as given because it already exists, prior to the
> production and sale of the output. It is “presupposed” “old” value, in
> contrast to the new value produced by living labor.
> So my interpretation does not result in either of your two options.
> There is a third option: assuming technology does not change, no
> further iterations are necessary. Prices of production as long-run
> center of gravity prices are completely determined by the first
> distribution of surplus-value.
> I hope this helps to clarify.
> Comradely,
> Fred
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