Re: [OPE] devaluation and revaluation of variable capital

From: Alejandro Agafonow (
Date: Sun Feb 10 2008 - 05:18:09 EST

Dear Jurriaan:
I have the impression that you are also a victim of the second Pandora’s Box. If you reject the assumption that (1) market prices are determined for production prices or natural prices in the long run and instead you take refuge in (2) the relative price of current gross product, you wouldn’t be able to postulate and explain a mechanism that reacts to different time, place and quality circumstances that in fact determine production in large economies. You can’t reject the first thesis and take refuge in the second; you can’t be an a half Marxist and accept only an a half LTV.
Your argument revels the classical Marxist reductionism that impeded you during more than a century offer a feasible economic model. Insofar there are billions of subjective single preferences we can postulate a regulative principle that, until my knowledge goes, among Marxists only C&C have adopted –even though without asserting its marginalist character. This principle is that of the allocation of millions of commodities that react to different circumstances of time, place and quality, according to the special circumstances that determine relative scarcities (preferences yes, but also available quantities, the duration of productive cycles and the structure of property rights in force).
Only in this way is possible to make out a mechanism capable of the allocation of resources with a precision of marginal utilities. Your half Marxist current gross product is unable to do this; is unable to calculate.
Yours respectfully,
Alejandro Agafonow

----- Mensaje original ----
De: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
Enviado: sábado, 9 de febrero, 2008 23:12:20
Asunto: [OPE] devaluation and revaluation of variable capital

I think perhaps two points are pertinent.
1) Marx (in contrast to many Marxists) never said that the law of value governed all prices or all assets, or even all labour. What he said is that it governs the relative prices of the current gross output of new reproducible goods and services sold in the market. At best you can say that the current market value, or current replacement cost of reproducible commodities, influences the prices of other goods, services and assets being traded. If for example I buy a new car at the current normal price of $20,000, I am unlikely to resell it for $500, although in principle I could do so if I want to get rid of it quickly.
2) If you reject the hypothesis that the current production of reproducible commodities is governed by the law of value, then you have to explain what regulates the relative prices of those commodities. Why does a car always cost vastly more than a bunch of carrots, for example? What explains the cost structure and price structure of outputs? If this is not ultimately due to production costs, which reduce to quantities of human labour time required to make products, what then regulates relative prices?
If I apply Austrian economics, all I can say is that the intensity of subjective preference determines price relativities. But insofar as there are billions of unique subjective preferences, I cannot stipulate any regulative principle at all. All I can say is, that as a matter of fact, the intensity of subjective preference for cars was consistently such that cars sell for more money than a bunch of carrots. That preference could change tomorrow, and therefore there is no "law" which applies. At best I could attempt a sociology of human valuations, some of which empirically appear to show historical continuity, while others can change in an instant. 

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