[OPE-L:160] Re: Artistic whole?

James Devine (JDevine@lmumail.lmu.edu)
Wed, 27 Sep 1995 16:38:32 -0700

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Michael P writes:>>I would half way agree with Jim Devine about Marx using a
"representative firm." The disagreement comes with regard to constant
capital, a particular interest of mine.

>>In terms of a representive firm image, we can multiply by n-firms to get
the whole economy. In a representative firm, all purchased reproduced
inputs are dead labor, or what marx termed antecedent labor.

>>When we look at the economy as a whole, we see a representation of
co-existing labor, where intermediate goods producers and final goods
producers work side by side.<<

I generally agree with Michael. When one deals with the economy as a
whole, one has to use the concept of "value added" (V + S) for
aggregation, to avoid double-counting. Marx, in my reading, was conscious
of this issue (and of double-counting) but did not emphasize it enough,
so that until recently discussions of the "transformation problem" fell
into double-counting traps (as did USSR-style national income

For the economy as a whole, we definitely see "a representation of
co-existing labor," except that there is also fixed capital, which
represents dead labor. (This, of course, gets us into problems of the
valuation of fixed capital.)

Also, I don't think that Marx dealt completely with the limitations of
the use of the concept of the "representative capitalist." (Neoclassicals
are struggling with this problem to this day.) To my mind, the whole
issue of the so-called "transformation problem" of K3 is that of going
from the representative capitalist and his/her exploitation of workers to
the real world of heterogeneous and competing capitalists, a sort of
disaggregation problem.

in ope-l solidarity,

Jim Devine jdevine@lmumail.lmu.edu
Econ. Dept., Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles, CA 90045-2699 USA
310/338-2948 (daytime, during workweek); FAX: 310/338-1950
"Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti." (Go your own way
and let people talk.) -- K. Marx, paraphrasing Dante A.