[OPE-L:323] Re: INTERIM PROPOSAL [951021]

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Tue, 24 Oct 1995 03:50:27 -0700

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This type of empirical result is extremely interesting, but I don't think
it could bear on the transformation problem issues, which are
definitional. If they hold up, they suggest something about the form of
competition in contemporary capitalism, I think.

This is not good enough.

The transformation problem is only posed as a problem because it
has been assumed that in the reality of capitalism there was a tendancy
for the rate of profit to equalise and for capitals of different
organic composition to earn the same rate of profit. If the hypothesis
turns out to have been mistaken, then there is no 'problem', we
can just stick with the VOl I theory of value.

I must admit that I find the results surprising, and would like to
see them replicated, but if they are generally valid - apply to
other capitalist countries, then the transformation problem
becomes a mathematical debate about counter-factuals. One can
of course define it as a mathematical problem which would exist
were the equalisation of profit rates to exists, but it ceases
to be a problem about political economy. It would be no more a
real problem than other hypothetical transformations that one
could postulate - for instance that profits were distributed
proportionately to the energy content of commodities.