[OPE-L:382] Re: Chaion Lee's Short Question

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Tue, 31 Oct 1995 13:42:12 -0800

[ show plain text ]

Gil says

My point was that given this definition of SNLT and Marx's "pure"
case of simple commodity circulation, in which all commodities
exchange at their values, Marx's characterization is *fundamentally*
ambiguous, in fact self-contradictory. I have argued, and Paul
apparently does not now dispute, that in the general case a given
average of SNLT will self-destruct through liquidation of firms at
the (high-cost) margin; this process of self-unravelling may
continue until the relevant industry is turned into a single-firm

Surely this is not what Marx meant to suggest in defining value as he
did. One can find substantive grounds in Marx for the sorts of
phenomena Paul refers to.

There is a contradiction here but it is a real dialectic not
a logical problem. The process of competition is dynamic, and
the exchange of commodities at their values will necessarily,
according to Marx's argument in the section of capital on relative
surplus value, involve high cost firms being forced out of
business. There is no equilibrium theory of value in Marx,
the value of a commodity is something dynamic which changes over
time, generally in a downward direction. And yes, it does tend
to lead to a concentration of production in fewer and fewer
capitals. But these are all explicit consequences that Marx
draws out.

High cost producers have no special right to prices that enable
them to stay in production.

Besides, would not the effect of assuming marginal rather than
average values determining prices simply mean a general rise in
the price level of all commodities including gold, and hence no
determinate effect at all?
So I dont see that the proposition of marginal values would even
be internally self consistent.