[OPE-L:936] Re: Agreements and Disputes

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Fri, 2 Feb 1996 21:41:55 -0800

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I continue to work through Alan's posts. This response is short.

Alan writes:

> What is disputed and what is agreed?

[Fast forward....]

> Question 1
> ==========
> Is there in Marx (Volume I) a derivation of *both* value *and*
> surplus value which is independent of the assumption of price-
> value equivalence?
> Remark 1
> ========
> If I understand Gil correctly, his contention is that there is
> not, and because of the errors in Marx's value analysis, there
> cannot be, such a derivation. Hence the need for an alternative
> ('historical-strategic') derivation of the category (and
> presumably magnitude) of exploitation.

This is not my argument. First, as stated in the previous post,
there is *no* necessary connection between the derivation of value
and the assumption of price-value equivalence.

Second, the substance of my argument is that Marx's conclusion in Ch.
5, to the effect that appropriation of surplus value implies a
condition which is isomorphic to a case in which price-value
equivalence holds, is both invalid and pernicious, in that it implies
a result which is inconsistent with Marx's historical analysis.

[Fast forward...]

> This adds further weight to (but is not the only argument for)
> the view I have always expressed, that the starting point for
> Gil's exposition of the historical-strategic account of
> capitalist exploitation should not be a rejection of anything
> to be found in Marx, but the real-world circumstances the
> account is intended to explain.

Indeed, the historical-strategic account I isolate, since it is
rooted in Marx's account, does begin from "real-world circumstances".
But this account is inconsistent with the conclusion of Marx's isomorphism
claim at the end of Ch. 5, since appropriation of surplus value via
circuits of capital prior to the capitalist mode of production
necessitated non-equivalence of commodity prices and values. Thus,
in affirming Marx's historical account, one must reject his Ch. 5

In just the same way, Marx argued that to carry forward Ricardo's
valid progress in value theory, one must reject his notion of "value
of labor", among other things; in order for Adam Smith to proceed, he
had to reject the Physiocrats' and mercantilists' claims about the
basis of value. Thus, I disagree with Alan's claim that...

> it is in general unproductive to start the exposition of any
> theory on the basis of the errors of another theory.

> I argue that Gil's (and anyone else's) exposition should begin
> from the features of reality he wants to explain and the
> positive elements of existing theory he wishes to use; the
> difficulties with existing theory should appear at the point
> where they become an obstacle, not as the logical basis of the
> theory.

And I've done just that, though perhaps not in the order Alan

> in any case, I think it can be shown that Gil's critique is
> invalid and founded on a misreading of Marx.

> And I shall try to show it.

Should be interesting. In solidarity, Gil