[OPE-L:1028] Re: Definitions and Tautologies

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Fri, 9 Feb 1996 15:02:52 -0800

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Andrew writes:

> In ope-l 1025, Paul C wrote:
> "one should not be defining values as in any way dependent upon prices or
> upon circulation. Values are logically prior to prices[;] if we allow
> price into a definition of value, we no longer have a labour theory of
> value, just a price theory of price."
> But *why* should values be totally independent of *past* prices and
> distribution of value? According to whom are they totally independent?

Sorry to be a pest about this, Andrew, but according to *Marx*, in the
passages I've cited from Volume I. If values are expressed as
dependent on prices, even past prices, then it won't be the case in
general that "commodities which contain equal quantities of labour,
or which can be produced in the same time, have therefore the same
value", since two commodities with different vectors of input
commodities will in general have different values even if they can be
produced in the same time. Second, it won't in general be the case
that "the value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, if
the labour-time required for its production also remained constant",
since p(t)*A(t) can vary arbitrarily over time with changes in demand
conditions, even if the labor time required for the production of the
commodity remained constant.

Note that the stipulation that *total* values = *total* prices
doesn't change these conclusions about *individual* commodity values
in the TSS system, so your previous post doesn't alter anything, no
matter what Marx "strongly implies".

Tell you what: demonstrate that the above conclusions are false, and
I'll shut up about this.

In solidarity, Gil Skillman