[OPE-L:1157] Re: does price affect value

Duncan K Foley (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 11:49:52 -0800

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On Tue, 20 Feb 1996, Allin Cottrell wrote:

> Duncan [960220] puts his case well, and fairly. But I'd like to see him
> expand on one point.
> > Where the "traditional" (Bortkiewicz, Seton,
> > Morishima, Roemer) interpretation gets off the track, it seems to me, is
> > in maintaining the embodied labor coefficient interpretation of "value"
> > and as a result throwing out a good deal of Marx's political economic
> > analysis.
> What is it of Marx's political economic analysis that has to be thrown out
> given the embodied labour coefficient interpretation of value?
> Allin.
At a theoretical level you run into the types of puzzles Ian Steedman has
put forward: with joint production, "surplus value" measured in embodied
labor may be negative when profit is positive.

Even in the no-joint-production case where a unique imputation of labor
time to individual commodities is possible, you lose the quantitative
connection between surplus value and accounting profit if you maintain
the definition of the value of labor-power as the labor embodied in the
commodities workers consume, and have to retreat to something like
Morishima's Fundamental Theorem, which is vulnerable to Samuelson's

At an empirical level, you lose the immediate connection between the
Marxian categories, say surplus value and variable capital, and aggregate
economic statistics.

I think Marx saw a much closer connection between his theoretical
categories and the surface phenomena of capitalist reality than a strict
embodied labor view of value will sustain.

Perhaps it would also be useful to turn the question around. What
insights into the social relations of capitalism does the embodied labor
coefficient interpretation facilitate or support? I don't intend this to
be a rhetorical question, and am honestly interested in the views of the
list on it.


> >