[OPE-L:1959] Re: "actually existing capitalism"

Steve.Keen@unsw.EDU.AU (Steve.Keen@unsw.EDU.AU)
Thu, 25 Apr 1996 13:43:40 -0700

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Gil's [#1917] response to Fred on value provides a useful
intro for my perspective on this issue and others. In arguing
that Marx stipulated "price-value equivalence" in order to
explain the source of profit, Gil cites the following from

|"To explain, therefore, the *general nature
|of profits*, you must start from the theorem that, on an average,
|commodities are *sold at their real values*, and that *profits are
|derived from selling them at their values*, that is, in proportion to
|the quantity of labour realised in them. **If you cannot explain
|profit upon this supposition, you cannot explain it at all.**"

My perspective is that Gil is quite correct to say that this is
an incorrect result, but that it is nonetheless a valid
methodological precept. That is, there are two classes of
explanations of profit: one of above-value and below-value
exchanges between classes, the other of exchanges at value
from which, nonetheless, profit is derived. Marx invalidly
rules out the first (by showing that the capitalist class as
a whole cannot defraud itself), but whether this is invalid
or not, it is still valid for him to proceed on the basis of
the second approach.

My difference with most Marxists is my interpretation of how
Marx made this case (and the validity of essential components
of it). Taking Paul's reply long ago to Jerry/Chai-on:

|Jerry raised a question, " how do *you* define value? ".
|My definition: (Paul Cockshott)
|1. The value of a product is the portion of society's labour
| needed to reproduce it. <snip>,

I have found that most Marxists take something like this as
their starting point: a definition of value, from which it
results that the only source of surplus value is the
difference between labor and labor-power.

Now I note that Fred (in the post to which Gil responded)
cited the work of Rosdolsky. One of the most powerful points
in that work was that Marxists have ignored the role of
use-value in Marx's logic, and that properly acknowledging
that role would radically alter the accepted view of Marx's
value theory [pardon the paraphrase, but I haven't got access
to my notes at present].

My interpretation of Marx is based on precisely that issue.
I argue that Marx's theory of value (post-Grundrisse) was
based on the concept of the dialectical contradiction between
exchange-value and use-value, and that radically different
results on value theory occur if this logic is properly
followed through.

But there's little point in me elaborating that perspective
if no-one else on this list shares the starting point. So
first a question. I believe that the definition Paul gives
(above) was, in Capital I, derived from the analysis of
exchange-value and use-value as it applies to labor. How many
others on OPE agree with me?

Steve Keen