[OPE-L:2283] Re: Measuring value

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Sat, 18 May 1996 17:33:59 -0700

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Michael W. wrote:

> It does seem that some of the doggedness with which a measurable labour theory
> of value is pursued in the Post-Steedman literature has to do with the wish to
> defend the political importance of Marx's account of exploitation of
> wage-workers under capitalism.

Yes, you are correct here.

>But other approaches (congruent with alternative
> interpretations, reconstructions and developments of Marx's work - for me the
> R&W version of the Value-form approach) can and do offer arguments for the
> crucial role of labour as the sole necessary source of new value in capitalist
> commodity production, the systemic necessity of the appropriation and control of
> surplus value by capital, etc.. These do not depend on the quantitative
> determination of anything but what clearly is quantitatively determined - the
> wage, commodity prices, etc.

Here I disagree. The depreciation problem extends to the seemingly
quantative price system

Now let me turn to John Ernst's response to my post. I appreciate his humor
about my spelling of "speeds" as "seeds".

I did not quite understand his conclusion, that instantaneous adjustment
models can work.

Let me make my own position clear for what it is worth. We can fall into
the trap of refining our models a la neo-classical economics. But that
effort will not do us any good.

The use of the models is to help us make a qualitative point. For example,
on the levels of prices, exploitation does not exist -- at least as most
economists see it. If I work 8 hours and get 8 hours of wages, everything
is fair. Value theory lets us understand the roots of exploitation.
Whether 4.56 or 4.59 hours of my labor is surplus value is something we
can quibble about, but it will not get us far.

We need our models to help us understand and to communicate.

Maybe I am wrong, and competition makes the adjustment process occur
quickly. Good, we can talk about it. The answer to that question will help
us to understand how the system works.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 916-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu