[OPE-L:2501] Re: Was Lenin a nondualist, supporter of the single-system vision

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Mon, 10 Jun 1996 07:38:56 -0700

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In reply to Gerry:

>> Saying that commodities in aggregate exchange at their values is vacuous
>> since it would still be true even if there was a zero correlation
>> between prices and values.
>It is a "vacuous" statement that *Marx* made, did ne not?

Not to my knowledge.

>> Chapter 1 of capital deals with exchange value and price.
>He doesn't deal with actual price determination for individual commodities
>in Ch. 1.. This is consistent with both his method and is evident by the
>assumptions made at that level of analysis.

The issue is whether relative prices are something he concerned himself
with. The whole of the first chapter is about relative prices.

>> The analysis of the production of surplus value is contingent upon there
>> being a positive correlation between prices and values.
>There doesn't have to be a precise correlation for all commodities.

You may be confusing correlation with correspondance here. One does not
normally speak of precise correlations, but of strong or weak correlations,
positive or negative correlations.

>> If one believes this, then the whole analysis of exploitation is
>> pointless.
>If one asserts that all commodities either sell at their value (or that
>there are only minor deviations), then one will have a very difficult
>time accounting for actual price determination.

Why do you think this?

>Moreover, any empirical
>analysis which studies price-value correspondence does not *by itself*
>tell us anything significant since a theoretical and historical analysis
>is required to give meaning to those numbers.

I agree that it would be of little interest to discover that prices and
labour inputs are strongly correlated were it not for the case that this
is what orthodox 'unreconstructed' marxism leads one to believe.

>Further, any statistical
>sample from an individual country can not be used to prove that a relation
>exists for all countries.

This is a fair point, one needs confirmation.
One should bear in mind however, that it is no longer a matter of one country's
data at one point in time. Results are available in the literature for
Jugoslavia, Italy, Britain, Mexico and the US. In the case of the US we
have data over a number of years. It may be that these countries are quite
unrepresentative - one could certainly say that of Jugoslavia, but it is
a pretty consistent body of evidence.

Paul Cockshott