[OPE-L:2502] Re: Marx and Ricardo

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Mon, 10 Jun 1996 09:16:55 -0700

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A response to one point in Allin's ope-l 2494:

Allin writes:

"Even where the deviations [of exchange-value from value] were systematic
... , Ricardo held that this was a second-order effect .... If Marx believed
that Ricardo had been wrong on this, we can be sure he would have said so;
but he never did."

Comment: it depends on what Allin means by "second-order effect." If it
means "an exception," then Marx did criticize it, in the TSV, right when
he begins to go into Ric's value theory. Marx supports Malthus vs.
Ricardo here, saying that the deviations that Ric calls exceptions are in
fact the rule.

Moreover, and far more importantly, a *major* criticism of Ric's value theory
that Marx makes is that Ric confuses and wrongly identifies value and
natural price (called "cost-price" in the TSV). In the same section which
I alluded to above, Marx says that, contrary to what the vulgar mob says,
Ric is not too abstract, he is not abstract enough. (Aside to Jerry: please
note how this relates to our discussion of abstraction and zero wages; Marx
begins his analysis of capitalist production by assuming that commodities
exchange at values, even though capitalism could not exist if this were the
case, as he points out [where, I forget].) That is, he identifies the
law (of value) with phenomena that contradict it (i.e. actual prices and
profits). He says the same thing in Vol. I of _Capital_, in Ch. 11 if I

That's not all: in Marx's view, the "Ricardian school" disintegrated largely
because it was unable to resolve the problem of price/value differences.
Marx shows agian and again that the minor post-Ricardians :-) tried to
resolve the problem through verbal subterfuge, i.e., evade it.

Andrew Kliman