[OPE-L:2504] Re: Marx and Ricardo

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Mon, 10 Jun 1996 10:57:02 -0700

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On Mon, 10 Jun 1996 Andrew wrote, a propos my [2494]:

> "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.

No, I don't think of a "second-order effect" and an "exception" as being
synonymous. So far as I'm aware, in the Principles Ricardo does not
speak of the effects of profit-rate equalization as constituting an
"exception". He says this "modifies" the "principle that the quantity
of labour bestowed on the production of commodities regulates their
exchangeable value", but goes on to say that "this cause of the
variation of commodities is comparatively slight in its effects", which
is what I meant by second-order.

> 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).

I'm not sure that criticism is fair. "Value", itself, is a term of art
of Marx's theory, not Ricardo's. Or rather, Ricardo typically uses
"value" as a shorthand for "exchangeable value". For Ricardo, natural
price includes the effect of profit-rate equalization, and therefore
does not correspond exactly with "quantity of labour bestowed" (he's
clear on this). On the other hand, QLB is there is the background as the
prime cause of variation in the value of commodities. I'm not clear on
exactly what Ricardo is supposed to have confused.