[OPE-L:2507] Re: Marx and Ricardo

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Mon, 10 Jun 1996 20:53:55 -0700

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Andrew asks in [OPE-L:2502]:

> (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].)

OK, I'll bite.

"But *Ricardo does not examine* the form - the peculiar characteristic of
labour that creates exchange-value or manifests itself in exchange-values
- the *nature* of this labour. Hence he does not grasp the connection of
*this labour* with *money* or that it must assume the form of *money*.
Hence he completely fails to grasp the connection between the determination
of the exchange-value of the commodity by labour-time and the fact that
the development of commodities necessarily leads to the formation of
money." (_TSV_, Part II, Progress, p. 164).

[By assuming that "workers live on air" and v=0 isn't the connection
between labor and money severed?]

Regarding Marx's method of abstraction (as opposed to Ricardo's),

"With Ricardo the one-sidedness arises also from the fact that in general
he wants to show that the various economic categories or relationships *do
not contradict the theory of value*, instead of on the contrary,
*developing* them together with their apparent contradictions out of this
basis or presenting the development of the basis itself" (Ibid, p. 150).

He goes on to explain this further in the following:

"Ricardo's method is as follows: He begins with the determination of the
magnitude of the value of the commodity by labour-time and then *examines*
whether the other economic relations and categories *contradict* the
determination of value or to what extent they modify it. The historical
justification of this method of procedure, its scientific necessity in the
history of economics, are evident at first sight, but so is, at the same
time, its scientific inadequacy. This inadequacy not only shows itself in
the method of presentation (in a formal sense) but leads to erroneous
results because it omits some essential links and *directly* seeks to
prove the congruity of the economic categories with one another" (Ibid, p.

[Isn't the above critique of Ricardo's method developed from the
standpoint of Marx's own (non-idealist) Hegelian method?]

In OPE-L Solidarity,