[OPE-L:2568] surplus-value and relative prices

Fred Moseley (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 12:43:31 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

This is a response to Paul C.'s (2531) on the necessity of a theory of
relative prices for Marx's theory of surplus-value. Paul, thanks for your

Paul wrote:

For any interpretation of Marx that you make to be consistent with
the fact that only a small proportion of commodities are sold at a loss,
you have to assume that the distribution of prices around values is
reasonably tight.

I do not see why this is true. Consider the following:

1. Assume a wide distribution of compositions of capital across industries.

2. Assume prices of production which equalize rates of profit (as in Marx's
theory). These prices of production will not necessarily have a tight
distribution around values (one can always choose compositions of capital
that generate wider distributions of prices around values).

3. However, since all capitals receive the general rate of profit, no
commodities are sold at a loss.

Therefore, it is not necessary to assume a close correlation between prices
and values in order to be consistent with no commodities selling at a loss.
It seems to me that Marx's theory of surplus-value can be interpreted on an
aggregate level, as I and others have done, and that this theory does not
depend in any way on a close correlation between individual prices and
values. This theory depends only on the assumption that the aggregate
new-value (in money terms) produced is proportional to the aggregate current
labor and that this aggregate new-value is greater than the aggregate
money-wages paid to current labor.