[OPE-L:2572] Re: multiple periods?

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Wed, 26 Jun 1996 08:00:39 -0700 (PDT)

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Fred wrote:
> period. >As long as technology remaines constant, the equalization of
profit > rates in subsequent periods would still result in the same prices
of > production and rate of profit. There is never a hint in all of
Marx's > writings that that the transformation process takes place over
multiple > periods, or that the prices of production which are determined
in his > illustrations would change further in subsequent periods as a
result of the > transformation process alone.

Michael P. responds:

Here is a key hang up. Marx calls constant capital constant in contrast to
variable. Yet he goes into long detail about how constant capital is not
"constant" with respect to other forces. This is comparable to the Gil
phenomenon: You can find all sorts of exploitation, just as the identity
politics people argued in the 70s. Marx need not deny these other
exploitations, but he wants to focus on the central exploitation vis a
vis class.

Marx has good reason to avoid dealing with multiperiod phenomena. He
wants to make his case that exploitation exists with exchange of equal

Yet when he extends his project to deal with the FRP, we need multiperiods.
No one thinks that the rate of profit will fall within one period. You
need at least 2 periods to make a comparison.

I have argued in a RRPE article and in a book, that much of Marx's
analysis of the FRP was influenced by 2 practical concerns: the cotton
crisis in England and the rise of Lassalle in Germany. Most of his
examples of rising constant capital revolve around changes in cotton prices.
To deal with that directly would lend support to Lassalle's
Malthusian-marxism. I think that he purposely left the matter cloudy,
even in his unpublished notebooks.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 916-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu