[OPE-L:3435] Re: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions

John Ernst (ernst@usa.pipeline.com)
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 15:43:06 -0700 (PDT)

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It seems to be if we are to get beyond the sound and
fury of the v=0 bit, we may find it useful to start
with Jerry's statement in OPE-L 3xxx.

Jerry said:

The assumption of v = 0 is *more than* a simplifying assumption. As
we have seen, it is also a claim about the category of wage-labour and
relates to other categories as well such as commodities, money, markets,
prices, profit, etc..

John says:

I have seen no one make any "claims" about the category of
wage-labour as they assume v to be very,very,very small or
gone one step further and said v=0. My reaction to all
the talk about this assumption is -- "So what?" That is,
the focus of the discussion has been the valuation of
constant capital. People had and still do have different
views. Those of us within the discussion made the
assumption not because we were dismissing the category of
wage-labour but rather so that we could "search for
clarity." To some extent, we've done that. No doubt
more is to be done. By assuming that v > 0 or, to be
absurd, v < 0, do any of the positions concerning the
valuation of constant capital change? Are any of them
completely useless? In other words, to show that the
assumption is somehow invalid one has to show how it
affects the arguments or positions involved.

More to the point, it might be interesting to ask to those
who would revalue consumed constant capital because of
increases in productivity if they would do the same to
variable capital? That is, if a capitalist agrees to pay
a worker x dollars before production begins, does he then
change the bargain after the product is produced because of
falling output prices? Here, perhaps, we see that it may
be useful to consider v > 0; but I, for one, learned a
lot when we assumed it was very, very small or, indeed, when
it was assumed to be negligible or zero itself.

Still searching for clarity,