[OPE-L:3585] [Alejandro Ramos] Evidence for the "single-system" interpretation

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sun, 3 Nov 1996 15:19:31 -0800 (PST)

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The following is a revised and expanded version of the message by Alejandro
Ramos that I posted as ope-l 3580. It is obviously too late to delete the
message I already posted, as Alejandro requested. ---Andrew Kliman


Dear Andrew:

* The following is almost the same message I sent to you
yesterday but it contains some corrections and two (I think)
important additions. So, the better thing you can do, is to
delete the message of Nov. 1 and to conserve this.

** If you consider that this (or some parts of this) is relevant
for OPE-L, I will be very happy if you post it there. In this
case, I ask you to correct my deficient personal usage of English
language (only the worst errors, of course).

Alejandro, 2.11.96
Dear Andrew:

Thank you for including my letter in your OPE-L post of Nov. 1. I
have been re-checking the whole thing of Ch. 9 and it seems that
it is a little bit more complex than my original message

(I) What we have in MEGA, Section II, Vol. 4.2 (Published in
1992) is only the "main manuscript" of Vol. III, written between
Summer 1864 and December 1865. It is true that Engels suppressed
the passage where we have the "non-dualistic" definitions of
value and production price. However, the single-table published
by Engels in 1894 does not appear in the "main manuscript" (!!).

I will describe to you the lay-out of the "main manuscript" in
confrontation with the 1894 version (using the pagination of

1. (p. 263) Para.: "In Volumes 1 and 2..." Similar to the "main

2. Pasagge suppressed by Engels containing the definitions of
value and production prices. It has 28 lines.

3. (p. 263) Para.: "If we take..." Similar to the "main

4. (p. 263) Para.: "The specific degree..." This paragraph should
contain the single-table, but it is not there. In the "main
manuscript" it is only mentioned the average composition capital
80c+20v and there is the idea of diverse capitals whose cost-
price components always sum 100, but there are not the specific
examples. In other words, the capitals 90c+10v and 70c+30v do not
appear and, as said, the table is not presented.

5. (p. 264) Para.: "The development..." Similar to "main
manuscript" (This paragraph is the famous one, which "it is
always possible to go wrong...")

II. Hypotheses:

(a) The single-table was inserted by Engels, replacing the
paragraph 2. (28 lines) suppressed and "claryfing" Marx's
phrasing in the paragraph that I numbered 4. In effect, Marx
presents the 80c+20v average capital and the formulas m+n=100,
(m+x)c, (n-x)v, (m-x)c and (n+x)v. You need only to say: Let us
suppose that x=10 and you have the three commodities example of
the single table. On the other hand, if we examine this table, it
is completely clear that value = cost-price + surplus-value and
production price is cost-price + profit i.e., what Marx says in
the paragraph suppressed. So, the table contains the same
definitions using a "practical" example.

(b) The single-table was inserted later by Marx himself. It is
important to remember that we have only the "main manuscript" of
Vol. III, but there are another manuscripts "belonging to Vol.
III" (written between 1863-67). I do not know if they are now
finally published. In particular, the planned MEGA, Section II,
Vol. 4.3 (will) contain(s) "diverse manuscripts belonging to
Vols. II and III". I also know that the planned MEGA, Section II,
Vol. 15 will contain manuscripts of Vol. III. In any of these
materials could be "inserted" the single-table.

The editorial footnotes of MEGA, Section II, Vol. 4.2 do not
explain the difference between the "main manuscript" and the book
published by Engels, which we know as "Vol. III".

I think you will agree with me that, basically, all this does not
alter the meaning of the "textual evidence". If Engels was who
inserted the table, this only "compensates" the suppression of
the paragraph that I numbered 2. It is simply another version of
the definitions which have been neglected in the literature. If
we take the 2 things together (definitions and table), obviously
the evidence is clearer and stronger.

III. In any case, it is important to note three things:

a) In the "main manuscript" (probably in 1865) Marx defines:

value = cost-price + surplus-value
production price = cost-price + profit

b) With the material of the "main manuscript" it is easy to
construct a single-table example, an exercise/addition that could
be done by Engels, and that simply puts clearer what Marx says.

c) A "dualist" could argue that Marx does not say in the above
definitions that the cost-price of the commodities corresponds to
the production price paid for them. So, these definitions could
be accepted, but saying that "cost-price" must be defined as the
"value of the constant and variable capital", MEANING FOR THIS
the "value of the means of production" and the "value of the
wage-goods". In other words, this would be another version of the
known statetment: "Marx forgot to transform the inputs", because
in his definitions the "cost-price" would be given "in values".

In fact, the "dualist" could find even some "textual support" in
the paragraph 2, suppressed by Engels because Marx says (my
translation): "The value of commodities = to the *value* of the
capital consumed in the production of commodities plus the
surplus-value" (emphasis added). [MEGA, Section 2, Vol. 4.2, p.

However, this argumentation is weak because, it is precisely in
the context of these 5 paragraphs that we have the clear
statement, given in the paragraph that I numbered 5:

"The development given above also involves a modification in the
determination of commodity's cost-price. It was originally
assumed that the cost price of a commodity equalled the *value*
of the commodities consumed in its production. But for the buyer
of a commodity, it is the price of production that constitutes
its cost price and can thus enter into forming the price of
another commodity." (Marx emphasis).

So, this statement is directed precisely to qualify the
definitions given in the paragraph suppressed by Engels. It is
clear, therefore, that the cost-price (this element, that
according to the definitions, is equal for both, values and
production prices) corresponds to the price of production paid
for the means of productions and wage-goods. Or, in general
terms, the "value of constant capital" and the "value of variable
capital" (i.e. the "value of the capital consumed") correspond to
the PRODUCTION PRICE (not to the VALUE CONTAINED) in the means of
production and wage goods.

IV. Assuming a static situation (there is no technical change),
no fixed capital and no joint production, and n commodities, the
above definitions can be easily translated into matrices and
vectors as follows.

Let us define:

P: (1xn) vector of unit production prices, in money terms.
v: (1xn) vector of unit values, in money terms.
X: (nx1) vector of gross physical production.
A: (nxn) matrix of physical inputs used per unit of output.
B: (nx1) vector of real wage per unit of living labor.
L: (1xn) vector of living labor used per unit of output.

M = A+BL is the (nxn) matrix the total inputs per unit of output.
PM is the (1xn) vector of cost-price (in money terms).
P[I-M]X is total profit (a scalar measured in money).

alfa = L/LX is a (1xn) vector of the proportion of living labor
used in each commodity into the total living labor used.

beta = PM/PMX is a (1xn) vector of the proportion of cost price
investd in each commodity into the total cost price.

So, unit values and unit production prices could be defined as:

v = PM + alfa*P[I-M]X

P = PM + beta*P[I-M]X

Unit values show how the total profit (=total surplus-value) is
produced, exploited: in proportion (alfa) to the living labor
used by each capital.

Unit production prices show how the total surplus-value (= total
profit) is distributed: in proportion (beta) to the cost price

Therefore, the only difference between unit values and unit
production prices is -as Marx suggests in the paragraph
suppressed by Engels- the difference between "Mehrwert" and

The "twin equalities" are obtained in the same simple way that it
is suggested by the single-table of p. 264. If we post-multiply v
and P for X, the vectors alfa and beta becomes a unit vector and
thus both expressions (vX and PX) are equal (= PMX + P[I-M]X)

On the other hand, alfa*P[I-M]X and beta*P[I-M]X are,
respectively, the unit surplus-value and the unit profit.
Multiplying this expressions by X, we have that total surplus-
value is equal to total profit.

V. Perhaps you will agree with me that it is INCREDIBLE that,
presumably, NO-ONE has still done a DEEP research concerning the
above mentioned texts, which have been "discussed ad nauseam" for
many years.

At least, we could try to find the e-mail of the IISG and to ask
if MEGA, Section 2, Vol. 4.3 is already published. This, perhaps,
could eliminate (or not) hypothesis (b). It would be also
important to find Ohno (1993) article.

My best, Alejandro 2.11.96