[OPE-L:3611] vol. 3, ch XI - amendment

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Thu, 7 Nov 1996 05:36:56 -0800 (PST)

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Accuracy in Argumentation:

To save others the bother of working it out, let me admit
that point 1 in my previous posting (11/6/96) was
misleading. I stand by the basic points that (1) a change
in wages will, in the general case, produce changes in
commodity values on the single-system approach, while (2) I
find no hint of this possibility anywhere in Marx's
writings. But my attempt to link this matter directly to
Ch. XI of vol. 3 fails, I think, for the following reason:
in that chapter, Marx considers only the direct or
first-round effect of a change in wages, and in that context
there is no difference between the 'dualist' and
single-system approaches -- in neither case is there a
change in values. On the dualist view, of course, a change
in wages never affects values. On the single-system view
(as I understand it) the value of a commodity is composed of
(a) the sum of the prices of the means of production other
than labour-power (converted into labour-hours via a
suitable multiplier) plus (b) the direct labour-time
expended. The direct effect of a change in wages is, then,
simply to alter the allocation of the direct labour-time
required for the production of any given commodity between
the reproduction of variable capital and the production of
surplus value, producing no change in value. Cost-prices
change, but surplus value changes in an offsetting manner.
The effect on values (on this view, which I am disputing)
comes only at one remove, when the commodities whose prices
of production have been altered by the change in wages come
to feature as inputs to production: then (in general)
cost-prices will be altered without any automatic offset in
the amounts of surplus value contained in the various
commodities. But this effect is beyond the scope of Marx's
discussion in Chapter XI. So (if the present account is
correct) my "dog that didn't bark" point fails.

Even without this argument I think that my previous posting
still poses a challenge to single-system as an
interpretation of Marx.

Allin Cottrell