[OPE-L:3677] Re: [3602] Cost-Prices and Value

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 02:29:25 -0800 (PST)

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In reply to:
From: aramos@aramos.bo[SMTP:aramos@aramos.bo]
Sent: 15 November 1996 19:46
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [OPE-L:3673] Re: [3602] Cost-Prices and Value

This magnitude, however, does not belong to a "separate"
system in the sense that Tugan and Bortkiewicz claim. In
particular, VALUE is not formed by a "sum of values", and
therefore is not formed by the sum of these "values contained"
into the components fo the commodities.

This amounts to an assertion that there exists no homomorphism
between the set of values and some subset of the real numbers,
and thus apparently rules out the performance of arithmetic on values.
Is this what you intend to say?

Why? Because in capitalist society the labor-time must appear as
money and this "appearance" could be accomplished in a divergent
way. So, the socially necessary labor time corresponding to the
inputs cannot be the labor time they contain, but the labor time
REPRESENTED by the produccion price that the capitalist must
pay. Labor must appear as money and, actually it appears in a
"divergent" or contadictory way.

This is to confuse what is socially necessary with the limited perception of
this that is available to the individual capitalist. It is true that prices are the
only means by which social labour time is presented to the capitalist, but
this channel is a noisy one which at times presents misleading information.
Some capitalists will buy a given input above its value and some below its value
but this does not alter the amount of time that society has to allocate to produce
the good. The appearances in question are the private representations of
the social process which exists beyond the private representations.

To conceive "value" as a "sum of values", independent of any
monetary representation of labor, is to neglect one of the key
pieces of Marx's conceptual framework, i.e. that value is a
unity of substance and form, it is labor-time that must appear
as money.

Exchange value, and in particular price, is a form of representation of
value, but not value itself. This form of representation is a necessary one
in a society in which socialised labour co-exists with private appropriation.
Although in this society, social labour must be so represented, value can still
be analysed separately from its form of representation provided that one has
a theory of what it is that causes these representations to appear. Real movements
can be quite distinct from apparent movements.

Let us cite Dickinson [1956] "A Comment on Meek's 'Notes on the
Transformation Problem'", Economic Journal, 66, p. 740:

"Values and prices are quantities of different dimensions,
measured in different units. Values are measured in
quantities of labor-time. Prices are measured in terms of

Does Allin subscribe this statement?

In that case, I would disagree. I think it is quite clear that
Marx quantities (e.g. values and production prices) are two-
dimensional. That is, they are measured in both labor-time AND

The difference between the vector of values and the vector
of production prices does not involve the dimensionality of the
magnitudes, because both vectors are two-dimensional.

I cant speak with assurance for Allin at this point, but Dickinson's account
seems clear and correct. Is this the same Dickinson who in the 30s published
a model of the socialist economy very similar to that of Lange?

In what sense are you using the term two-dimensional when applied
to the vectors?

If you are applying it to the vectors as a whole, this implies that the
vectors contain only two elements, which seems an unlikely interpretation.
An alternative interpretation would be that the elements of the vectors
are themselves two dimensional, as would be the case of a vector of
complex numbers. This is at least open to a consistent interpretation,
but, I would warn you that attempting to construct an algebra of such
vectors is not for the faint hearted, and in its time took the efforts of
some very prominent mathematicians, the most significant example
being the development of the concept of Hilbert space.

Let us first conceive both vectors in terms of labor.
Labor-value is the labor-time objectified in each commodity,
while production price in terms of labor is the labor-time
appropriated through the selling of the commodity.

By talking of production price in terms of labour, you are not
dealing with the original vector of production prices, but one that
has been multiplied by an operator of dimension hours/$ .

Both vectors can be expressed also in terms of money.
Money-value is the amount of money representing the labor-time
objectified in the commodity, and production price in terms of
money is the money representing the labor-time effectively
appropriated by the capitalist.

This is to perform the inverse operation on the value vector, multiplication by
and operator of dimension $/hour, but the fact that you can perform
such operations does not alter the dimensionality of the original vectors.
You are no closer to establishing that the elements of of the value vector
are two dimensional.

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