[OPE-L:3696] Re: [3606] Two "causes" of deviation?

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 09:51:43 -0800 (PST)

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This is the FIRST part of my reply to Allin [3606]. In a
SECOND post, I will consider a numerical example dealing
with the problem he raises.

(I) I would like to join more properly the discussion on
the paragraph of Vol. III, Chapter 12 ("Supplementary
Remarks") which Allin and Fred have been commenting:

I quote Allin's "Moscow version":

"We have seen how a deviation in prices of production
from values arises from:
1) adding the average profit instead of the
surplus-value contained in a commodity to its
2) the price of production, which so deviates
from the value of a commodity, entering into the
cost-price of other commodities as one of its
elements, so that the cost-price of a commodity may
already contain a deviation from value in those
means of production consumed by it..."

(Allin's Moscow, pp. 206-7; my Moscow, pp. 202-3; Penguin,
pp. 308-9; the latter has slight but important differences
with Moscow's.)
(Main references: Allin: 3606, 3676, 3693; Fred: 3680,
3692; Alejandro: 3651, 3673, 3681.)

(II) Allin's reading of the paragraph

In his comments, Allin takes for grant that Marx's points
"1)" and "2)" are CAUSES or SOURCES of deviation between
production prices and values. So, he says (I UNDERLINE the
words "cause" and "source"):

"On that view, Marxs point 2 is *not*, as he states,
A CAUSE of "a deviation in prices of production from
values"..." [3606]

"...what I regard as a key statement of Marxs on this
whole matter, namely that a price/value deviation
among the non-labour inputs to a given commodity is A
CAUSE from which arises "a deviation in prices of pro-
duction from values" on the output side..." [3676]

"This is consistent with Marxs statementes to the
effect that there are *two* SOURCES of deviation
between price of production and value on the output
side (inequality between surplus-value and profit,
inequality between value of inputs and price of
inputs)." [3693]

(III) My reading

(1) First of all, I would want to stress that, in the
Moscow version cited by Allin, neither the word "cause" nor
the word "source" are in Marx's text.

In Penguin version, the first lines are:

"We have already seen that the divergence of price
of production from value arises for the following
REASONS..." (p. 308)

However, the word "reasons" (as well as "cause" or
"source") does not appear in the original. So, in Penguin's
version the idea that Marx's points "1)" and "2)" are
"causes" ("reasons") of deviation is reinforced. (I think
that, as Fred has Penguin's version, this is a "reason" why
he is accepting Allin's reading; see [3680]).

(2) I want to call the attention on the following:

If points "1)" and "2)" were CAUSES or SOURCES of deviation
between production prices and values they cannot "act" in
the case of the average commodity. This is clear because
in the average commodity there is not difference AT ALL
between value and production price. So, neither "cause 1)"
nor "cause 2)" could act in the case of average commodity.

However, in the following paragraph Marx clearly says that
the so-called (by Allin, in 3606) "cause 2)" acts in the
case of the average commodity:

"It is therefore possible that even the cost-price
of commodities produced by capitals of average
composition may differ from the sum of values of
the elements which make up this component of their
price of production." (My Moscow, p. 203)

So, in point "2)" Marx is pointing out "something" that
"acts" in the case of the average capital, but it cannot be
A CAUSE of deviation between production price and value,
because in the average commodity this deviation = 0.

Conclusion: Points "1)" and "2)" are not "causes" or
"sources" of deviation between production prices and
values, as Allin reads.

(3) Obviously, the problem comes from the verb "to arise",
translation from the original "entspringen" (MEW, Vol. 25,
p. 216; MEGA, Section 2, Vol. 4.2, p. 283).

In my opinion, in this case the verb "to arise" does not
mean that something [deviation between value and production
price] is "caused by" or "created by" something [points
"1)" and "2)"].

In this case, the verb "to arise" means (according to my
Collins, C0BUILD dictionary) that "something becomes
visible", i.e. that something "appears". So, in my
interpretation, Marx is saying that points "1)" and "2)"
are ways by which the deviation between values and
production prices "appears", "becomes visible" or, even, is
actually "carried out".

In this interpretation, there is no inconsistency with the
following paragraph ("It is therefore... p. 203). In
effect, Marx is focusing in the average commodity in which
there is no deviation between production prices and value
"on the output side". However, this deviation "appears"
("arises") even in this case because the elements of its
cost-price contain such a deviation.

In other words, although the deviation contained in the
inputs of an average commodity does not "cause" a deviation
between its value and production price (precisely because it
is "average"), it "appears" in some "indirect" way.

(4) A more general reading could be:

Point "1)" and "2)" are not "causes" of deviation between
values and production prices, but "ways" or "forms" by
which this deviation "appears", is "manifested", or
"becomes visible".

Point "1)" is a DIRECT way by which the deviation between
production price and value "arises"/"appears". Let us take
a non-average commodity: In this case, the appropriated
profit is not equal to the produced profit (surplus-value).
So, there is a DIRECT form by which the deviation is
"carried out" or "appears".

Point "2)" is an INDIRECT way by which the divergence
between the production prices an value "appears". Let us
take an AVERAGE COMMODITY. In this case there is no
deviation between profit and surplus-value. So, in this
case, it seems that the transformation of values into
production prices (already considered in Ch. 9) does not
involve the commodity because there is no difference at all
between its value and production price.

But, this is not true --says Marx-- because, even in the
case of the "average capital" the deviation between
production price and value "appears" ("arises") in some way.
The only difference is that in this case, it "appears" in
an indirect manner, which we can only perceive examining
the cost-price. In the cost-price of an average commodity we
can see that there is a deviation between the "sum of the
values of the elements which make up" it, and the cost-
price itself. (Allin, look: he does say "VALUE OF THE
ELEMENTS", not "value of constant capital and variable

Therefore, in the average commodity the deviation production
price/value "in the input side" cannot be a CAUSE of
deviation between value and production price "in the output
side", because, in that case, this divergence does not
exist. However, in the average commodity, the deviation
production price/value "in the input side" is A WAY BY WHICH
the deviation value/production price (the "transformation")

This only means that the "average commodities" do not
escape to the "transformation process", although, in a
first sight we can think that (since their value = their
production price) they are "out" of this process. But this
is not true. These commodities are also AFFECTED in an
indirect way by the transformation, because their cost
price (corresponding to the **production prices** of the
inputs) diverges from the **value** of the inputs.

A corolary of all this is that to be "average commodity"
does not require that the inputs are also "average
commodities". In the cost price of an average commodity can
enter commodities whose values differ from their production
prices. So, the "average commodity" is not a kind of "sub-
system" isolated from the rest of commodities. Certainly,
it is not a sort of Sraffian "standard commodity".

Alejandro Ramos