[OPE-L:3724] Re: Vampires

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Thu, 28 Nov 1996 13:28:13 -0800 (PST)

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> Paul C:
> The reason why I am reluctant to accept the single
> system interpretation is that in order to make a
> particular sense of what were working notes later
> published by Engels as volume 3, it involves
> discarding the clear and explicit definitions
> of value that Marx later published in volume 1.

Well, it is not "discarded". As usual in Marx's
presentation, the "definitions" EVOLVE, they are not given
once and for all. Production price itself, is a "modified
form of value". When new and more concrete phenomena are
progressively taken into account, the "definitions" change.
That is an interesting pecualirity of Marx presentation.

Paul C:
> It seems that the whole motivation is based upon
> an attempt to preserve the 'one conservation law
> to many that occurs in Marxs drafts for the theory of
> prices of production.

There is no a "theory of prices of production" as
something completely separated from his theory of value. As
said, prices of production are an "evolved" form of values.

Paul C:
> I see no reason to believe that Marx had forseen
> what was in any case a relatively arcane criticism
> that was to be made by later economists.

I do not think that it is an "arcane criticism". It had
(has) the clear intention to show that profit is not a
"form" of exploited labor, so that another theory of value
(e.g. marginalism) would be "better" to "explain"
capitalist economy.

Paul C:
> I can not remember reading anything in Capital to
> indicate that Marx had tried to make total prices =
> total values and total profit = total
> surplus value after transforming input prices, and had
> realised that this was impossible.

Well, it is not impossible. If you take into account the
specific way Marx uses to present his ideas (this
aspect of his "method") and, in particular, analyse the
EVOLUTION of the definition of "value", you can get the
twin equalities, easily.

Paul C:
> It does so in what seems to me to be a fundamentally
> defensive and ideological
> fashion, and, even within these terms seems to want
> to defend a relatively minor hypothesis - the dual
> conservation of total prices and total profits.
> In what way is this a useful or important result in
> predicting how economic > relations will develop?

To show, in a rational way, that capitalist profit is
a form of the surplus-labor (i.e. that EXPLOITATION
ACTUALLY EXISTS), is not a "minor hypothesis", I think.

It seems to me that Paul is talking about "predicting" in
an statistical sense (Right?). Obviously this has an
immense importance but, at this level, Marx's theory is
concerned with what we can call a "structural description
of capitalism". I mean: It is important to know NOT ONLY
that prices could change in x 0f we have a "bad harvest",
but also: What is a price? What is money? What is capital?
and, above all WHAT IS PROFIT?

Paul C:
> In preserving the dual conservation law, you are forced
> to throw out the classical labour theory of value, which
> in comparison, seems to me to be an imensely useful
> tool in explaining and predicting economic phenomena.

I do not think that between the "classical labour theory of
value" and Marx own theory there is the relation of
IDENTITY that Paul is suggesting here. For instance, Marx

Ricardo starts out from the determination of the
relative values... of commodities by the "quantity
of labour"... The character of this "labour" is no
further examined... Ricardo **does not examine**
the form --the peculiar characteristic of labour
that creates exchange value or manifests itself in
exchange value-- the **nature** of this labour.
Hence he does not grasp the connection of this
labour with money or that it must assume the form
of money.
Hence he completely fails to grasp the connection
between the determination of the exchange-value of
the commodity by labour-time and the fact that the
development of commodities necessarily leads to the
formation of money. (Theories, II, p164)

Additional note:
Reading Paul's latest posts (specially the last "against"
Michael) I have the impression that --despite the
appearances-- he is not talking/debating with Andrew or
with me, but... with Steedman.

We know that Prof Mr. Steedman says that the "system of
values" is "redundant".

Then comes Paul and says:

Just a moment Mr Steedman!!
"Values" are not "redundant". Moreover, I will show you
that your "system of prices" ("theory of prices of
production") IS what actually IS "redundant", is a "noisy
channel", something inessential, a "mirage"... a "fata

The problem is that your mathematics are very primitive.
Your model belongs to the deterministic epoch, now
completely superated by the "stochastics methods". You
should be in the Museum of Sciences...

"Marx's system of values" is the "real reality"
behind the "appearances". If I interpret "Marx's value"
as an "attractor" I can explain the "appearances" better
than you. "Prices of production" are only "noise". Ergo,
in the last instance, Marx was right and you are wrong.

In my opinion, the problem with this strategy to challenge
Steedman criticism is that it ACCEPT THE FRAMEWORK of the
problem as it was SET by Tugan and Bortkiewicz. My
difference with Paul is that I do not accept that the
formalization of Marx's theory that these people did is
correct. I do not accept the premise of the debate. In
particular, I do not accept that the definition of value
corresponding to Vol. III, GIVEN BY TUGAN is correct.
I think that there is a lot there is textual evidence
that is saying us that in Vol. III the definifiton of
value GIVEN BY TUGAN is not equal to Marx's definition, at
this stage of the analysis.

(Tugan was one of the chief of the revisionist movement. He
died as Minister of Finances of the couter-revolutionary
Ukrainian goverment in 1919. But, actually these are
"details". BTW, a question to Paul: Did you read Tugan's

I simply think that Tugan two systems (one in money
["production price"] and another in labor-time ["value"],
the latter calculated using "the clear and explicit
definitions of value [of] volume 1", as if these
definitions were eternal), is not a correct formalization
of Marx. It neglects a lot of things that we can find
"clear and explicit" even in Vol. 1; e.g. labor-time must
be expressed by means of money.

Moreover, if I use this formalization I cannot replicate
one of the "structural features of capitalism" that Marx
rationally explained: the fact that the capitalist class is
a vampire that lives sucking the blood of the workers.

Alejandro Ramos