[OPE-L:3727] RE: Hairsplitting

Ian Hun (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Thu, 28 Nov 1996 20:37:34 -0800 (PST)

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>Could you kindly explain this very obscure (for me)

Well, part of what I meant was spelled out by saying that the value
conservation principle did not look very plausible given that value can
disappear because of competition or lack of demand. The other part is that
if you take social relations of production as social relations through
which social production is oriented to certain social ends, and you take
value as such a relation, that is, you take value as the expression of an
orientation of production toward economy of labour which serves social
interests, then it is not clear why value should be "conserved". This may
still seem obscure to Alejandro, but I try to spell this notion out in *The
Labours of Steedman on Marx*, Review of Radical Political Economics, 14:4,
and ch 6 of my book, *Analytical and Dialectical Marxism*, (Aldershot:
Avebury, 1993)

>What is "saved" following Tugan-Baranowsky [1905]
>particular (and, in my opinion, ERRONEOUS) interpretation
>of Marx?

Paul specifies some of the things which are saved. I have a go at
specifying some more in the pieces mentioned above.

>Perhaps some articles written by Samuelson in the early 70s
>could answer this question.

This reference to Samuelson is quite obscure to me. I know his famous
"erazor" charge, exploited by Steedman et al, but I don't accept that all
"two system" theories must succumb to this charge. They only begin to
succumb if you take the only or main point of a theory of value as
providing an account of relative commodity prices, which I do not.

>Actually, as it has been shown in recent posts, there is no
>"inconsistency" in the manuscript. The "inconsistency" only
>arises if we follow the interpretation that Paul is
>proposing, which is the same proposed by: Tugan,
>Bortkiewicz... Steedman... Samuelson...

Well, so you say. But, in any case, it is absurd to make a charge of
inconsistency in
relation to a manuscript. So you can take the manuscript as an initial
attempt to explore the question of how prices deviate from values when you
relax the assumption of equal organic compositions of capital. There is
nothing wrong with initial attempts (they may only be incomplete) and what
I was saying about Shaikh is that he demonstrates that you can take Marx's
vol III calculations as the first step in an iteration which yields a
consistent set of input and output prices. That is, you can take him as
providing the first step in a perfectly sound classical solution for prices
of production. If an account can be extended to provide a solution it is
rather rich to make a charge of inconsistency.

My aim with the concept of value is to use it as part of an attempt to show
(a) that commodity production can be seen as involving an exchange of
labours between social agents (an anthropology of production) and (b) as
the basis for a law to the effect that market competition produces a
sustained, all-round reduction of the values of commodities (or
equivalently, an increase in labour productivity).

I hope this makes my (time constrained) points a bit clearer for Alejandro.
If not, and if my written material does not help either, I shall be happy
to address any further concerns.