[OPE-L:3746] RE: Hairsplitting

Ian Hun (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 19:04:13 -0800 (PST)

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Dear Alejandro,
I would be happy to have any comments and
criticisms on the position taken in the RRPE article (but be warned there
are some bad typos, especially in the maths, due to some transition in
type-setting or gap in editorial proof-reading - mostly these can be worked
out though).

Looking over what I've written, I feel I haven't put the point about
conservation as clearly as I should. Total price = total value; total
profits = total surplus value are the conservation laws. Unless this is
some way of establishing a metric (Medio, as I recall, uses total profit =
total surplus vale to establish a price measure for his prices of
production per unit of value) which would require only one, not two,
equations, the laws suggest a model of some stuff, like water, which has
been reallocated between capitals but remains the same quantity. However,
given the properties of value, that it is a social relation of production,
ie. reflects relations of control over production, and that its measure for
any given item changes under changes in demand and technology, it does not
seem intuitively plausible to me to model value as some sort of stuff. The
only quantitiy which could be modelled as some sort of stuff might be the
"effort" which workers put into the product, but this effort is not the
same as value.

I hope this a bit clearer. My point relies on asking what sort of model of
value might lead you to posit the conservation laws and I may only be
suffering from lack of imagination when I say that the only model I can
think of is one which (wrongly) takes value as some sort of stuff like
energy or charge( which can only be modelled as a stuff in a limited way).
There may be reasons other than models and establishing metrics which might
justify the laws but I am trying to catch up with the Freeman/Kliman, etc
readings where the single system theory is developed.