[OPE-L:3749] RE: Hairsplitting

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 20:34:48 -0800 (PST)

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A reply to Allin's ope-l 3745.

Allin wrote:

"If values are conceived as 'embodied labour coefficients', then it is fair to
say that the magnitude s/(c+v) is indeed determined 'in production'. But on
the single-system view c and v are in prices of production, which are *not*
determined 'in production', but rather in the process of market competition
(or notionally so, since market competition does not in fact generate a
uniform rate of profit)."

First, two points of clarification. I conceive values in Marx's work as
"embodied labor coefficients," but not vertically integrated labor
coefficients. I deny the latter-day attempt to oppose "abstract labor" and
"embodied labor." I deny that the standard interpretation understands Marx's
concept of embodiment. If you think "embodied labor" means only the
labor-time required to reproduce something, chew on this:

"it is only a historically specific epoch of development which presents the
labour expended in the production of a useful article as an 'objective'
property of that article, i.e. as its value. It is only then that the product
of labour becomes transformed into a commodity" (Capital I, Ch. 1, Vintage, p.

Second, in the TEMPORAL single system interpretation, c and v "are in"
*actual* prices, not prices of production. The phrase "are in" is misleading,
because only the magnitude of value, not the unit of measurement, is at issue

With respect to Allin's substantive point, I should have been clearer: by
saying that the profit rate is determined "in production," before commodities
go to market, I meant that the magnitude of profit is determined BEFORE
exchange --- this is what the conservation of value in exchange is all about.
Of course, the rate of profit is also dependent on the capital advanced. Marx
indicates in no uncertain terms, in Ch. 6 of Vol. III, that changes in the
*prices* of means of production affect the denominator of the profit rate, and
thus the rate itself, whatever may cause of the price changes. He does not
say "the price rate of profit" will change but not the "value rate of profit."

Andrew Kliman