[OPE-L:3846] conservation laws

Fred Mosele (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 06:27:39 -0800 (PST)

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I finally have the time to comment briefly on the recent discussion about
Marx's "conservation laws" (i.e. two aggregate equalities), stimulated by a
personal post from Rakesh B. on this subject.

In my view, Marx's two aggregate equalities are TRUE BY ASSUMPTION, or by
methodological presupposition. According to Marx's logical method, the total
amount of value and surplus-value are determined prior to and independent of
the division of these total amounts into individual parts. These total
amounts of are TAKEN AS GIVEN, or as predetermined, in the further analysis
of the individual parts. Therefore, these total amounts cannot be altered
by this division into individual parts, because they are determined and
taken as given prior to this division. The sums of the individual parts are
equal by assumption to the predetermined totals of value and surplus-value.

Marx stated this key methodological premise of his theory over and over
again in all the various drafts of Capital, and emphasized it increasingly
as the years passed and his work on Capital progressed. It is especially
emphasized in Part 7 of Volume 3 ("Revenue and Its Sources") (and in the
earlier draft of this part in the 1861-63 manuscript which we know as the
Addendum to Volume 3 of Theories of Surplus Value), which provides a sort of
summary of Marx's theory and contrasts Marx's theory with the opposite view
(of the "vulgar economists" and others) that the totals are derived as the
sum of the individual parts.

I have written two papers recently about this key methodological premise,
especially with respect to Marx's theory of the distribution of
surplus-value - one which emphasizes the early drafts of Capital (especially
the 1861-63 manuscript) and the other which emphasizes the final draft of
Capital. I would be happy to send anyone interested a copy. Both papers
provide substantial textual evidence of this key methodological premise of
Marx's theory.

The possibility that these two aggregate equalities are not simultaneously
true - indeed in general the impossibility that both will be simultaneously
true - follows from an entirely different logical method - the method of
linear production theory, in which the initial givens are the physical
quantities of inputs and outputs and the total amounts of value and
surplus-value play no role whatsoever. If these total amounts are
considered at all, they are derived as the sum of individual values and
prices, not determined prior to the division into individual parts, as in
Marx's theory.