[OPE-L:3850] Conservation Laws

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 08:49:07 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

Fred wrote in [OPE-L:3846]:

> In my view, Marxs two aggregate equalities are TRUE BY
> ASSUMPTION, or by methodological presupposition.

I do not think that this is a clear way to present this
problem. If we say that the equalities are "true by
assumption", this would mean that we could "assume" another
thing and then the equalities would not be fulfilled.

The equalities are not the result of a particular
"methodological presupposition", they are an "ontological
matter". IMHO, the meaning of the two equalities is that
the whole labor distributed by means of prices (value-form)
in circulation is the same that has been objectified in
production (value-substance), no more, no less. Prices can
only distribute what in production has been spent. This is
not a result of a "methodological assumption". More
concrete situations imply that these equalities must be
"reconstructed" in more complex situations (e.g. technical

Fred seems to concede to Tugan, Bort & Co. that, by using
the "linear production theory" (i.e. another "methodological
approach") the two equalities are not fulfilled. However, I
think that this is not the problem of the "linear
production tools", but the erroneous definition of value
used by these people. Once one "corrects" the definition of
value (i.e. uses that suggested by Marx in V.3, Ch.9: W =
K + m), the two equalities can be established using "linear
production theory" (See, for example my OPE-L 3827 and
3585). Of course, these "tools" cannot take into account
more than a few of simple situations, but for the purposes
of V.3, Ch.9, and also for Tugan, Bort & Co. "critique"
they are enough to show that the two equalities hold.

Alejandro Ramos M

> Our minds must work in different ways, Fred. You seem to
believe that the
> above settles the question of the meaning of the twin
equalities. Even if
> I grant you all of the above, from my perspective this
just raises *more*
> questions than it resolves.
> Most importantly, how are we to interpret the meaning of
the twin
> equalities. To say that it is true by assumption begs the
question. One
> must explain *why* and ... , even harder, *how*
> For instance, are there always these equalities or are
they realized
> tendencially? If they are realized tendencially, this
implies periods of
> time when the equalities will not hold.
> If they are realized tendencially, what are the social
forces that will
> bring about these equalities and disturb the equalities?
> Are prices of production and a general rate of profit
also formed
> tendencially? I believe that to the extent that these
processes have
> meaning and are real social processes (a claim that has
been challenged on
> this list before), then one must explain how these
processes are realized
> over time rather than just take them as given.
> Moreover, if we *only* take these equalities as given,
dont we lock
> ourselves into a non-temporal equilibrium framework?
> At the risk of being repetitive, I will again state that
from a
> methodological perspective, that which is taken as given
by assumption,
> must then later be explained at a more concrete level of
> Although this may be a controversial point, I *dont*
believe that Marxs
> method would is consistent with the simple axiomatic
method. If an axiom
> is advanced, it must later be explained as being
consistent with a real
> social force peculiar to capitalism.
> > 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
> > Marxs theory.
> >From a historical perspective, I think you are correct.
That is, the
> "attack" on the twin equalities, going back to Tugan-
Baranowsky and
> Bortkiewicz, took place within the context of the
development of linear
> production theory. More recently, it has been a component
part of the
> Neo-Ricardian critique of Marx in Steedman, Lippi, et.
al. This does not
> mean, though, that *all* those who question the meaning
of the
> "conservation laws" embrace the method embodied within
the math of linear
> production theory.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> >