[OPE-L:4322] Re: cost-price and all that

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 07:33:05 -0800 (PST)

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I remember now that I owe Mike L a reply to [OPE-L:4293]. Mike asks me
what I think about his argument. To be honest, I'm still thinking through
the positions advanced by Mike and Fred and would appreciate further
clarification from Mike on his position re the starting point of V3.
However, to "answer" one question with another, let me ask you what you
think of Tony's explanation in his _The Logic of Marx's Capital_:

Tony basically argues that the subject matter of V3 concerns capital in
distribution (a point that you and Fred seem to agree with). In Tony's
scheme of things, this can be represented by:

| within industrial capital (unity)
capital in distribution ----> | between industrial capital &
| its other (difference)
| among industrial &
| non-industrial capital
| (unity-in-difference)

this is further subdivided as:

| cost price (simple unity)
within industrial capital ---> | competition (difference)
| price of production
| (unity-in-difference)

Tony's answer to your question is then:

"Often in _Capital_ a particular category within a specific
categorical structure is itself a principle for a systematic
ordering of different determinations under it. This is the case
for capital as a simple unity of many units of industrial
capital, the topic of Chapters I-IX of _Capital III_. In this
ordering 'cost-price" comes first. It provides the most
simple and immediate manner of categorizing the many units of
industrial capital. As the first category of Volume III, it is
an immediate continuation of Volume II. In Volume II prices were
assumed to be directly proportional to values. Also in Volume II
Marx insisted that constant capital must be taken into account
in the reproduction process of capital, against the tendency of
Adam Smith and others to neglect it. The category of
'cost-price' develops these points. 'cost-price' is a measure
for determining price that takes into account constant capital
as well as variable capital and surplus value, as opposed to
Adam Smith's attempt to derive cost price from revenues (wages
plus surplus, i.e. profits and rents) alone. Different units of
industrial capital can be distinguished according to the cost
prices of the commodities they produce, with cost
price equalling c + v + s, all calculated in value terms" (p.

and later he adds:

"One of the most important aspects in which 'cost-price' is a
category of simple unity on this level has to do with the fact
that with this category we consider each of the many units of
capital in isolation, individually. But each of the many units
of capital is what it is due to its difference from other units.
Its pursuit of its own profit interests necessarily brings it
into contact with other units of capital, pursuing *their*
profit interests. This moment of difference must be
systematically incorporated if the theoretical reconstruction is
to be adequate to the object reconstructed. And so Marx next
introduced the category of 'competition' among the many units of
industrial capital. This category makes explicit the latent
antagonism among the different units of industrial capital, each
seeking profits on the basis of its own cost price" (Ibid, p.

What do you think about the above?

In solidarity, Jerry


Tony Smith _The Logic of Marx's Capital: Replies to Hegelian Criticisms_,
Albany, State University of New York Press, 1990