[OPE-L:4479] changing prices in K-M's interpretation

Fred Mosele (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 07:42:58 -0800 (PST)

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Andrew, for one who is always insisting that others acknowledge that they
are wrong and you are right about Marx ("explicitly, in print, " etc.), you
are not too generous yourself with such acknowledgements. You have argued
that K-M's concept of "revenue" is the same as Marx's concept of revenue ("a
part of surplus-value"). I showed in (4452) that this cannot be true.
Rather than acknowledging this, you say "without getting into a detailed
textual thing at the moment," and then you go on to ask another question.
This may be a small point (although I think linked to larger issues), but at
least this much should be acknowledged: K-M's concept is "revenue" is not
the same as Marx's concept of revenue.

Now to respond to your further question:

1. To remind ourselves and our readers, the general subject of our
discussion is Marx's determination of prices of production in Part 2 of
Volume 3. Our agreed upon assumptions are the assumptions that Marx himself
made and that you yourself have made in your published work: no changes in
technology, no changes in the wages, etc. Marx's question was: given these
assumptions, how are prices of production determined? If technology, etc.
change, then prices of production will change. But Marx's first question,
before analyzing the effects of these changes was to analyze the
determination of prices of production, assuming no changes in these other
conditions. Marx's main criticism of Ricardo was that he analyzed the
effect of changes of wages on prices of production without first explaining
the general determination of prices of production.

2. Now you ask: if we assume that prices (especially the prices of inputs)
are changing from period to period, what did Marx call (or what do we call)
the following inter-period difference: the difference between the proceeds
in one period and the capital advances in the next period?

But, wait a minute, why are prices changing from period to period? Your
question makes sense only within the context of your interpretation of the
transformation. We have assumed constant technology, etc. According to my
interpretation (and almost everybody else's) under these assumed conditions,
prices of production would remain constant from period to period. On the
other hand, according to your interpretation, prices of production continue
to change from period to period, even though all these other conditions
remain constant. In other words, in your interpretation, PRICES CONTINUE TO

3. But this is exactly what I have been saying all along - that your
interpretation of the transformation is not complete after each period, but
continues from period to period. The reason why prices of production
continue to change from period to period in your interpretation is because
the transformation proces is continuing, and for no other reason. You have
tried to deny this and to argue that the transformation is "complete" after
each period. But the very fact that prices of production continue to change
from period to period in your interpretation, even though everything else
remains constant, is proof that your transformation is continuing from
period to period.

Therefore, your question about what to call this inter-period price
difference makes sense only with the context of your interpretation of the
transformation. It does not make sense outside this interpretation. If
everything else remains constant, there are no inter-period differences.
And the very fact that you pose the question is additional proof that in
your interpretation the transformation takes place over multiple periods.

My criticism of this multi-period interpretation of the transformation
remains the same as ever - there is no evidence whatsoever in all of Marx's
writing of such a multi-period transformation. All of Marx's discussions of
the determination of prices of production refer to a single period of

The fact that there is no concept like K-M's "revenue" (no matter what it is
called) in all of Marx's discussions of prices of production is itself
further evidence against this K-M's multi-period interpretation. K-M's
multi-period interpretation requires some such inter-period difference. But
there is no such inter-period difference in Marx's writings about the
transformation. Therefore, it seems all the more reasonable to conclude
that Marx's determination of prices of production does not take place over
multiple periods.

Andrew (and others), I am afraid that this will be my last post for a week
or so. I am sorry to have to break off the discussion, but I look forward
to rejoining it when I return and of course in Washington. I would also
like to return at some point to my other main recent criticism of K-M's
interpretation - that Marx's prices of production are long-run "center of
gravity" prices and K-M's "prices of production" are not such long-run
"center of gravity" prices. This is the fundamental reason why in K-M's
interpretation prices of production continue to change from period to
period, even though all other conditions remain constant.