[OPE-L:4951] Re: ideal vs real value

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Wed, 7 May 1997 08:20:26 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Jerry's ope-l 4940.

Jerry: "*If* I understand Andrew's position correctly, he is saying that:

a) aggregate value can decrease in the sphere of circulation;

b) e.g. aggregate value can decrease if "commodities" are not sold; but ..."

The answer to b) is yes, I think that was Marx's view. In a), if "decrease in
the sphere of circulation" means "decrease as a result of the process of
exchange," which is how I think most people are likely to read it, the answer
is no, I don't think that was Marx's view. If, however, "decrease in the
sphere of circulation" means "decrease anytime after the things have been
produced," which is evidently what Jerry intends, then the answer is yes, I
think that was Marx's view

Jerry "... c) the conservation of value principle means that the quantity of
value exchanged = the quantity of value exchanged, i.e. on the aggregate
level, whatever the magnitude of value sold exactly equals the magnitude of
value purchased. ...

"I can not disagree with c) either since it is a tautology and an identity."

Right, c) is a tautology, but it is not what I'm saying. What I am saying is
that "conservation of value in exchange" means that the process of exchange,
i.e., the transfer of titles to ownership, does not alter the aggregate sum of
value in existence. That is, the aggregate sum of value that existed just
before the transfer of titles began would be the same as the aggregate sum of
value that exists just after the transfer of titles is completed, given, of
course, that no other events take place during the same time interval to
expand or contract value. This is not a tautology, at least not in the same
way that c) is.

Jerry: "As for the 'amount of value in existence', another question is: what
*is* [the magnitude of the value] 'in existence'? (or expressing that
question somewhat differently: *when* and by what *act* does value come fully
'into existence'?).

"Let me put some numbers on that question [I know you and some others like
numerical illustrations]:"

There are a lot of charlatans and fools in "Marxian economics," especially
with respect to value theory. They talk a good line, have a lot of practice
turning dialectics into its opposite, sophistry, in order to try to make
things come out the way they want, and to deflect away questions that they
can't answer. Trying to get the discussion on the terrain of numerical (or
algebraic) illustrations is a way of trying to discriminate between reason and
sophistry, serious ideas and crap, a way of saying "Hic Rhodus! Hic Salta!"

Jerry: "Suppose that the aggregate value of products *produced* = $100 (100
products produced with an "exchange value" of $1/unit).

"Assume no constant fixed capital [did I say that?] ...

Yes, you did. Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions. I see no reason for
this assumption other than to make the math easier. :-)

" ... and the MEV is constant.

"Now suppose that only 90 of those products are sold on the market and the
remaining 10 units -- after production -- physically degrade to the point
where they have no use-value or exchange-value.

Let me change the last word to "value." It is more precise.

"What would be the magnitude of the value 'in existence'?

"Would it = $90?"

It depends on what happens to the 90 products in the meantime, and on what
else happens in the meantime, such as new production. But, ceteris paribus,
the answer is yes: without new production, or consumption of the 90 products,
etc., an aggregate value expressed as $90 would be in existence.

"If so, what would you call the 'value' [$10 = exchange value] of the
'commodities' that have been 'lost'?"

I'm not quite sure. Marx doesn't have a term for this other than "loss of
value," or, when the article is physically degraded or destroyed, as in this
case, he'll also refer to "destruction" of value.

What does anyone call such things? When you eat an apple, what happens to its
value? How about calling this "The Jerry Levy Phenomenon"?

Andrew Kliman