[OPE-L:7045] [OPE-L:541] Kliman on Moseley

Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 12:16:10 -0600

In OPE-L 500, Fred replied to my own OPE-L 497 in this way:

>You are right that my equation for prices of production (e.g. equation 10
>in my 1993 article that you cite) has no time subscripts. This equation
>is taken from p. 265 of Vol. 3 of the Penguin edition of Capital. There
>we find Marx's own equation for prices of production, very clearly stated:
> The formula that the price of production of a commodity
> = k + p, cost price plus profit, can now be stated more
> exactly; since p = kp' (where p' is the general rate of
> profit), the PRICE OF PRODUCTION = K + KP'. If k = 300
> and p' = 15 per cent, the price of production k + kp" =
> 300 + (300 x .15) = 345. (emphasis added)
>Please note that there are not any time subscripts in Marx's equation,
>either. Nor are there ANY time subscripts in ANY of Marx's many
>discussions of prices of production.

Then, he asked me:

>Doesn't this make you wonder about the validty of the temporal
>interpretation of Marx's theory of prices of production?

In OPE-L 511, I argued that, despite the lacking time subscripts, in Marx's
text we can find textual evidence supporting the "temporal interpretation
of Marx's theory".

Now, I would wish to add more textual evidence, this time from Vol II, Ch 4.

Marx wrote:

"The circuit of capital is a constant process of interruption; one stage
[Stadium] is left behind, the next stage embarked upon; one for is cast
aside, and the capital exists in another; each of these stages not only
conditions the other, but at the same time excludes it." (p. 182)

I think this passage strongly suggest that, using modern notation, we are
allowed to attach a "time subscript" to each of those "stages"
["Stadien"] forming the capital circuit.

In this Chapter, Marx also writes about the *intertemporal* comparison of
magnitudes of value during the circuit:

"This *sequence* of methamorphoses of capital in process implies the
continuous comparison of the change in value brought about in the circuit
with the *original* value of the capital...

"'Value,' says Bailey, opposing to the autonomization of value which
characterizes the capitalist mode of production, and which he treats as the
illusion of certain economists, 'value is a relation between contemporary
commodities, because such only admit of being exchange with each other.'

"He says this in opposition to the comparison of commodity values *at
different point in time* --a comparison which, if the value of money at
each period is taken as fixed, is simply the comparison between the
expenditure of labour required in different epochs for the production of
the same kind of commodities.

"This derives from his general misunderstanding, according to which
exchange value equals value, the form of value is value itself; thus
commodity values cease to be comparable once they no longer actively
function as exchange-values, and cannot actually be exchange for one
another. He does not in the least suspect, therefore, that value functions
as capital value or capital only in so far as it remains identical with
itself and is compared with itself in the *different phases of its circuit,
which are in no way 'contemporary', but rather occur in succession." (p.
185-6; emphases added.)

Thus, here we have not only the description of capital circuit as a
*temporal sequence* but also a criticism to the Baileyan idea that value
comparison is only possible "between contemporary commodities."

In this vein, I think it's quite natural to think that the calculation of
the profit rate (and, then, of production prices) does involve the
"comparison of the change in value brought about in the circuit with the
*original* value of the capital".

So, I don't think that the lacking of time subscripts in Marx's text is
evidence enough to invalidate the temporal interpretation of Marx's theory
of prices of production, as Fred suggests.