[OPE-L:7334] [OPE-L:864] Re: Re: Re: abstract labour

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Thu, 8 Apr 1999 23:10:59 -0400 (EDT)

Ajit declared:

In anycase, falling rate of profit is ot Marx's strong
>suit, so why buid a defence on that ground?

Ajit, you must know Ricardo's anticipation of "TSS" like theories for why
technical progress would reduce the value produced and presumably lower the
profit rate thereby. Andrew, John and Alan may be interested in this
following example from the chapter "Value and Riches, Their Distinctive
Properties" in Ricardo's magnum opus:

"Suppose with a given capital, the labour of a certain number of men
producd 1000 pair of stockings, and that by inventions in machinery, the
same number of men can produce 2000 pair, or that they can continue to
produce 1000 pair, and can produce besides 500 hats; then the value of the
2000 pair of stockings, or of the 1000 pair of stockings, and 500 hats,
will be neither more or less than that of the 1000 pair of stockings before
the introduction of machinery; for they will be the produce of the same
quantity of labour. But the value of the general mass of commodities will
nevertheless be DIMINISHED; for, although the value of the increased
quantity produced, in consequence of the improvement, will be the same
exactly as the value would have been of the less quantity that would have
been produced, had no improvement taken palce, an effect is also produced
on the portion of goods still unconsumed, which were manufactured
previously to the improvement;: and the society will nothwithstanding the
increased quantity of commodities, notwithstanding its augmented riches,
and its augmented means of enjoyment, have a less amount of value. By
constantly increasing the facility of production, we constantly diminish
the value of some of the commodities before produced, though by the same
means we not only add to the national riches, but also the power of future
production>" p.273-4 of Sraffa's ed.

No wonder Marx defends Ricardo here against Say's rebuttal. Here it is: the
inverse movement of use value and unit value and of wealth and value.

Also interesting in the chapter on value and riches is the following
sentence which needs to be juxtaposed with Marx's first. "wealth always
depends on the quantity of commodities produced, withouth any regard to the
facility with which the instruments employed in production may have been
procured." Marx's analysis of the commodity allows him to sharpen the
distinction already made here by Ricardo beween wealth and value and the
respective labors that produce each.

The first chapter of part one is better read in terms of Ricardo's
problematic in this chapter.

Yours, Rakesh