[OPE-L:1717] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?

Subject: [OPE-L:1717] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?
From: Abelardo Mariņa Flores (abmf@prodigy.net.mx)
Date: Tue Nov 23 1999 - 01:51:34 EST

I have been following, with great interest, the discussion about the
"Uno-school" and
value-form theories raised by Nicola Taylor.

In my opinion, both Uno and Itoh accept that abstract labour is indeed
the substance of
value. I don't think that's the case with Sekine, and I don't know
Lapavitsas work (which
I would like to know). What they point out is that, in the capitalist
mode of production,
the substance of value has a social form of expression (value-form)
which, in general,
is not proportional to the quantity of labour actually expended in the
production sphere.
And this is not only the case for prices of production (due to the
formation of the general
rate of profit), but as well -and this is an important contribution of
the Uno-school- for
market value (because of structural disequilibria between sectoral
supplies and

The incompatibility that Itoh sees between the first and third sections
of chapter 1 is
that in the first section, as value-form is not yet considered by Marx,
the quantity of
substance of value *appears* in the exposition as identical to the
quantity of expended
labour (here the similarity with Ricardo's embodied labour theory).

In my opinion, Itoh's his proposed reconciliation of value and
value-form categories
does not neglect at all the substance of value. It just signals the
necessity to re-specify,
for each particular commodity, the quantitative determination of the
substance of value
(abstract labour) as the value-form evolves through successive levels of
Itoh, when examining Marx's theory of prices of production, recalls that
the cost-price,
itself a form of value, is "...the part of commodity *value* [my
emphasis] which is
necessary to replace the *price* of the means of production consumed and
the labour-power employed (...) enabling capitalists in each industry
(...) to
replenish the means of
production and labour-power as well as their substance of values
(ci+vi)." (The Basic
Theory of Capitalism: The Forms and Substance of the Capitalist Economy,
p. 201)

In the same level of abstraction which corresponds to the determination
of prices of
production, this idea is compatible with other author's interpretations.
For example:

1. Wolff, R.D., A. Callari y B. Roberts (1984), "A Marxian Alternative
to the Traditional
'Transformation Problem'", Review of Radical Political Economics, 16:
2/3: "Since
Marx's object here is a social situation in which circulation processes
are effective pre-
conditions for production, the relevant magnitude must be the price of
production of the
consumed means of production and not the abstract labour-time physically
embodied in
them." (p. 126)

2. Moseley, Fred (1993), "Marx's Logical Method and the Transformation
Problem" :
"...the past abstract labor represented by the constant capital will not
be equal to the
labor embodied in the means of production." (p. 171).

3. Kristjanson, David L. (1998), "Effective Demand and the Market Price
of Production",
paper presented at the IWGVT Mini-conference, New York, 1998: "It is the
magnitude of
socially necessary labour-time represented by the means of production in
exchange (i.e. its value-form) which determines the value transferred to
the commodity
in production not the labour required to produce these means of
production as use-values." (p. 5)

Now, this quantitative "re-specification" of the substance of value in
each sector in each
successive level of abstraction does not modify the *total* amount of
value created in the
economy. Therefore, the substance of value is still abstract labour and
the form of value
does not arise independently of the substance of value (as Nicola said
in OPEL-1672). It
just implies that in the process of determination of the value-forms (of
prices) abstract
labour is actually reallocated among sectors, not only because of the
formation of the
general rate of profit (due to intersectoral competition), *but also
because of the specific
quantitative interrelations between supply and demand for each commodity
(intrasectoral competition)*.

This last consideration is, in my opinion the most important insight of
Uno and Itoh's
perspective. The specification of market value, as quantitatively
different from the
average social value, and of market price of production as
quantitatively different from
price of production, can serve as the basis for the explanation of:
a) both differential and absolute rent, *without any reference to market
prices*, as a
result of the intersectoral reallocation of abstract labour due to
competition, (which, by the way, is a question made by John Ernst in
[OPE-L:1534] );
b) the persistence of differences in sectoral profit rates,
*independently of market price
fluctuations*, as a result of the intersectoral reallocation of abstract
labour due to
intrasectoral competition, which is simultaneous to the intersectoral
reallocation of
abstract labour due to general capitalist competition.

In Solidarity,
Abelardo Marina-Flores

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