[OPE-L:3771] Revisiting the Unimportance of the Transformation Problem

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 06 2000 - 23:01:50 EDT

[ show plain text ]

There is a very interesting, new paper by Alejandro Ramos, "Value and
Price of Production: New Evidence on Marx's Transformation Procedure",
*Int. Journal of Political Economy*, Winter 98-99 but only in print very
recently. The basic message is that Engels' edition of Volume 3 left out
portions of text in which Marx clearly puts forward a second illustration
of the transformation problem. Furthermore, Bortkiewicz even distorted
what Engels did publish, distorted in a manner to support his own
two-system interpretation of Marx's attempted solution.

Bourgeois opposition to Marx (Bortkiewicz and Tugan-Baranowsky) tried to
stir up a tempest in a teapot and actually were pretty successful in their
endeavor (even Bortkiewicz's distortion has not been noticed by many -- he
simply, presumably deliberately, left out portions of Marx's tables --
Chapter 9, Volume 3, see second and third tables).

Ramos' paper may not be the final answer, but I think his paper cannot be
ignored by those within the Marxist tradition (those outside will continue
to do their thing, I suppose).

Below is my response to Chai-on in 3753:

"Chai-on Lee" <conlee@chonnam.ac.kr> said, on 09/06/00:

>Paul would fall into a self-contradiction if he still finds any
>difference between total surplus value and total profit, and total value
>and total price while arguing "Let's get over the transformation

I don't think the difference between total surplus value and total profit
is any more or less important than the transformation problem overall.
Ramos' paper touches on this issue (p. 62).

>As far as we can ignore those who discriminate between value
>and price in every aspect, we can get over the transformation problem and
>move to much more significant subjects. They have been tying us for
>hundred years to such a trivial subject. I think Marx was right and we
>need not bother to derive labor-values from price data. Let us just
>assume the aggregate prices of constant capital elements to be identical
>to the value of constant capital and the aggregate prices of labor-powers
>as identical with the variable capital value. The debate is a

The above corresponds my point of view -- that too much time spent on this
debate is a waste of our collective intellectual resources (although of
course brand new evidence like Ramos' need to be brought out).

Related to this issue, I think that the recent dialogue Fred began is
dependent upon there being a transformation problem of serious importance.
If we go with the assumption of Volume One, I do not see how Fred is
raising any issue at all, in spite of his efforts to get our attention
(sorry, Fred, but this is how I see it).

Paul Z.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Sep 30 2000 - 00:00:04 EDT