Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Wed Sep 28 2005 - 05:08:28 EDT

Dear Ian, Rakesh, Paul C. and Jerry:

I have been travelling, therefore I have had to postpone my answer:

The only point I want to make is this: In a real economy, not one where
there is proportional growth in every branch (like the one implied in Paul's
Mole-Sraffian notion), we have only one way to know which has been the rate
of growth of the economy in physical terms. We have to use labour and
measure its quantities in a physical unit: hours, etc. The other possible
way is starting from money quantities and deflacting them, but this is not a
"real" mesure. So, when we speak of a physical surplus for an economy (real
economy) as a whole we have to be conscious that there can be no other
physical measure that quantities of time (of labour) unless we renounce to
know if this economy is growing or decreasing, etc.

Marx once wrote about Adam Smith being too Scottisch. I would say that those
who can conceive of an aggregate physical surplus in terms others than
labour-Time are too Scottisch as well.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

> Diego Guerrero wrote:
>> Is not R in Sraffa's theory the maximun rate of profit? If so, it is a
>> ratio or quotient between two "things" that must have some (physical)
>> dimension. For instance, in Marxian theory, the rates of profit and
>> surplus value are also quotients. They have no dimension but are the
>> ratios of quantities of labour or money (measured in hours or euros).
>> So, the rate of profit is an (maximum) eigenvalue as well, but this pure
>> number is the quotient of two units that are in fact the same "thing".
>> But again: which is the physical unit of the standard commodity? It must
>> have one and I cannot conceive of nothing different from labour.
>> Diego
> Fair point about R being a ratio. The things of which it is a ratio
> are vectors of commodities. I dont have any difficulty thinking of this.
> Many ordinary commodities are themselves vectors of their components.
> Consider NKP fertilizer used on farms, this is a simple mixture of
> nitrate,
> potassium salts and phosphates. Despite being a mixture it
> has physical bulk and can be quantified.
> Sraffa's abstraction is essentially similar to the chemists notion
> of a Mole, a gram of a compound specified in fixed proportions
> corresponding
> to the molecular structure.

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