Re: [OPE-L] price of production/supply price/value

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jan 26 2006 - 17:39:45 EST

Not sure whether you have helped Rakesh here. You have weight as form of
appearance of mass. But the analogy you want is the immanent and
external measure of weight itself. Weight is not a form of appearance of
anything because it is invisible  - like value. Rather if you think of a
pair of scales then what happens is that we tend to think of having
'weights' on one end, and items whose weight we wish to measure on the
other. The form of appearance of weight is then the 'weights' (blocks of
iron or whatever) we are using. The external measure is the quantity of
these 'weights'. The immanent measure is that of force (meaured in
Newtons I suppose) because 'weight' really is a force, hence its real
measure is in units of force.
I think the analogy has more to it than you concede.

Firstly mass is in your terms what is immanent, weight what
is external. Weight as you say is a force, but it is a force
engendered by an interaction - analogous to the exchange relation -
between two objects with mass the world and the object
we are weighing. Mass is what the two objects have in
common ( analogous here to the value that M says the
commodities have in common ).
The big news for value is that, unlike weight, it can't exist without
being measured. Here, I think, is where you and I disagree. On my view,
this disanalogy with weight is where all the devilish difficulties of
value lie, and why Marx's terminology can be difficult.

I think this is where we may disagree. I think we use the term value
slightly differently. By value I mean the labour content, I suspect
that by value you mean something closer to what I would call
generalised exchange value. The latter obviously does not exist
unless there are exchanges which in their turn measure the value.

The former is a property of the technical conditions of social
and would exist even without commodity exchange - in a non commodity
producing society. Such a society might or might not have a mechanism
for measuring the allocation of social labour, but the necessity to 
allocate the labour ( whether by explicit calculation or by simple
custom and practice as in M's account of traditional Indian villages )
would still remain. In this way value - abstract social labour will
to have social effects even if it is not measured.

Thus at the basis what we are arguing about may just be the usage
of terms. 
-----Original Message----- 
From: OPE-L on behalf of Paul Cockshott 
Sent: Thu 26/01/2006 12:14 
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] price of production/supply price/value

        Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
        >> Rakesh
        > Ian and Jurriaan,
        > the question I am getting at is simple: how can we speak of
        > divergences if price of production is itself a form of value?
If price
        > of production is a form of value, then how can a form of value
        > from value? Donkeys may be a form of animal, but
        > we don't speak of donkeys diverging from animals.
        I think that if you use the phrase 'form or representation' or
        'form of appearance' it should be clearer.
        A representation is something other than what is represented.
        Weight is a form of representation of mass, but is not identical
        to it. Take a kilogram mass to the moon and its weight will
        change, but whether on the moon or on earth, mass can
        still be represented in weight. Similar problems exist in other
        forms of metrology - to go from socially conventional standards
        of measurement to objective measures.
        The objective measure of value is social labour time required
        to produce things - but to determine this requires a vast body
        information that is typically unavailable in a capitalist
economy, but
        which should be available in a planned economy. Price acts as
        a representation of value, and, by studies using I/O tables we
        get some idea of how accurate it is as a representation.
        An analogous situation exists today with the attempts to get an
        accurate definition of the Coulomb of charge. This is
        defined in terms of electrostatic force, but objectively it
        be defined in terms of an integral number of electron charges.
        But to derive a measure in terms of electron charges requires
        a technology that is not yet fully available, so it has been
        defined in terms of forces. But this technical limitation does
        mean that there is no such thing as an objective charge in
        which, with better techniques, we shall be able to measure.
        > There seems to be a lot terminological confusion in Marx.
        > What I am proposing is that we call simple price one form of
value and
        > price
        > of production another form of value (neither of course is
        > price, so we can
        > still speak of a divergence between value and price;
        > for example the difference between market price and price of
        > production is
        > a practically important divergence between price and value,
but not
        > the difference between
        > price of production and simple price which is simply a
difference between
        > two forms of value). Simple price and price of production are
        > forms of value;
        > however the former is counterfactual and the latter is
        > social valid (I think
        > Paul C and Allin grant that there is at least a weak tendency
        > profit rate
        > equalization). Hence
        > my equation value=price of production=supply price.
        > At any rate, just trying to clarify my confusion and the
        > in Marx's texts. Hope this helps.
        > Jurriaan, I hope the terminological confusion is clear even if
        > you take my attempt to resolve it as poetic.
        > Yours, Rakesh
        >> Surplus-value is redistributed to capitalists according to
        >> invested, rather than the number of workers they employ in
        >> sector.
        >> The problem with this argument is step (iii): you can't
conclude that
        >> *both* (a) and (b) are false from the contradiction in (ii).
        >> course, the fact that Marx doesn't transform cost prices, and
lacks a
        >> general equilibrium framework, is cause for further doubt
        >> the precise details of his argument, at least if we do the
        >> thing and abstract from the dynamic process of the formation
of the
        >> general rate of profit.
        >> The problem with simply specifying a MELT to translate
between prices
        >> of production and values, as you are proposing, is that,
according to
        >> the neo-Ricardian critique, not all Marx's aggregates (total
profit =
        >> total surplus-value, total price = total value, and rate of
profit =
        >> value rate of profit) will hold. According to this
formalisation of
        >> the problem, there is no MELT that can do this, including
Foley's. So
        >> the quantitative connection between value and price
accounting is
        >> missing, and Marx's thesis of conservation of value in price
        >> So that's why I think the argument requires more, even if I
agree with
        >> the direction you are taking it.
        >> Best,
        >> -Ian.
        Paul Cockshott
        Dept Computing Science
        University of Glasgow
        0141 330 3125

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