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

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jan 27 2006 - 04:46:39 EST

In my terms 'immanent' and 'external' refer to *measures*.
weight has immanent measure (force in units of the Newton) and extrenal measure (say iron, say in units of a standard 'blocks')
mass has immanent measure ('quantity of matter' which doesn't have any units as such) and extrenal measure (could be blocks of iron again.. the units of an external measure are officially used to measure mass).
value has immanent measure (labour-time, in units of time) and extrenal measure (price, i.e quantity of money in appropriate units of money).
You are right that 'mass' is closer to 'value' in terms of a qualitative analogy. But weight is better when thinking about measures because it brings out how something intrinsically invisible is given a 'form of appearance' by being measured.
You write

" 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."

I reply:
Your position on this is crystal clear just from posts on OPE-L over the years. My view is not the one you suggest. I think value-form theory tends towards the view you suggest I might hold, equating value with general exchangeablility (Rubin certainly does this quite alot - always?). For me, value gives rise to general exchangeablity but by no means is it general exchangeablity. Instead value is congealed abstract labor. It is the labour that has gained the ability to generate exchange ratios (i.e. to give rise to general exchangeability in definite proportions.) Your trans-historical labour-time property of the technical conditions of production doesn't do this in all societies. Only in a specific society does the trans-historical property become congealed abstract labour, a substance inherent in the product, generating exchange ratios.

-----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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