From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 18:21:28 EST
Hi Andy, Another thought. Robert Vienneau at the end of this article http://www.dreamscape.com/rvien/Economics/Essays/sraffa.html includes a quotation from Sraffa's notebooks. I include the quotation below. Would it be fair to say that your view regarding the lack of quantitative identity, that is "the deviations from the aggregate equalities are *random* through time because OCCs have no structural relation with relevant categories of goods" is very similar if not identical to Sraffa's point of view? -- If so, that would make me the "tiresome objector". "The propositions of M[arx] are based on the assumption that the comp[osition] of any large agg[regate] of commodities (wages, profits, const[ant] cap[ital]) consists of a random selection, so that the ratio between their aggr[egate] (rate of s[urplus] v[alue], rate of p[rofits]) is approx[imately] the same whether measured at 'values' or at the p[rices] of prod[uction] corresp[onding] to any rate of s[urplus] v[alue]. This is obviously true, and one would leave it at that, if it were not for the tiresome objector, who relies on hypothetical deviations: suppose, he says, that the capitalists changed the comp[osition] of their consumption (of the same aggr[egate] price) to commod[itie]s of a higher org[anic] comp[osition], the rate of s[urplus] v[alue] would decrease if calc[ulated] at 'values', while it would remain unchanged at p[rices] of p[roduction], which is correct? - and many similar puzzles can be invented. (Better: the cap[italist]s switched part of their consumption from comm[oditie]s of lower to higher org[anic] comp[osition], while the workers switched to the same extent theirs from higher to lower, the aggr[egate] price of each remaining unchanged...) It is clear that M[arx]'s pro[position]s are not intended to deal with such deviations. They are based on the assumption (justified in general) that the aggregates are of some average composition. This is in general justified in fact, and since it is not intended to be applied to detailed minute differences it is all right. This should be good enough till the tiresome objector arises. If then one must define which is the average to which the comp[osite] should conform for the result to be exact and not only approximate, it is the St[andard] Comm[odity]... But what does this average 'approximate' to? i.e. what would it have to be composed of (what weights sh[oul]d the average have) to be exactly the St[andard] Com[modity]? i.e. Marx assumes that wages and profits consist approximately of quantities of [the] st[andard] com[modity]."
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