From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Feb 20 2007 - 16:07:10 EST
After a night's sleep and some retrospection I realize that some of the remarks I made yesterday (see below) were a bit too grumpy and sarcastic. Without discussing the TP per se, I do want to say that I agree with Jurriaan when he emphasizes that values may be "contingently" above or below production prices and market prices. Jurriaan alluded to the temporal dimension, but surely the spatial dimension is important as well for comprehending unequal exchanges. If we consider the matter more concretely in terms of the world market then there are new issues and problems: Suppose there is one sector, called [X], where the sum of values equals the sum of prices of production. Now, suppose there is another sector, called [Y], where there are no PoP. Is there any reason to suppose that the commodities sold by [Y] are sold at prices in excess of their values? I think there is. If the capitalists in [X], however, pay rent to the capitalists in [Y], then this would suggest that in [X] values do not in fact equal PoP. If the rent is paid, instead of by the [X ]capitalists, by the working-class then could it still be claimed that the real wages of workers (working in both [X] and [Y]) equals the VLP? (I think it could be claimed that wages = VLP only on average and this means that wages would tend _not_ to equal the VLP at any single time or in any single place in the world market.) Another issue: what about the sum (not of PoP but) of market prices in relation to the sum of value? And, how does the sum of value relate to the sum of _wealth_ recalling that (non-human) nature can create wealth but not (by itself) value? Clearly the products of nature come to be _valued_, though, even if they do not represent _value_. Clean air (in the atmosphere, as distinct from manufactured oxygen) does not have value but may come to be _valued_. How can we grasp the _valuation_ of nature under capitalism using Marxian conceptions? [In mainstream theory, there is the concept of external costs.] How could one, for instance, calculate the _value_ of clean air from a Marxian perspective? By the costs in terms of LP and MP in terms of _cleaning_ the air? But, how does one know or estimate before the fact what those costs in the future will be? And wouldn't the value of clean air from the perspective of capital and the state be different from the 'value' of clean air from a working- class perspective? [Recalling Mike L's emphasis that social issues should not be one-sidedly looked at from the standpoint of capital. Nor should they be looked at only from the general standpoint of humanity. They need, as Mitch Cohen emphasized, to be looked at holistically. But has this been done? How could it be done?] As for unequal exchange, how do we know at any given point in time that there is or is not equal exchange on the _global_ level? If values may "contingently" be above or below production prices and market values, isn't it also the case that during some entire _epochs_ of capitalist history this could be the case? There are tricky questions of dynamics here: e.g. in any given social formation there is a standard for SNLT but this standard changes temporally and is different in different social formations. _How_ does it change? Presumably, on the world market there is a process by which there is not a SNLT for a particular society but a SNLT for the world capitalist economy as a whole. Yet, this standard changes temporally not only as a result of competition but also as a result of working-class struggles. One could grasp this process historically but I doubt whether it could be understood in any meaningful sense algebraically. There is much talk about value determination (and determination of PoP) but what about the determination of market prices? Some times Marxists simply revert to saying that individual market prices are determined by S and D. But, isn't there are a _class_ analysis that we can bring to an examination of the determination of market prices? Don't we have something more and different to say about market price determination than what has been said by mainstream economists? Don't we need some 'microeconomic' theory of market price determination rather than only a aggregate perspective? In solidarity, Jerry > If it was completed last year (2006) then it would no longer be > up-to-date. The relentless march 'forward' for new interpretations > of the TP continues. Like a coming-of-age ritual, young Marxian > scholars continue to boldly march off into the Wilderness in search > of the Holy Grail of Marxian economics. When they return from > their Quest, they inevitably report on their findings (many claiming > that they for the first time have unearthed the Grail!) but (mostly) > older and wiser Sages say that the Grail has yet to be found. And > thus new faces in new generations continue to march off in search of the > Marxian Grail. So it has been for well over a hundred years, so it > will continue: all that has been will be again. The Curtain will never > come down on this Act.
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