Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Fri Feb 23 2007 - 05:30:47 EST

Hi Jerry,


I think that we have to proceed in steps in the analysis of prices. Before dealing with the price of non-produced commodities, we have to look at the general case: reproducible goods. For these, my view is: total of values = total of prices of production = total of market prices.


There is no doubt that Iraqi antiquities were part of the surplus-labour realized at the moment, not of present surplus-value. But again, before considering the relation between the capitalist mode of production and other modes of production, we should analyse the former in its purity (this applies also to the Inuits). As for the tigers they are the result of a production process and so a normal commodity. It is true that tigers are part of Nature but not more than minerals or oil.


I think that most cases you cite are examples of the non-freely-reproducible goods of which Ricardo already spoke, to which does not apply the main norm of the LTV, because their price is determined by demand. In conventional terms, their supply is a vertical line, so the price can be any depending on the intensity of demand.


Best regards,


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jerry Levy 
  Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2007 5:00 PM
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

  I mean total values or direct prices = total produuction prices = total market prices. Of course, ground-rent, taxes, etc., amount to a new deviation from p to m, but the sum of these deviations has to be 0 because of all those elements are not but deductions from surplus value (= profit).

  Hi Diego:

  This would be true if all goods were commodities in the fullest
  sense of the term.  But, for instance, there are objects which were 
  never produced with the intention of being sold.  You might recall that
  during the invasion of  Iraq  the major antiquities museum was looted.
  Undoubtedly, the plunder was then priced and sold.  Is that plunder
  to be treated merely as a deduction from surplus value?  When 
  tigers are illegally killed in national forests and reserves in India and
  then sold to customers in Tibet and China for ritual and 'medicinal'
  purposes, is that to be treated merely as a deduction from s?  
  Would that be the case even if the buyers weren't capitalists as
  consumers or firms?  When Inuit sell whale meat at a modest
  cost to fellow Inuit is that also to be considered a deduction from 
  surplus value?  When, in today's economy,  individuals are taken by 
  force and sold as sex slaves to private customers is that 
  valuation in price also to be considered to be a deduction from surplus 
  value even if the customer is a wage-worker? Are the items taken from 
  the tomb of Tutantamen, to the extent that they some of those items 
  came to be sold, to be treated as a deduction from surplus value?  If 
  you were to walk along a beach in Madrid and find ambergris and then 
  sell it to your neighbor, should that be considered to be a deduction 
  from surplus value?  Is a black book painting made by a graffiti artist 
  which was never intended for sale but was eventually thrown in the garbage 
  and picked-up by someone else and sold to another artist or collector  to 
  be considered a deduction from surplus value, regardless of the class 
  membership of the buyer?  If  someone found a lock of my hair and sold it 
  to a company specializing in genetic mapping and DNA research, 
  should that also be considered to be a deduction from surplus value? 
  (On a related note,  have you heard in Spain about Brittany Spears' shaving of 
  her head?  Did you also hear that someone, not Brittany,  tried to put up her 
  hair for sale on E-Bay?  The bidding reportedly went above $1 million before 
  E-Bay took it off for sale because they claimed that its authenticity wasn't 
  verified.  Had her hair, though, been sold should the monetary price associated 
  with the sale have been treated merely as a deduction from surplus sale?)  Is 
  the money paid for the posters made by an artists collective during the May-June, 
  1968 revolt in Paris or by the Council for the defense of Madrid in 1937 which 
  can be purchased now at art galleries in New York City and elsewhere to be 
  considered to be a mere deduction from surplus value?  Is there any reason 
  to suppose then when we look at the subject more concretely  that the sum
  of all of the deviations has to be -0-?   One has to remember what were the 
  assumptions embodied within the equalities suggested by Marx and the 
  the level of abstraction appropriate for those equalities.

  In solidarity, Jerry

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