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

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 18:28:37 EST

Hi Fred,

Yes, I understand the problem you're attacking is a bit different than the
target I have in mind and stumble not over the analysis so much as the
phrase "analytical framework."

I agree with you that M-C-M' identifies the main question of Bk I.  I would
put it a bit more pointedly:  this is the phenomenon to be explained.
Presenting it as such is powerfully important I think.  Now we look for what
does the explaining, and once we have the explanatory mechanism we can step
back and appraise the analytical framework.  As I said last summer I expect
that will have to do with the reproduction of the social relation of

The question of initial givens begins to go to the specific question you
address re Sraffa.

Now you say here that the main question(s) posed in volume 3 goes to the
division of the surplus into individual parts.  Your post earlier this
afternoon could be read to say, though perhaps you do not say, that volume 3
is about prices of production.  Michael Heinrich in his article on capital
in general can be read, with something of the same qualification, to say
that volume 3 is about the equalization of the rate of profit.  He can also
be read to say that volume 2 is about the actual proportionate exchange of
the material results of production such that reproduction is possible.

Yet these suggestions are not nearly as clear as what we have said about the
main question of vol. 1.  If we are to talk of the logic of capital, we need
to know what the phenomena to be explained are first, and, as Jerry
suggested, situate these questions appropriately at the level of abstraction
with which we deal (though I think Jerry and I might very well have
different ideas of what we mean by abstraction).

Also, until that's been done, it is pretty hard to make a case for flaws or
inconsistencies in the logic of capital.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Pen-L Fred Moseley" <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 5:24 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

Quoting Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>:

> Hi Fred,
> I have a worry somewhat independent of the issues you raise with Diego.
> We already jousted about this during the summer.
> You refer to Marx's "analytical framework" as being M - C - M'.
> M - C - M' is a phenomenon of circulation.  It is implausible to me that
> either the logic of capital or the framework for its analysis is  provided
> by circulation.

Hi Howard,

I don't think we have a serious disagreement here.

I say that the "analytical framework" of Marx's theory is the
circulation of money capital (M - C . P . C' - M') (which includes P as
you noted later) because:

1.  it identifies the MAIN QUESTION(s) to be answered by Marx's theory
- how M becomes (M + dM), and what determines the magnitude of dM;

2.  it identifies some of the INITIAL GIVENS in Marx's theory - the
initial M, the quantities of money capital advanced to purchase means
of production and labor-power at the beginning of the circulation of
money capital (the M in M-C .).

You are concerned that this seems to leave out Marx's explanation of
surplus-value (dM) in production.  But I agree that Marx's analytical
framework also includes production and living labor as the source of
surplus-value (the P phase in the circulation of money capital).  Also
taken as given in Marx's theory, in order to explain dM, are quantities
of SNLT and the MELT (the quantity of money value produced per hr. of

The main point I have been emphasizing is that Marx's analytical
framework is very different from the analytical framework of Sraffa's
theory, which:

1.  asks a different set of questions (the determination of relative
unit prices and the rate of profit);

2.  takes as given physical quantities of inputs and outputs.

I am not arguing now that Marx's theory is superior to Sraffa's theory;
that is a separate question, which I would be happy to discuss.  What I
am arguing now is that the analytical framework of Marx's theory is
fundamentally DIFFERENT from Sraffa's theory.  And that, once Marx's
different analytical framework is understood, the alleged "logical
contradictions" in Marx's theory disappear.  These contradictions
appear only as a result of a misinterpretation of Marx's theory, as
essentially the same as Sraffa's theory.

Howard, do you see my point about the different initial givens -
quantities of money capital vs. quantities of physical inputs and
outputs - in Marx's theory and Sraffa's theory?  What do you think?

> I'm interested in your reference to the logic of capital.  Have you said
> below that the logic of capital, as you use the term, is the same in
> I as in volume III?

What I am saying is that the same quantities of money capital - the
quantities of money capital advanced to purchase means of production
and labor-power at the beginning of the circulation of money capital -
are taken as given, both in the theory of the total surplus-value in
Volume 1 and in the theory of prices of production in Volume 3.
Otherwise, the logic of Volume 3 is very different from the logic in
Volume 1, because the two volumes are about different questions.
Volume 1 is mainly about the determination of the total surplus-value,
and Volume 3 is mainly about the division of the total surplus-value
into individual parts.


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