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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Wed Feb 28 2007 - 23:17:46 EST

Quoting Diego Guerrero <diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES>:

> Hi, Fred,
> You have now understood my "m".

Thanks, I am glad to finally understand your "m".  And I would say that
you have finally explained more clearly what you mean by "m".  This is
a very important point, and should not be buried in footnote 24 of your
paper.  It should be discussed and emphasized the first time you
mention "market price" on p. 2, especially since your defintion is
different from Marx's usual one.  And in the text, not in a footnote.
And maybe briefly mention in your abstract.

> It is as you say and I think "actual
> long-run center of gravity prices" would be a good name for them. I have to
> check later your quotation of Marx, but I think this is my point. Thanks for
> calling my attention towards the Marx's "real production price". When Duncan
> Foley read my paper he first raised the same objection as you concerning the
> meaning of my "market prices". Then I replied him the following:
> <<In note xxiv of my paper I wrote: "Note that the m have to be understood
> in the statistical sense, i.e. as average magnitudes in time and space,
> because it is possible for any commodity that every actual day-to-day
> transactions is made at prices that all differ from the average m. The fact
> that p prices are averages of the m in another sense should not veil the
> understanding that in practice the m that can be known as data at the macro
> level are averages of the actual m. Of course, the same can be said of all
> categories in my table, which means that in it are represented their annual
> (or other periods of time) averages, not their day-to-day magnitudes.">>
> And after this he wrote me:
> <<It seems that you are interposing another level of abstraction here, which
> is the centers of gravity around which actually measured market prices in a
> concrete economic situation gravitate. From the point of view of the SSLTV
> (the "new interpretation", which Gerard Dumenil and I would like to get
> people to call the "single-system labor theory of value") this is perfectly
> legitimate, since there is not special significance to prices of production
> at this level.>>
> Therefore, it seems like if it were a question of names and of levels of
> abstraction. Therefore what I am reclaiming makes sense to me: we have to
> change from the usual approach in just two levels (values and prices of
> production) to a more complete approach in 3 levels:
> 1) in the first level we make m = w;
> 2) in the second, m = p;
> 3) finally, m = what Marx calls "real price of production", that is
> different from w and p.
> What do you think?

I think that you are largely correct here, and that it is important to
move on and extend Marx's theory to lower levels of abstraction.

However, I also think that it is also important to continue to show and
emphasize that Marx's determination of prices of production in Volume 3
is logically correct and complete (so far as it goes, excluding more
concrete levels of abstraction).  Borkeiwicz' critique is wrong,
because it is based on a misinterpretation of Marx's logical method.
This point needs to be firmly established as the latest chapter in the
long debate on the "transformation problem".  Then the next chapter
would be the extension of Marx's theory to lower levels of abstraction,
as you suggest.

I agree that this next chapter should become a priority, but I also
want to make sure that we finish this latest chapter.


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