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

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Fri Mar 16 2007 - 12:48:20 EDT

--- Pen-L Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:

> Fred:
> Yes, you can.  You can “get a money measure of
> constant capital”
> (and
> also variable capital) from EMPIRICAL OBSERVATIONS
> long-period
> averages).  Capitalists invest a certain quantity of
> money capital (M)
> in the sphere of circulation, prior to the
> of output, to
> purcase means of production and labor-power.  This
> empirical quantity
> of money capital ALREADY EXISTS, prior to
> and therefore CAN
> BE TAKEN AS GIVEN AS SUCH in the determination of
> total price of
> the output and the total surplus-value (which is the
> main goal of the
> theory), as explained below:
> _______________________
> Ajit:
> Fred, I gave you an example. The capitalist has 50
> pounds of silver, which empirically already exists,
> with which he goes to buy constant capital and
> variable capital in the sphere of circulation. The
> prices of y and z and the wages of labor-power
> exists also. Who is denying that they don't exist.
> you tell me how is this capitalist investing this
> empirically existing money capital of 50 pounds of
> silver. That is the question. If capital letters
> substitute for arguments then life would be much
> easier.

I don’t understand your question.  Do you mean HOW
MUCH the
is investing?  The answer to HOW the capitalist is
investing is obvious
– to purchase means of production and labor-power.
The answer to HOW
MUCH is – it is what it is, in the real capitalist
economy, without
explanation at this point.  Whatever the capitalist
invests, be it the
whole 50 pounds or some part of it, that is what is
taken as given in
Marx’s theory.  The theory does not have to explain
(at least not to
begin with) why this amount is 50 pounds or 47 pounds
or whatever.  It
is what it is, as already spent, prior to the
production of the output,
and taken as given as such.  The main question of
Marx’s theory is:
how does the initial given M become (M + dM)?
How much is your M, Fred? Just tell me how much is
your M. If you are going to begin your theory with a
given M, you need to know how much it is. I'm not
asking for any explanation, just tell me how much it
is. Where do you get your data for M? If you are
unable to tell us how much is your M, then how could
you claim that M increases to (M + dM)? Just think
about it?
> 1.  The given empirical M is divided into C + V.  C
> the money
> capital advanced to purchase means of production,
> V is the money
> capital advanced to purchase labor-power.
> ______________________
> Ajit:
> So why not just take my example and show me how is
> done.
> __________________
> Fred:
> 2.  The given empirical C becomes one component of
> total price of
> the output (i.e. C is “transferred” to the price of
> the output).
> ____________________
> Ajit:
> So, how much is C in the example I gave above?
> __________________
> Fred:
> The other component of the total price is the new
> value produced by current
> labor (see #3 below), so that:
>        P  =  C  +  N
> The given empirical C becomes the first component of
> the price of the
> output, no matter what determines the magnitude of
> It is not
> necessary to know the determination C in order for C
> to be the first
> component of P.
> ___________________
> Ajit:
> But as I have shown above, you will not know C
> you know P.

I guess you would also know the unit prices, but these
would be
irrelevant data.  Unit prices play no role in Marx’s
I see!

> You may differentiate P of inputs from P
> of outputs and claim that P of inputs are known. If
> you are doing that, then clarify your position.

Yes, I am definitely distinguishing between prices of
inputs and prices
of outputs.  There is not simultaneous determination
in Marx’s
but rather sequential determination.  The prices of
the inputs (total
prices, not unit prices) are taken as given in the
determination of the
prices of the outputs (again total prices, not unit
prices), and most
importantly in the determination of the total
I'm sure I didn't go to the same school as you did.
But I, for the life of me, can't understand what is
this "total prices". What do you understand by the
concept of price?

> Fred:
> The first component of the total P is the actual
> empirical C (as indeed it is in reality), whatever
> magnitude of C.
> _____________________
> Ajit:
> Since I'm getting tired of your "empirical C", I
> ask you once again, what do you mean by "empirical
> When I walk around Paris I don't ever come across
> empirical C. So actually, it is somekind of data you
> must be getting from somewhere. Where are you
> this data from?

I have not saying that I have a data estimate for C.
I am saying that
C already exists, and is in principle observable, and
that this already
existing C is taken as given, whatever it is, in the
determination of
total value and total surplus-value.
If you don't have the data (in principle) then all
this talk about "given" and "empirically existing" is
pure non-sense.

> Fred:
> The first component of the total P is not a
> hypothetical quantity
> (equal to the labor-values of the means of
> as in the
> standard interpretation), because then the total P
> determined would be
> a hypothetical total P, not the actual total P,
> the theory is
> intended to explain.
> 3.  N is determined by the product of SNLT (L) and
> MELT (m), both
> of which are also taken as given:
>        N  =  m L
> ______________________
> Ajit:
> Who gave you m?

m in Capital is determined by the value of gold, which
is taken as
given (it is equal to the inverse of the value of a
unit of gold).
Without commodity money, the determination of m is
more problematic.  I
have written about this issue, and also discussed it
on OPEL, but I
would like to set this issue aside for now, and keep
the focus on the
given C and V.
But who is talking about Capital, the book? I want to
talk to you not Marx. You have introduced the little m
not Marx, and all your variables become non-sense
without the knowledge of the value of m. So it is
legitimate for anybody to ask you, how do you get your

> I take that L is data. However, you
> should keep in mind that your SNLT (L) is not
> "empirically given". You will need to do a lot of
> maniulations of the labor employment data and make a
> lot of assumptions to arrive at your SNLT. But I let
> this SNLT pass for now.

L is abstract labor (SNLT) and therefore is not
observable as such
(because of unequal skills and unequal intensities).
But it is assumed
to exist, even though not observable, and is assumed
to determine N.
Everything is *assumed to exist* even though they are
not *observable* but still you put them as variables
in quantitative equations add, subtract, multiply them
with whatever you feel like and all this is supposed
to be a theory, and that too Marx's theory?
Cheers, ajit sinha

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