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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 23 2007 - 14:18:14 EDT

>Rakesh, Fred
>I agree that Pilling's book is in general exceptional.
>>Marxists are also blamed for the real contradictions of capitalist
>I also agree that Marx's proposed solution of the classical
>contradiction between the labour theory of value and capitalist
>profits, that prices are transformed labour-values, is unique in the
>sense that it aims both to resolve the contradiction and additionally
>explain the necessity for its existence in the mind of pro-capitalist
>theorists. Unfortunately, in the special case of equilibrium, Marx's
>critics scored a point. The transformation problem derails this train
>of thought. Putting it back on track requires, I think, that the
>special case be addressed, not avoided. Fred this is why I currently
>view your macro-monetary interpretation, if restricted to sequential
>determination, as tangential to this goal. But it is ok to have
>different theoretical goals, when understood to be part of a broader
>Fred, would I be right in thinking that you will give a sequential
>determination reply to Ajit's critique that your reasoning is
>Best wishes,

As Michele Naples argued long ago, if LTV incompatible with
equilibrium--two equalities over-determine
the set of transformation equations--then capitalism may well be
incompatible with equilibrium, not the law of value. That is, one
cannot deduce the falsity of the LTV from its incompatibility with
equilibrium. You once agreed that Naples was quite right.
At any rate, Shaikh's solution certainly does not prove the LTV and
assumes it throughout its iteration. But the two equalities can be
shown to hold in a real sense in these unreal conditions. And I see
no reason why the mass of surplus value should not change as the cost
prices are changed since surplus value is total value, monetarily
expressed, minus cost prices which are being modified in a so called
complete transformation. If the equilibrium mass of profit seems
larger than initial mass of surplus value, all that would have
happened is that  wage goods and/or means of production were bought
below value and this allowed for a nominal increase in the mass of
surplus value as expressed in profit. Big deal. As far as problems in
theories of value go, this is as about as trivial as one get. A
trivial problem in unreal conditions. But there is no criticism too
trivial to throw at Marx.

At any rate, Marx never said that the cost prices had been left
unmodified in the form of simple prices or price values or values. He
has been misread for a very long time.


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