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

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Mar 24 2007 - 09:40:10 EDT

Quoting Ian Wright <wrighti@ACM.ORG>:

> Rakesh, Fred
> I agree that Pilling's book is in general exceptional.
>> Marxists are also blamed for the real contradictions of capitalist
>> production.
> 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.

I disagree.  I also assume equilibrium (equal rates of profit), and
there is no logical problem.  The difference betweeen us is simultaneous
vs. sequential determination, not equilibrium vs. disequilibrium.  That
is, if one assumes a different logical method (simultaneous
determination) from Marx's method (sequential determination), then
there is a logical problem.
But it has nothing to do with Marx's theory.

> 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
> project.

It is not just a matter of different theoretical goals.  In the real
capitalist economy, there is either sequential determination or
simultaneous determination of prices.  There cannot be both.  One of
these is right and the other is wrong.

And I argue that prices are determined sequentially, not
simultaneously, because:

1.  Commodities are *products of capital*, and the prices of
commodities are determined as components of capital which are in
circulation, i.e. as parts of M-C ... P ... C'-M'.

2.  This circulation of money capital is a real process, in real
historical time.  The M exists prior to the M'.  Therefore, the M is
not determined simultaneously with M', but prior to M'.  The
already-existing M is a determinant of M'.

3.  Simultaneous determination requires the following unrealistic assumptions:

a.  the inputs of means of production and labor-power enter capitalist
production *without prices*, as mere physical quantities, instead of as
components of capital, with already-existing prices, which determine in
part the prices of the outputs.

b.  all industries must have the same turnover time (so that prices can
be determined at the same time.

c.  partially used means of production must be treated as "joint products".

> Fred, would I be right in thinking that you will give a sequential
> determination reply to Ajit's critique that your reasoning is
> circular?

Yes, you are right.  Please see previous post.


This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 31 2007 - 01:00:12 EDT