From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 14 2007 - 13:22:51 EDT
Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>: > Hi Fred, > > Well first this passage is not actually about the infrequency of > changes in unit values. The constancy in prices of production for > any branch of production is compatible with changing unit values in > the respective branches. As long as productivity growth is fairly > proportional across branches, their prices of production may remain > fairly stable in both absolute and relative terms, and the periods > of excessive market prices for any one branch may well be balanced by > periods of weak market prices, such that over time the respective > branches will all have made an average rate of profit. > > In using this passage as proof of the constancy of unit values, you > are ignoring your point that prices of production should not be > conflated with unit prices and values! > > Secondly unit values are not affected only by or even mainly by > changes in labor productivity to which Marx refers in the passage > below but by changes in the unit values of the means of production. > But Marx focuses on only one reason for a change in unit values in > the passage below--change in direct labor productivity. Why? > > Well, it is quite possible that changes in the absolute and relative > level of prices of production for any one branch would change if > there were explosive growth in direct labor productivity. In other > words, if a branch were all of a sudden to leap from a low OCC to > high OCC, then one would see the sum of the market prices of that > branch's produced commodities changing both absolutely and as a > relative portion of total prices. Market prices would not be seen to > be hovering around stable prices of production in that case. > > But it does not follow that Marx thinks unit values are constant in > all the other branches as the unit values of the goods which are > consumed as means of production will have tendentially continued to > decline, bringing about a constant reduction in unit values. The > prices of production--which are defined at the branch level--can > remain stable with market prices hovering around them while unit > values and use values continue to move in inverse direction. Hi Rakesh, The kind of scenario that you suggest (constant and more or less proportional changes of values for all commodities) is possible, but there is no indication in this passage that this kind of scenario is what Marx had in mind. And, even in this case, if the prices of production of outputs remain constant over longer periods of time, then so will the prices of production of the inputs, and thus the prices of production of the inputs will be equal to the prices of production of the outputs, as I have argued. In addition, I think that Marx thought that prices of production would remain constant prolonged periods because the values of commodities remain more or less constant over longer periods and would change only occasionally for any single commodity. At least this is what he assumed in his theory of prices of production. > As far as I can see this is the only passage from volume 3 that > either you or Allin has quoted to demonstrate that Marx believed that > unit values were even roughly constant over time. I would say that you have not provided any textual evidence in which Marx states that he assumes in his theory of prices of production that the values of commodities change “ceaselessly”. The textual evidence that you have cited at the end of Chapter 9 of Volume 3 makes the theoretical point that changes in prices of production are caused by changes in the values of commodities, either in the final goods or in the means of production that are inputs for the final goods. Marx does not state in these pages that he assumes that values are changing all the time for all commodities. He simply argues that, when prices of production do change, they change because of a change of values. This argument implies nothing about the frequency of these changes. You INFER from these pages that Marx assumes that the values of all commodities are changing all the time. But that is an inference that you are making; it is not an inference that Marx made. So I don’t think these pages provide any support for your interpretation. Rakesh, are you arguing that constant capital is valued at the actual historical prices of production of the means of production (at the time the means of production were purchased)? If so, then I think this is clearly a misinterpretation of Marx’s theory. There is tons of textual evidence, which I have presented on numerous occasions (but not recently), that Marx assumed that constant capital is valued at the CURRENT prices of production of the means of production (as inputs, as already evidenced by the purchase of the means of production on the market). So that, if there is a change in the current prices of production of the means of production on the market, then the value of the constant capital invested in all similar means of production still in process (i.e. before the output produced with these means of production are sold) is revalued to equal the current prices of production of these means of production. Rakesh, do you agree or disagree with this? Comradely, Fred ---------------------------------------------------------------- This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
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