Re: [OPE] The dependence of prices on labour values

From: Diego Guerrero <>
Date: Wed Feb 09 2011 - 02:03:01 EST

Hi, Jurriaan,

Sorry for the delay, I've been away from home several days. Thanks for your
comments and for stating your view. I agree with some things you said, but I
haven't understood two of them. What do you mean by "transformed production
price"? And can you go deeper into the difference between three things, not
two: material form, value-form and price-form?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2011 1:19 PM
Subject: [OPE] The dependence of prices on labour values

> Thanks Diego for the paper. I will state my view. The cost-price I think
> should not be confused with the input cost (as Marxists, neo-Ricardians
> and
> Sraffians usually do confuse them, or state it wrongly).
> Marx's cost-price is the cost-price of the newly produced commodity. That
> cost-price doesn't exist, before the commodity is produced and sold,
> except
> theoretically. That is the real point - when the real cost price is
> established, the costs have already been incurred, and cannot be changed.
> You produce products, and then you have a gross revenue out of the sales
> turnover, from which you deduct costs made, to establish income. But you
> don't know what the true production cost will be, before there has been
> any
> production, and before you have sold the products. Marx makes all this
> very
> explicit himself.
>>From the point of view of the accumulation of capital, Marx often assumed
> that "cost-price" and "input cost" are the same thing, and that "capital
> advanced" equals "capital consumed".
> That is only because Marx was interested in identifying the overall
> effects
> of capitalist dynamics in the production system (you can of course show
> how
> a series of iterations lead to a certain overall effect).
> Marx just assumed these two identities for the sake of argument -
> basically,
> because (1) he thought that "in aggregate result" the discrepancies do not
> really matter, and (2) because he was not concerned with a neo-Ricardian
> input-output relationship, but instead with a relationship between capital
> advanced, capital valorized and capital accumulated.
> When Marx talked about the transformation of commodity-values into prices
> of
> production, what he meant was that the exchange of newly produced
> commodities for money is no longer directly regulated by commodity values,
> but rather that this exchange is directly regulated by prices of
> production.
> Marx did not mean "a mathematical transformation of values into prices".
> That "academic" interpretation is idiotic anyway, since as Marx emphasizes
> any commodity has a value and a price at the same time, and what matters
> is
> precisely to what extent price is above value, below value or equal to
> value. That is the whole point. Marxists misrepresented this issue, by
> failing to understand the difference between material form, value-form and
> price-form.
> As Engels correctly grasped, Marx believed that, in the history of trade,
> originally, in most exchanges of wares, they were traded directly in
> conformity with their value (in the simple commodity production which
> Marx's
> simple exchange presupposes, labour costs are quite transparent, since
> mostly the producer trades the whole product of his own labour), but that
> capitalist production changed all this to a trade according to production
> price (in a more complex division of labour, obviously, the "total labour
> cost" to which Ian Wright refers is no longer transparent). Engels
> thought,
> that the first trade according to production price would have emerged in
> the
> 16th century, with the first significant sectors of capitalist
> manufactures
> in city states.
> So, Marx's "transformation" is intended to be both:
> - a logical/theoretical transformation of the categories of political
> economy in line with a new reality (expressing the divergence of value
> from
> price)
> - an historical transformation in the production and distribution system
> (a
> change in the production regime)
> - a practical transformation in consciousness (the way the discrepancy or
> contradiction between value and price is mediated in practice by
> businesspeople)
> In modern society, the operative production price is really a
> "transformed"
> production price. It includes tax costs, subsidies, and ancillary benefits
> and costs which have to do with market position and the monetary/credit
> regime. The cost structure of production today is not the same as it was
> in
> Marx's time.
> Jurriaan
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Received on Wed Feb 9 02:06:18 2011

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