[OPE-L:1934] Re: Determination of Value

Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Thu, 16 Dec 1999 09:00:45 -0500 (EST)

I owe Andrew K a reply:
Way back on September 30, Andrew K wrote a 7-part series,
[OPE-L:1374-1381], that began with the following prefatory remarks:

> The seven posts that follow, Determination of Value, 1 through 7,
> are the seven sections of a recent paper of mine, "Determination
> of Value in Marx and in Bortkiewiczian Theory."
> Sections 3 through 6 examine the textual evidence concerning
> Marx's concept of the value transferred from the constant capital
> to the product. They examine whether he held that this sum of
> value is determined simultaneously, or whether he held that it is
> determined temporally.
> These sections contain the most exhaustive review of the evidence
> on this matter to date. They are based on a study of the
> Grundrisse, the 1861-63 economic manuscript, and the three volumes
> of Capital.
> These posts constitute a partial reply to Duncan's posts on the
> MELT -- specifically his comment that Fred's textual evidence has
> shown that Marx was a simultaneist. The posts therefore also
> constitute a response to Fred's posts and other writings on this
> issue. Finally, they constitute a response to Jerry's recent
> comment that no one has shown that Marx held that value is
> "conserved" intertemporally.

While Andrew went on sometime later to suggest which sections of his paper
I should look at regarding the last sentence, I subsequently accidentally
deleted that message. However, in reviewing the entire series (including
the textual evidence from Marx), I don't really see this issue (the
conservation of value in Marx) being discussed.

The issue we had been discussing on the list concerned "the conservation
and destruction of value" (and, relatedly, Marx's understanding of this
question). Most notably, it concerned whether aggregate value *could be
diminished* in some way other than use. I.e. once created in
production, how can it be diminished? What it did *NOT* concern was
whether value could be "created" through the act of exchange (all agreed
that it could not be).

The real issue, I suppose, is whether there is reason to believe -- both
as an interpretation of Marx and otherwise -- whether the value "lost" by
some capitalists will of necessity be "gained" to the exact same extent by
other capitalists (i.e. whether, following production, value can only be
re-distributed among capitalists [and perhaps others, like landowners] or
whether the "losses" of individual capitalists *can*, under certain
conditions, represent a decrease in aggregate value).

Whatever the merits of Andrew's paper may be, I don't see it as really
speaking to this question (and, indeed, I don't think it was intended to
address that issue).

In solidarity, Jerry

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