Re: [OPE-L] price of production/supply price/value

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Tue Feb 07 2006 - 15:42:18 EST

Hi Andy

> -something (say price) that has no necessary relation to something else
> (say feasible reproduction proportions) cannot continually cause the
> latter.
> You are effectively denying this premise, as far as I can tell.

No. If I gave that impression then I didn't explain myself clearly --
sorry about that.

Let's say price has a necessary relation to feasible reproduction
proportions (and vice-versa). That is the "something" that is
continually causing the "latter". But those prices need not refer to
some common non-price substance (the "other" scalar). It is possible
that there is simply a relation between price (phenomenal scalars) and
a configuration (not a substance, simply a structure of relations). I
think this is how many anti-essentialist neo-Ricardians view the
matter. (E.g., I think this motivated Ajit's work with Paul on how the
choice of numeraire affects the direction of price movements. Ajit
thinks a dynamic theory of value is meaningless. -- Again, I don't
agree, but the logical consistency of this view is undeniable, at
least if the TP is accepted.)

> This is
> so because you agree that price is causing production relations and you
> agree that price is a scalar. Yet you deny that any scalar (price or
> otherwise) is necessarily related to feasible reproduction proportions.

No, the neo-Ricardian critique says that the labour-value scalars are
not "necessarily" related to "feasible production proportions". But
prices can be.

> In other words you are saying that something with no necessary relation
> with feasible reproduction proportions (price, as determined by a
> Sraffian calculation) is continually causing feasible reproduction
> proportions (it must be since if it didn't capitalism would have
> collapsed long ago). Before we go any further on this could I ask
> whether or not I have understood you correctly thus far?

I think you may have misunderstood.

> If you simply
> deny the above stated premise then it is the premise we should be
> discussing. If not, then you must be arguing that the above premise is
> not violated by the neo-R 'refutation' of the LTV (but I don't yet see
> how your argument can be sustained).

The latter. The question is whether prices need to represent some
other "substance", not whether prices can affect economic

I note your point about it being a bit "silly to argue that the scalar
we are after is exactly proportional to market prices. Rather at a
very abstract level, we may find *aggregate* equalities holding (i.e.
the level of vol. 3, ch.9, at least where inputs are not transformed)
but surely at more concrete levels they won't."

The point of the N-R critique is that even at the very abstract level
Marx's value theory cannot have the explanatory role it is supposed
to. But Marx held (and in this I think he was correct) that we *will*
(not may) find the aggregate equalities holding, at the very abstract
level of prices of production.

> -the total available labour-time to society is equal to the total
> available production time to society. That is, there is a finite amount
> of production that can be done in any given time period and this
> 'available production time' is entirely determined by, indeed the same
> as, the available labour-time

Yes this is true.

> On my argument, this proposition makes labour-time the only scalar that
> could possibly continually cause feasible reproduction proportions.

But the existence of another scalar, other than price, which underlies
price accounting, is what is in question. The neo-Ricardian critique
attacks Marx right at the very foundation of his project.


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