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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Thu Feb 09 2006 - 12:47:00 EST

Hi Paul

>  The reason they cause difficulty is that they represent two different
> historical/class standpoints.
> The labour theory of value expresses the viewpoint of the independent
> artisan or the employed worker. To them, labour is the only source of
> value.
> The price of production theory expresses the viewpoint of capital - that
> capitals self expanding power is the source of all new value.
> To the extent that one class or the other predominates in practice, the
> two theories approximate better of less to reality.

I think you're mixing up value-theory with divergence of labour-value
and prices of production.

I agree that different classes are necessarily inclined to a
particular theory of value due to their role in the economy. For
example, from the perspective of the capitalist, the source of profit
in variable capital is obliterated. Similarly, if workers strike it
quickly becomes apparent that profit ceases without their work.

But the class struggle does not cause different theories of value. At
no point did Marx agree with Ricardo that the nature of capitalism is
such that the labour theory of value can only be an approximation to
reality. He said labour values diverge from prices of production, but
in the aggregrate, price-accounting is a direct representation of
labour-value (at the level of abstraction of ch. 9). His theory of
value is intended to explain capitalism as an object of scientific
study, irrespective of class position.

Otherwise the theory of value is subjective. Not subjective in the
sense of utility theory, but subjective relative to classes. The
theory of economic value is then merely a social construction. Do you
really think that if workers are militant and successful in their
reformist struggles, and get more of the net product, then "their"
value-theory becomes more true?

> As the rate of surplus value approches zero, the dispersion of prices
> around values will by F&M's argument become smaller and smaller.
> Conversely a high rate of surplus value and a preponderance of
> capital in the capital/labour struggle will result in a wider dispersion
> of the price value ratio and allow the operation of production prices
> to come into effect.

And also in a deterministic framework as the rate-of-profit approaches
zero, prices approach proportionality to Sraffian labour values.

I do not agree with your explanation for why the "special case" is a
problem for the labour theory of value.


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