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

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 04:20:15 EST

Hi Ian,

One of the key aspects of your argument, as I understand it, is expressed as follows:

" I do not think you have explained why the presence of technical change is necessary for
the quantitative identity of labour-value and price."

and, again,

"Your interpretation of Marx  ...[involves]... the relationship between
labour-value and the value-form under dynamic conditions of technical
change. But to consider this a full response to  the modern TP you
need to better explain why quantitative identity does not and should
not hold under the conditions of the problem. I do not think you have
done that."

Let me answer your questions. The reason why the two aggregate equalities *do* not hold in the static case that you analyse is that profit is equalised on the size of capital advanced, regardless of the composition of capitals into the value creating 'v' and the value preserving 'c' . Marx's own analysis makses this quite clear (it is a myth that it is inferia to the Sraffian calculation or logically flawed), as does a Sraffian calculation. The various lines of attack on the Sraffian calculation, including those you have raised, do not significantly threaten this basic point. However, the deviations from the aggregate equalities are *random* through time because OCCs have no structural relevation with relevant categories of goods. This conclusion stems from examining the OCC and wage goods, 'luxury' goods and means of production, examining the real things referred to, their content or real structure. *Only* if you abstract from this content, can you conclude that it is arbitrary to consider their relation random. This is why I refer to formal logic, which abstracts from content, and dialectical logic which does not. If you like, over a century of debate over the TP has been mired in an inablity to actually examine the qualitative content of the variables with which it deals - it has been stuck in formalism.

You ask why I think the two aggregate equalities *should* not hold together in the static context. Well I think they *should*, and *do*, if one analyses the relevant static case, where the OCCs and the relevant categories of goods are recognised to be in a random relationship. I can add one point that may be helpful, in response to your following argument. You wrote:

"Whether the relationship is "strong" or "weak" is irrelevant. The
point is that, once you admit logically that the presence of
capitalist profits *alters* the quantitative identity between
labour-value and price, no matter whether the alteration is
quantitatively small, large, weak, strong, only happens once in a
while etc., then it follows that there must be either *another*
determinant of the value-form other than labour-time, or perhaps that
labour-time is *not* the determinant at all. Labour-time therefore
cannot be *the* substance of value in capitalism."

The answer is that the deviation is the result of the peculiarities of the value substance. Abstract labour does nothing at all directly (because it is abstract) but only via mediation, eventually entailing the anarchic complexities of price of production and everything else we see in Marx's 'Capital'. This is an important qualitative point because the long run quantitative negligiblility of the average deviation is just that, long run.  The ability of other factors to have significant effects on the average deviation in the short run is the quantitative manifestation of the fact that the abstractness of the value substance has no analogy in the natural sciences or elsewhere (except Hegelian idealism)  - which may be why it affronts your intuitions. But these other factors are not differing OCCs, they are the factors that lead to crises, the factors of boom and bust.

Many thanks,


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