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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 18:21:28 EST

Hi Andy,

Another thought. Robert Vienneau at the end of  this article
includes a quotation from Sraffa's notebooks. I include the quotation
below. Would it be fair to say that your view regarding the lack of
quantitative identity, that is "the deviations from the aggregate
equalities are *random* through time because OCCs have no structural
relation with relevant categories of goods" is very similar if not
identical to Sraffa's point of view? -- If so, that would make me the
"tiresome objector".

"The propositions of M[arx] are based on the assumption that the
comp[osition] of any large agg[regate] of commodities (wages, profits,
const[ant] cap[ital]) consists of a random selection, so that the
ratio between their aggr[egate] (rate of s[urplus] v[alue], rate of
p[rofits]) is approx[imately] the same whether measured at 'values' or
at the p[rices] of prod[uction] corresp[onding] to any rate of
s[urplus] v[alue].

This is obviously true, and one would leave it at that, if it were not
for the tiresome objector, who relies on hypothetical deviations:
suppose, he says, that the capitalists changed the comp[osition] of
their consumption (of the same aggr[egate] price) to commod[itie]s of
a higher org[anic] comp[osition], the rate of s[urplus] v[alue] would
decrease if calc[ulated] at 'values', while it would remain unchanged
at p[rices] of p[roduction], which is correct? - and many similar
puzzles can be invented.

(Better: the cap[italist]s switched part of their consumption from
comm[oditie]s of lower to higher org[anic] comp[osition], while the
workers switched to the same extent theirs from higher to lower, the
aggr[egate] price of each remaining unchanged...)

It is clear that M[arx]'s pro[position]s are not intended to deal with
such deviations. They are based on the assumption (justified in
general) that the aggregates are of some average composition. This is
in general justified in fact, and since it is not intended to be
applied to detailed minute differences it is all right.

This should be good enough till the tiresome objector arises. If then
one must define which is the average to which the comp[osite] should
conform for the result to be exact and not only approximate, it is the
St[andard] Comm[odity]...

But what does this average 'approximate' to? i.e. what would it have
to be composed of (what weights sh[oul]d the average have) to be
exactly the St[andard] Com[modity]?

i.e. Marx assumes that wages and profits consist approximately of
quantities of [the] st[andard] com[modity]."

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Feb 23 2006 - 00:00:03 EST