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

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Feb 22 2006 - 04:52:47 EST

Hi Ian,
Yes, my point about randomness is captured by the first paragraph of this nice quote from Sraffa. Furthermore, Sraffa recognises an implication of the point which seems to have otherwise escaped notice: that the quantitative propositions of the LTV are, as Sraffa puts it,  'justified in general'. I would add that Marx is interested in the general case par excellance, that of the study of the general laws of motion of the CMP. Therefore the quote implies Sraffa's recognition that the quantitative propositions of Capital Vol 1 are all correct, after the transformation. Perhaps Sraffa didn't quite realise how important it was to underline these implications - if only someone could have told Steedman!
No doubt it is fanciful to think that you or Sraffa really agree with all these implications - so maybe that's where we can agree to disagree for now...
Many thanks,
-----Original Message----- 
From: OPE-L on behalf of Ian Wright 
Sent: Tue 21/02/2006 23:21 
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] price of production/supply price/value

	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]."

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