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

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Wed Feb 22 2006 - 11:09:34 EST

Hi Ian, a few comments below on your recent reply to Andy.

On Sat, 18 Feb 2006, Ian Wright wrote:

> The narrow question I want to answer is therefore: why does Marx's
> value theory appear to break apart under these specific, "modern"
> conditions?

Again, I insist that it is not MARX'S value theory that breaks apart,
but ANOTHER value theory, based on linear production theory.

I would reformulate your question as:

        Why are the two aggregate equalities not satisfied in
        Bortkiewicz's theory, but are satisfied in Marx's theory?

And my answer would be:

        Because the two theories are based on entirely different
        logical methods - Bortkiewicz's theory with PHYSICAL quantities
        as the initial givens and Marx's theory with MONEY quantities
        as the initial givens (along with the quantity of current
        labor and the MELT).  It is not surprising that two such
        diametrically opposed logical methods come to different
        conslusions with respect to the two aggregate equalties.

I think it is an interesting and worthwhile question why Bortkievicz's
theory breaks down under these conditions.  But it has nothing to do
with Marx's theory.

> my intuition is that the following kinds of assumptions:
> - simultaneous determination
> - homogeneous labour
> - uniform profits
> - self-replacing equilibrium
> - simple reproduction etc.
> are conditions under which the value-price relations should hold,
> "ideal" conditions so to speak.

I am afraid that your intuition is mistaken, at least with respect to
Marx's theory.  These assumptions are not "ideal" conditions or a
"special case" of Marx's theory.  Rather the assumptions of simultaneous
determination and self-replacing equilibrium (by which I assume you mean
the physical quantities are taken as given and replaced in the next
period) are aspects of an entirely different logical method from Marx's
theory.  It may indeed be that in Bortkievicz's theory value-price
relations do not hold under these ideal conditions, but that has
nothing to do with value-price relations in Marx's theory.

> But I agree with Saad-Filho when he says that the "aggregrate
> equalities are essential for Marx". They are essential because price
> is meant to be a form of value and, at a certain level of abstraction,
> price must represent labour-time and there must be quantitative
> identity (via a MELT, and given the abstractions).

I agree with you that the aggregate equalities are essential in Marx's
theory.  But I argue further that these aggregate equalities are not
conditions equalities, which may or may not be satisfied, depending on
certain conditions, but are instead identities, which follow of necessity
from Marx's logical method of:  (1) first determining the total
surplus-value (in Vol. 1 at the level of abstraction of capital in
general) and then analyzing the division of this predetermined total
surplus-value into individual parts (in Vol. 3 at the level of abstraction
of competition); and (2) taking the same quantities of money capital as
given at both levels of abstraction (the initial M in M - C ... ).


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