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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Tue Mar 07 2006 - 18:24:04 EST

Hi Fred

I hope we can return to this topic at a future date. I feel we may
have exhausted the issue for now. I am sorry for not responding
directly to your macro-monetary interpretation.

> Therefore, in the choice between
> these two possible interpretations, why not prefer the one that makes
> Marx's theory a logically consistent whole, and in which the two aggregate
> equalities are always true, as opposed to the traditional interpretation
> that makes Marx's theory a logically contradictory mess, and the two
> aggregate equalities are in general  not satisfied simultaneously.

I don't necessarily prefer one interpretation to the other, although I
have studied the traditional intepretation much more closely than your
macro-monetary intepretation and I understand it much better. But
overall I'm fairly agnostic on what Marx really intended in ch. 9,
vol. 3, apart from the cruicial issue of Marx's claim that labour-time
is conserved in price at the given level of abstraction.

But I don't think progress will be achieved by viewing the "value
controversy" as a choice between possible interpretations of Marx.
There is another choice: the choice between applying Marx's value
theory to the neo-Ricardian special case of self-replacing
equilibrium, employing the technique of simultaneous determination, or
not applying it.

TSS and yourself choose not to apply Marx's value theory to the
special case because you both accept it necessarily leads to a
"logically contradictory mess".

I think that ultimately one has no choice but to apply Marx's value
theory to this special case, if the aim is to develop a theory of
economic value that provides a complete and satisfying explanation of
economic phenomena.

Rather than turning away from the contradiction, I think it may be
fruitful to focus attention on it. Contradictions, antinomies,
paradoxes etc. are signs that point to possible theoretical progress.

> It follows from this alternative interpretation that Marx's theory of
> prices of production is not "incomplete", and that the two aggregate
> equalities are always true.

Yes, that is very interesting. But why are they true under your
interpretation, but not in the neo-Ricardian interpretation? What does
this tell us about economic reality? Why are the neo-Ricardian
conditions (apparently) inimical to Marx's theory of value? On the
face of it, the neo-Ricardian conditions, being highly simplified,
should be ideal "laboratory" conditions for the analysis of the theory
of value.

Telling me that under your interpretation everything works out ok only
encourages me to focus attention on the neo-Ricardian special case, as
that is where the contradiction lies.

Best wishes,

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