[OPE-L:1376] Determination of Value, 3

From: Andrew_Kliman (Andrew_Kliman@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu Sep 30 1999 - 12:50:21 EDT

3. Evidence of Simultaneous Valuation in Capital?

It is a standard tenet of hermeneutics that a textual
interpretation is adequate to the degree that it can understand
the text as a coherent whole. This may be impossible -- the text
may indeed be self-contradictory -- but if it is possible, then an
interpretation according to which the text forms a unified whole
is superior to one that does not. Apparent self-contradictions are
prima facie indications of the interpreter's misunderstanding
(see, e.g., Warnke 1993:21).

In light of this tenet, I suggest that the most compelling textual
evidence in favor of the temporal interpretation of Marx's concept
of value determination is not any particular set of passages in
which he explicates the concept. Rather, it is the fact that the
temporal interpretation is better able to find coherence between
Marx's concepts and his theoretical results. As was emphasized
above, when his concept of valuation is interpreted as a
simultaneous one, many of his results cannot be validly derived,
while they can be derived when his concept is interpreted as a
temporal one.

I do think, however, that a careful reading of the passages in
which Marx develops his concept of value determination also
supports the temporal interpretation. As against the considerable
evidence refuting the historical cost notion, there is little that
can be construed as direct support for the notion that the value
transferred from inputs depends on their post-production
replacement cost. A few passages have, however, been read as
offering such direct support. The two strongest cases read as

"Suppose that the price of cotton is one day sixpence a pound, and
the next day, as a result of the failure of the cotton crop, a
shilling a pound. Each pound of the cotton bought at sixpence, and
worked up after the rise in value, transfers to the product a
value of one shilling, and the cotton already spun before the
rise, and perhaps circulating in the market as yarn, similarly
transfers to the product twice its original value." (Marx

"If the price of a raw material rises -- cotton for example -- the
price of cotton goods rises as well: both semi-finished goods such
as yarn, and finished products such as cloth, etc. which are
produced with this more expensive cotton. And cotton that has not
yet been worked up, but is still in the warehouse, rises just as
much in value as cotton that is still in the course of
manufacture." (Marx 1981b:207)

The passages are very similar. Both clearly repudiate a historical
cost concept of value transfer, but this is not in dispute. The
first passage could perhaps seem to contradict the temporal
interpretation more directly, because Marx write that the value
transferred to existing stocks of yarn rises, *after* the cotton
contained in them entered production. This, however, is also not
in dispute; it is clear that, because values are determined by
current production conditions, when the value transferred to newly
produced yarn rises, so must the value transferred to existing
stocks of yarn. The dispute instead concerns the precise meaning
of the determination of values by current production conditions.
It therefore pertains to the valuation, not of existing stocks,
but only of yarn that is *currently* produced.

Specifically, if the cotton contained in the *most recently
produced* yarn entered into production before the change in the
price of cotton, is the value transferred to *this* yarn
determined by the cotton's pre-production price or by its changed
price? If anything, the passage seems to support the temporal
interpretation, by implying that cotton "worked up after the rise
in value [...] transfers [...] a value of one shilling" because
that is its price when it enters production.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Feb 27 2000 - 15:27:10 EST