transformation problem

jones/bhandari djones at
Sun Oct 1 12:26:10 MDT 1995

I was quite impressed with Jim Miller's analysis of how Marxist economics
has often failed to differentiate the schemes of simple reproduction from
Marx's so-called transformation procedure.  I think that this helps to
clarify tremendously the Marxian reply to the famous contradiction between
Vol I and Vol III.  In order to continue Jim's analysis, it may be helpful
to clarify what the function exactly is of Marx's model of simple
reproduction.  If they were not to function as a theoretical guide to
prices, then what is their function?

I have another question about Jim's recent posts.  My question is a simple
one.  In the first few sections of Lukacs' famous reification essay, he
emphasizes the qualitative change in society effected by the
commodity-form's universalization as a social mediation.  Lukacs does not
deny that the commodity-form serves to dissolve pre-capitalist relations,
but he emphasizes that such dissolution is not the same as the actual
universalization of the commodity-form.

When Jim treats the law of value as continuous and as continuously modified
throughout history, does this not risk a failure to specify this
qualitative change, the nature of which of course needs to specified.  Is
the qualitative change merely that commodities cannot exchange at their
values due to the average rate of profit?  This seems to me to be


>   The commodity form has its roots in barter
>carried on between primitive communes. The money
>commodity develops out of this, eventually taking
>as its material repository the precious metals,
>silver and gold.
>  Artisans and handicraft workers became commodity
>producers in ancient society when they regularly
>produced for exchange. The exchange of the products
>of handicraft industry was organized on an inter-
>national scale with the development of world trade
>among the Mediterranean communities more than four
>thousand years ago.
>   There are many references to the history of
>simple commodity production in _Capital_ and in
>_Grundrisse_. The law of value is the inner logic
>of this history.
>   At a certain historical point, there is a shift
>in the manner of operation of the law of value.
>This is related to the rise of capitalism and the
>formation of an average rate of profit.

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