Forwarded from Jurriaan (value theory)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Feb 28 14:29:15 MST 2001

Very quickly, in response to Les Schaffer. You wrote: "One thing I am not
sure about your interpretation of TSS is that I still can not figure out
whether TSS proponents endorse the kind of value theory you seem to be
attibuting to them". On this subject, best to consult Alan Freeman and Mino
Carchedi's book "Marx and non-equilibrium economics". I cannot really help
you further with this because, in my opinion, Marx's analysis can be
developed in many different ways. The point with people like von
Bortciewicz and Tugan Baranowsky is that they don't even correctly define
Marx's concept of capital, cost-price and production-price. However once
these concepts are correctly defined there is no requirement to transform
the "inputs".

The neo-Ricardians make a number of assumptions in their models which Marx
would not make or would regard as counterfactual/unrealistic. For example,
for Marx there isn't anything like perfect competition, static equilibrium,
an effective equalisation of profit rates, and so on. The trouble with
these critics of Marx is that they don't really understand what he is
trying to explain, what his problem is, and they end up thinking the
Marxist theory of labour value is a waste of time. They want to build a
theory of prices, but they discover that they don't need Marx for this,
which is of course true. What Freeman & Carchedi try to do is get back to
what Marx was really trying to explain, and show that his approach was
valid. I wasn't aware that Moseley is a "simultaneist" - I thought Gerard
Dumenil and Dominique Levy are simultaneists, but Moseley is not really a
simultaneist as far as I know. Basically Moseley takes the view that Marx's
own methodology and approach to explaining competition and price formation
is completely correct, in this sense he takes a "literal" reading of Marx.

The most interesting riposte to the "transformation problem" I think is
Ernest Mandel's, in that he argues that the real historical dynamic of
capitalist development is to be found precisely in the failure of a real
profit equalisation to occur, i.e. in the quest for surplus-profits
(profits higher than the average).

There are a number of ambiguities in Marx's analysis and cases which are
not easy to explain or model, such as determining output prices when the
prices of inputs change during the production time, or reducing complex to
simple labour. But it is not clear to me at this stage that there is
necessarily only one correct answer to them. I haven't read Jim Devine's
post, where is it located ?



Louis Proyect
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