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The Productive Powers of Labour and the Redundant Transformation to Prices of Production

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A Marx-immanent Critique and Reconstruction

The famous Marxian ‘transformation problem’ originated from a research manuscript written by Marx in 1864/65, from which Engels assembled Capital III (1894). Unequal capital compositions, equal rates of surplus-value and equal rates of profit among different sectors are posited, and reconciled using the problematic concept of ‘prices of production’. Yet the assumption of equal rates of surplus-value is at odds with the subsequent text of Capital I (1867), where Marx presents various determinants of the rate of surplus-value, and connects productive powers of labour diverging between sectors with divergent value-generating potencies of labour. Given the other determinants, diverging rates of surplus-value then result. Marx disregarded these productive power differentials when he originally formulated his transformation. In a reconstruction, building on Capital I , this omission is rectified. It makes prices of production and hence the dual account systems redundant. The transformation problem then evaporates.

Affiliations: 1: School of Economics, University of Amsterdam reuten@uva.nlhttp://reuten.eu

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2017-12-13
2018-02-24

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