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

Historical Materialism 25 (3):3-35 (2017)
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Abstract

The famous Marxian ‘transformation problem’ originated from a research manuscript written by Marx in 1864/65, from which Engels assembledCapitaliii. 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 ofCapitali, where Marx presents various determinants of the rate of surplus-value, and connects productive powers of labour diverging between sectors with divergentvalue-generating potenciesof 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 onCapitali, this omission is rectified. It makes prices of production and hence the dual account systems redundant. The transformation problem then evaporates.

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