Necessary rehabilitation - V. Poznjakov

Antoine-Augustin Cournot Nicolas François Canard

On a branch of the Smithian school in France: Canard and Cournot. Under the Banner of Marxism, 1925, no. 7, p. 164-197

Submitted by Noa Rodman on May 27, 2012

Habeant sua fata libelli 1 . But a fate have not only books, sometimes also in regards to some thinker fate is plenty capricious, and sometimes unjust too. In fact: to devote a fair share of one's life to scientific work, which should, if there transpires not a complete revolution in science, in any case pave in it a new promising way; to publish the results of one's work and completely not draw the attention of one's contemporaries, and only after death get this belated recognition, - but what recognition! - a recognition, tied with a full misinterpretation, one can even say, with a full distortion of one's views, - are these not the vagaries of fate, which fell to the allotment of the "forgotten" economist Antoine-Augustin Cournot.

Antoine-Augustin Cournot was born on 29 August 1801 in Gray (Haute-Saône). He came from an old peasant family; but already over the course of a series of generations many representatives occupied spiritual positions or were occupied with intellectual work. Thus, his grandfather was a notary; this position was inherited after him by Cournot's uncle, who had a strong influence on the young Cournot. Already early in his youth Cournot was attracted to scientific books: he read Fontenelle's "Mondes" and Laplace's "Système du Monde." Later he was most of all attracted to mathematics; this he also studied in school, and his special attention enjoyed the books: "Essay sur l'application do l'analyse à la probalitité des décisions rendues à la pluralité des voix" of Condorcet and "Essay philosophique sur la probabilité" of Laplace. One can say that they determined his further life path, and at the same time the path on which he went in his economic studies.

Later we see him at the department of higher mathematics for mechanics in the university of Lyons (in 1833); in the following year he becomes rector of the academy of Grenoble and simultaneously occupies the chair of the faculty of philosophy. This is his activity extending to 1862 - the year of his retirement; he died in Paris on March 31, 1877. His main work "Researches into the mathematical principles of the theory of wealth [Récherches]" was published in Paris in 1838; despite the author's expectations, the views, developed by him there, didn't get any recognition, his work remained completely unnoticed. Thus, for example, Adolph Blanqui in his work "History of political economy" does not all mention Cournot; likewise there is also no reference to his "Récherches" in the detailed bibliographical index, attached to "History," although also the lesser known economist Canard is mentioned there, whom Cournot himself names one of his predecessors, and about whom will be spoken of below... It would also be in vain to search for a mention or reference to Cournot in Marx.
Attributing this failure of the book in the first place to its mathematics and mathematical formulas, that could be inaccessible for readers, Cournot rewrote his work, threw out from it all mathematical formulas and calculations, and publishes it in 1863 under the title "Fundamentals of the theory of wealth [Principes de la théorie des richesses]." Once more he develops his economic views in "Revue sommaire des Doctrines Économiques," released in 1876, the year before his death.

Cournot wrote not only on economics, he left after him a number of works on mathematics and philosophy. But his philosophical writings were also not noticed, though [Louis] Liard, considering his philosophical views, says that he could have been recognized the head of an independent school of philosophy, intermediate between those of Kant and Comte 2 .

And nevertheless, in the words of Lévy-Bruhl, "Cournot in life remained unrecognized, almost unknown. None of his original ideas about the application of mathematical methods to political economy, not his deep penetration into the nature of historical science, not the shiny fruits of his pedagogical experience, not a single part of his work has won the least recognition"3 . Here only Cournot the economist will interest us.

What is the reason that the views and theory of this "great" economist, in the acknowledgement of some of the new representatives of economic thought, for six decades remained completely unnoticed, that they not only did not influence the subsequent development of economic theory, but remained for economists even completely unknown?
I. Fisher explains that Cournot appeared too early 4 . Waffenschmidt in his introduction to the German translation of "Récherches" says that, on the one hand Cournot appeared too late: if his work came out - in the era of Laplace, the matter would have taken another turn; on the other hand, he would have appeared too soon, because the hour had not struck of the modern mathematical school in political economy 5 .

Whatever such explanation, the fact remains, however, that the work of Cournot and his theory continued over half a century to remain almost entirely in the shadow: perhaps, in what follows we can explain this strange event. In front of Cournot there was not any choice: despite the hard struggle, he was left only to come to terms with this indifference and the sole consolation for him could only be to hope that over time his work, one way or another, would get this recognition. "Let posterity judge, - he melancholically remarks in his memoirs, - whether it confirms him that lenient assessment which the author gives of himself, or puts his reverie to oblivion" 6

The reality, apparently, justified those hopes of Cournot; in the 70s he is unearthed, more than that, he is obliged even by great economists, declaring him at the same time also to be the first pioneer of the so called mathematical school of political economy. Walras and Jevons would be those he obliged. "In recognition following Cournot's death there was no shortage. Walras and Jevons indicated with equal recognition, that they have in him a teacher and predecessor of their method. The new theory in England, America, Italy claims that it in its method is obliged to him; thanks to his originality and influence, which he had on his later representatives of his direction, he can with full justice be called the father of the economic theory of mathematics" 7 .

Precisely in the same way also another prominent representative of the new mathematical school I. Fisher, in the already mentioned article above on Cournot, says about him: "It may fairly be claimed that Cournot was the principal founder of this school" (the mathematical school) 8 . But he does not limit it with this: further he declares him not only the founder of the so called mathematical school, but also in general one of the predecessors of the pan-vulgar and pan-superficial modern bourgeois political economy. Dwelling on one of the particular positions of Cournot, he says: "Since (for him V.P.) φ'(x) is the rate of increase of cost per unit of increased product, i.e. "marginal cost," Cournot must be counted among the anticipators of Jevons, Menger, and Walras." And, bringing the confusion of concepts to the absurd, but characteristic of this "latest" school of political economy, he continues: "These anticipators now appear to be Bernouilli, Anderson, Ricardo, Von Thünen, Rae, Cournot, Dupuit, and Gossen" 9 . Similar to this, e.g., also Othmar Spann places Cournot in a series with Gossen, Jevons and Walras, to anticipators of the mathematical school, placing him in relationship with the theory of marginal utility. Besides this he calls Cournot the "creator" of this school 10 . But we won't multiply the examples. No wonder, that the legend about Cournot, as the founder of the most trivial bourgeois-economic school of modernity, received wide distribution; in as much at all one encounters denotations on Cournot, he usually is treated in the sense, that he is the first to apply the mathematical method to political-economic research - in this regard the precedence belongs not to him, which, however, Cournot also himself stipulates; but he is called the first mathematician in regards that in him allegedly are found all those fundamental positions of economic theory, on which the representatives of the mathematical direction built their enormous, but, frankly, to nobody useful construction of economic theory 11 .

No wonder then, that also, e.g. in the standard "History of economic doctrines" Ch. Gide and Ch. Rist precisely from Cournot, in a series with Gossen, trace the lineage of the mathematical school. But this is - straight exploitation of an unfamiliarity about Cournot's works and with the true character of his theory; only the application of mathematics and mathematical formulas still can not tell us anything in relation to the most important - the fundamental principles of this theory. Otherwise with the same right also Marx can be related to the predecessors of Marshall, Fisher and tutti quanti, only because also he in his research had recourse to both mathematics, and to formulas. A more correct look on things has the more early representative of the mathematicians Leon Walras.

"Cournot, - he says, - was the first who openly and seriously tried to apply mathematics to political economy... For several years I have worked from my side to elaborate pure political economy as a natural and mathematic science. I arrived to it basing myself on other economic principles and with recourse to other mathematical procedures than Cournot... Thus, our studies are completely different, and I can say that I have borrowed from him only the method" 12 . Walras, in this way, states, that only the method - and by this he understands only the application of mathematics - he could borrow in Cournot; but their fundamental economic principles are different. True, this difference in fundamental principles he sees only in the point that Cournot starts from the situation of full monopoly and from this proceeds to the situation of free competition, whereas Walras took the opposite path, - from free competition to monopoly, - in reality the difference here is deeper, so much deeper that it scarcely at all relates Cournot to this school, the representative of which L. Walras is, and even less to the new mathematics. In order to solve the question, we will need to turn to Cournot himself.


To show the error in the assessment of Cournot, one must look at his "Récherches" from the right angle, first of all read, how did Cournot himself consider his work? What goals did he set himself in his economic studies? In addition, it should not be forgotten that Cournot was primarily a mathematician; this, certainly, would have a determined effect. And political economy interested him, primarily, as a special field for applying these mathematics. To his task, in his own words, does not at all belong the creation of any sort of new economic system, to which, by the way, he related with disdain. From this, he flatly refused; "I am far from having thought of writing in support of any system, and from joining the banners of any party" 13 - so he characterizes himself. Similarly, he does not want to present a "dogmatic and complete treatise on political economy." His mission is narrower: in the preface to "Récherches" he defines it in this way. Political economy, - he says, - which for a century has so much interested thinkers (let's not forget that this was written in 1838), is to-day more generally diffused than ever before. But at the same time the public is so tired of theories and systems that now the demand is for so-called positive matter in this field, i.e. custom-house abstracts, statistical documents, and government reports, such as will throw light of experience on the important questions which are being agitated before the country, and which so greatly interest all classes [p.1].

Cournot welcomes this desire, but at the same time, however, indicates that this does not at all eliminate the necessity of theory. One must only not confuse such theory, constructed in the final light on given experience, with those systems which were inevitable in the infancy of every science and in the field of political economy in particular.

Here he notes also the way on which he intends to go; to this, - he says, - points already the very beginning of the work: "I intend, - so Cournot defines it, - to apply here forms and symbols of mathematical analysis." He anticipates from the outset that this will draw condemnation of theorists of repute, because there are still strong prejudices in this field; on the one hand, many economists simply lack the necessary knowledge in mathematics, on the other hand - an established known tradition, which was stated by such economists as Smith and Say, who wrote about questions of political economy, preserving also in their style all the beauties of a purely literary form of presentation. This prejudice, in addition, is moreover fed also by the circumstance that under the application of mathematics to this field, i.e. to political economy, usually is understood an operation above numbers; but not all economic phenomena can be measured and expressed by determined numbers. The attempt of such application of mathematics; i.e. to measure the unmeasurable, and moreover, the incommensurable, cannot but be a failure. Cournot fully agrees with this and even himself points to examples of such attempts, ending, in his opinion, as this also should be expected, with failure; an example of this is the work of Canard. But such use or such conception about this use of mathematics (or arithmetic) still does not at all speak against the application of mathematical methods in general and in this special sphere of science - in political economy.

However, on the mathematical method of Cournot we will dwell later. For now we only remark that he: 1) wanted to subject to treatment with the help of the mathematical method only questions of economic theory which in general in their nature can be subjected to this treatment, and 2) subject to such analysis only controversial and unclear questions, or still undeveloped.

Therefore one can't expect from his "Récherches" more than Cournot himself intended. We must not seek in him any new economic theory, similar to, for example, the theory of Smith; such goal he also did not set. "I have put aside questions, - he says, - to which mathematical analysis cannot apply, and those which seem to me entirely cleared up already" 14 . Later we will see that to these undisputed and cleared up questions belong just the most fundamental questions of economic theory, for example, the theory of value. Cournot also does not dwell on them, he proceeds from them, like from a given; a fact, which drops out of the sight of many economists. But at the same time it must be said that Cournot's views as an economist and his place in the history of the development of economic theory are characterized not so much by the circumstance, that he resorted to the mathematical method, as by the character of these initial fundamental positions.


Here, however, for the moment we leave Cournot. We already mentioned Canard and pointed out, that he was one of the predecessors of Cournot in the field of the application of the mathematical method; true, this use, in Cournot's view, proved a failure. But, also abstracting from mathematics, he should all the same be considered a predecessor of Cournot also in another regard: both one and the other belong to one and the same economic direction, representing different degrees of its development. Looking ahead, we say, that their views represent a very particular branch of the school of Smith, cut off with the writings of Cournot. Therefore an encounter with Canard gives us the possibility to better determine the place in the history of political economy, in which Cournot rightfully stands.

Nicolas François Canard (1750-1833), like Cournot, a mathematician (from 1795 professor of mathematics at the Ecole centrale du dep. d'Aillier, then in the College de Moulins), and like Cournot, a writer not only in the domain of mathematics, - he wrote also on questions of right and meteorology; to him belong also two economic works. His main economic work 15 carries a polemical character and was directed against the physiocrats; in essence it represents a response to the question posed by the Institut Nationale: "Is it true that in an agricultural country all forms of taxes fall on the landowners?"

However let's turn to his "Principes"- a work, crowned with the prize by the Institute, something, by the way, Say could not at all accept, and for which Adolph Blanqui does not deny known merits. Of course, needless to say, Canard did not create it by himself; he is a student of Smith, sometimes in his theory there are some, rather arbitrary modifications, really, his application of mathematics, but also here he only dresses Smith's views in a mathematical envelope. One can add, that Canard - a Frenchman, wrote his work in the country of the physiocrats, and the views of the phsyiocrats proved to have on him a stronger influence - both positively and negatively.

Already the purely formal feature - his work is a response to the above mentioned question - determines also its construction. Canard begins his study with the question of rent, and a significant part of the book is devoted to the theory of taxes. It's known, that physiocrats, name only agricultural labor productive, call for one and single land tax, - a demand which clearly characterizes them, as representatives of [the interests of?] capital. Canard, despite his theoretical distance to them, was all the same a representative of the interests of developing capitalism; not only the edge of his demands was directed already in another side - not at the address of the landowners, but to the side of the lower classes. Starting in general from the basic position of Smith, considering every labor productive, he developed his "optimal" theory of taxes, the essence of which lies in the following. If in society a known equilibrium of the distribution of taxes is established, then whatever would be the system of drawing juridical means in the form of taxes, in whatever form they would be levied, taxes in the final light are distributed between different groups of the population proportional to their ability to bear this tax. Perturbations in this distribution are given by every new introduced tax; but under this suffer, mainly, also the already more weak. On this basis he also expressed in favor of the already existing taxes. In general he prefers indirect taxes, and moreover not on objects of luxury, but on objects of first necessity; ideal taxes, from his point of view, would be the notorious tax on salt, existing in the France of l'ancien regime 16 . However we leave aside the theory of taxes and go to the basic question, which is central to every economic theory - the theory of value. Canard could also not, of course, bypass her.

"In general, - he says, - everything that has value among people, has its price due to the different labor, which was applied to it" 17 . And immediately explains; "For example, if I mentally abstract all the labor, successively applied in the manufacture of my watch, then there remains only some amount of minerals, found in the ground, from where they were taken, and where they have not any value." Likewise in another place he decidedly claims: "Only labor produces that which has value among people" 18 . "Everything which has value among people, has it thanks to labor" 19 .

Before us, thus, is the basic position of the theory of labor value of Smith: it remains, perhaps, to emphasize, that from Smith's different definitions of value Canard chooses the most correct, which furthermore also in Smith himself is the fundamental one 20 . So, at the very basis, one can say, on the decisive point of economic theory Canard stands before us, as a determined partisan of the labor theory of value and continues the tradition of the Smithian school. Later we'll see, what the situation is in this regard in Cournot.

Smith, as is known, was not able, while remaining on the ground of the by him developed theory of value, to expose [/облепить] the real being of the contemporary to him economic industry, and precisely in relation to the beginning development of large capitalist production; for this he created his "natural price." Also Canard was not able to do this. Labor, applied to a product, gives it value; but what labor? The concept of abstract labor to him, as also should be expected, remained alien; but this concept in general lies at the basis of every labor theory of value, as its clear or hidden presupposition; therefore also Canard had to make some surrogate of this concept. "One must distinguish in human labor that which is necessary for his conservation, and superfluous labor" 21 . The first is labor, expended on covering natural needs, without which it is impossible to exist; on the contrary, "superfluous labor" - is the labor, expended above the necessary; savages are confined only to necessary labor, preferring to spend all the remaining time in idleness. But can one use this "superfluous labor" either on the cultivation of land, or in skilled artisanry or craftsmanship, one also can use it on products, produced with this "superfluous labor," in turn to buy labor for its application either in treating land, or for the production of other products, - this labor becomes "demandable superfluous labor" 22 . This "demandable superfluous labor" also becomes the source of rent, and likewise also of property. In essence this "demandable superfluous labor" represents of itself some pseudonym for the category of surplus value. The not yet developed French capitalist industry determined in him the confusion which we find even in this question. So, e.g., he proclaims this "demandable superfluous labor" the sole source of goods or commodities 23 , this is fully normal, if one takes into consideration, that in an undeveloped commodity society commodities, as a general rule, are only surplus, and labor, necessary for the maintenance of existence, in general does not take the commodity form. But from the other side, under necessary labor he understands labor (more accurately, the labor, included in products), which is expended not only for maintenance of one's existence, for one's conservation, but also "for the exploitation of one's products" 24 ; under this he understands labor, expended on the renewal of fixed capital. "Demandable superfluous labor" can be expended on the improvement of the culture of land, and in the degree, in which it is applied in land, it turns up value and brings rent to the land, but, from the other side, it can be expended on skilled artisanry or craftsmanship - turning up skilled labor, which begins to bring industrial rents. Whence the division of labor into "natural labor" and skilled labor, coinciding, though also not entirely, with the first division.

With the appearance of the name of skilled labor the following difficulty emerges: what labor - natural or skilled - is now the standard of value? And here Canard also follows Smith: he simply declares his theory of value inapplicable in such a state of society, where there is expressly such skilled labor, i.e. in civilized society 25 ; [праведы/truthfully?26 ], however, one very particular place.

"What is the principle that determines the value of every thing? It is certain that, since everything which has a price is the result of labor, the value of any object must be due to the labor, which it has cost. It is certain secondly, that if all people were set merely on the absolutely necessary for their conservation, if all labor was natural labor, which differed only in time (expended of it. V.P.), it would be only the duration of labor which measures value; thus the hours and days would be the nominal units and sub-units which would determine the value of all things. It's probably a similar division of time to which are due the first origin of nominal units, adopted by different peoples, such as the franc, the pound sterling, the florin, etc. But the different kinds of skilled labor present such a great variety in the value of labor, that time can't serve for them as standard of value" 27 . It follows that the standard of value can be only natural labor; but together with this in him such standard of value already is played not by labor, but by the value of labor (i.e. the wage). This emerges already also in the given citation, about this he also speaks in his theory of prices.

Before moving to price, let's dwell for a moment on his theory of money, because in him we find in embryo some Marxist definitions. Money is a means of circulation; but it has its own value, with which it also enters into the process of circulation. The agreement of people to use money cannot give it any value: "Metal money is a commodity, delcared de bon aloi by the figure (coinage), which it carries. Thus money should not be regarded, as a sign representing all things; one écu contains in itself so much labor or so much internal value, as in that amount of goods, for which it is exchanged. Metals only therefore also were adopted in the quality of means of exchange, because they had a usage and value, outside and independent from exchange; and only because they had this value they were also an intermediary-commodity for the exchange of other commodities; thus the value of money has nothing conventional" 28 . But in this case the question raises itself about the amount of money, used for circulation. We see, that commodities transfer from the hand of the seller to the hand of the buyer, but money goes back into movement 29 , whence, under absence of credit and with settlement only in cash, "it is required, that in circulation is found a mass of money, equal to the mass of circulating commodities" 30 . But the circulation of commodities can happen with different velocity, in this case the used amount of money decreases as many times as the velocity of this circulation increases. "Thus, other conditions being constant, the faster circulation, the less money is required 31 .

True, further we encounter already a few other positions. "The value of money, - he says, - is found in reverse relation to that amount, which corresponds in circulation to a given mass of commodities" 32 ; and there he puts it also in dependence on the development of credit and the amount of paper (actually, credit) money. In general, in him slip features of the quantity theory: also in this question he does not depart from the tradition of Smith. In addition, further on he directly also blends wealth with the general amount of circulating money (metal and credit) 33 . But these deviations in Canard remain in fact only deviations: in the first place in him is advanced his fundamentally, correct theory of money, which he develops fairly consistently.

Moving to his theory of prices, first of all his definition of prices: "Price is nothing other than the relation of the value of one thing to another; and as all are compared with the value of gold or silver, the price is the relation of the value of every thing to a certain amount of this or the other of these metals 34 .

The underlined, at the very least, on the outside, sounds totally like Marx 35 .

But here follows the logical galloping: not being able with the help of the by him adopted theory of value of puzzling out the phenomenon of price and the closely associated with it questions, Canard rejects her and by a single blow pops up at the superficial visibility of the phenomenon of exchange. However, further we'll see, how he tries to connect his theory of price with the theory of value.

"To show the general cause which determines the price of all things, it's necessary to analyze the principles of the usual conduct of people in their transactions" 36 . What is this cause? Everyone seeks a possibly larger pleasure, i.e., seeks to appropriate to oneself a possibly larger amount of "demandable superfluous labor" or wealth. Every dealer seeks to receive for his commodity a possibly higher price; to the opposite, the buyer seeks to give for the commodity possibly less. There takes place, in this way, a collision: Canard assumes that every seller must sell his commodity, and the buyer must buy it; but this is possible only in the case that the seller will lower the by him assigned original price, and the buyer raise it until when, if they do not match, a transaction is possible.

In each market one can, as a result, observe a difference between the originally designated price on the part of the vendors and the original prices, offered by the buyer. For the sake of this difference also the struggle takes place, in which every side seeks the greatest possible of its part. To the analysis of this process Canard also applies the mathematical method.

This difference Canard denotes with the letter L [latitude]; with the letter x he denotes that part, which the seller seeks to add to the more low price, that will be the price proposed by the buyer. Then L-x will represent that part to which the buyer will strive to reduce the more high price, i.e. the price, asked by the seller. From this Canard draws his basic formula:

bnx = BN (L-x)

Here with the letter B he denotes the demand [besoin] of the buyers, N the competition between them; the letter b - the demand of the sellers and n - the competition between them; "it's clear, - he says, - that the size of the part x of this difference will grow in relation to their demand and the competition between them; in this way x will be found in the complex relation to B and to N, will grow as BN; exactly likewise the other part L-x will grow as bn" 37 . One thus gets the proportion:

x : B N = (L-x) : b n

Whence one also gets the above mentioned equation, which Canard calls l'équation des déterminations; "this equation expresses the equality of the moments of two counter-posing forces" 38 .

In fact, only in the conditions of this equality exchange transaction can happen, because only in this case the price, asked by the seller and the price, offered by the customers, match with each other.

We see that Canard operates with demand and competition, as determined magnitudes. But is this possible? "We cannot give an evaluation of immediate sense impressions of the distinction, e.g. between a tone and color, or between two different colors; hence we also can't conceptually capture and describe the difference... We come nearer the possibility of mathematical view on the object, if we limit ourselves to the investigation of phenomenon of the same kind... and distinguish them by their intensity... A whole series of natural phenomena carried since ancient times a quantitative character, and therefore were subjected to mathematical treatment" - so says the mathematician 39 .

Do the phenomena of the economic order, about which Canard speak, - his B and N - satisfy this condition, do they appear homogeneous? Is it possible to call them in any regard comparable? Clearly not. This, by the way, the latest representatives of bourgeois economy do not understand, but this was perfectly understood, for example, still by Gossen, the real precursor of the Austrian school of marginal utility. He directly indicates that they (at least Geniessen, i.e. besoins) can not be expressed quantitatively, for there is no standard with which they could be measured 40 . But commensurable they become, and can be therefore expressed quantitatively, only thanks to the circumstance, that providence inspired people with the idea to use money. Both demand and competition, in as much as they get such value expression, thereby get a general standard. Hence the clear methodological absurdity of similar constructions for the deduction of the law of value; to the contrary, they already assume value, as something given. In Canard however, this construction does not carry such an absurd character, because together with price he presupposes value; moreover, fundamentally value for him is something primary, whereas price is secondary, dependent on value. But to unpack this dependence Canard was not able, though he, like Smith, purely verbally was trying to fill this gap. In any case, he does not put the by us above given equation at the basis of the theory of value, he does not infer from it the value magnitude [/variable/quantity]. He wants to give a theory precisely of price, and not of value. This positing of the question favorably distinguishes him from the later representatives of vulgar economy, which doesn't stop, however, the latest bourgeois economists from proclaiming also him an early pioneer of the mathematical direction, and one of the founders of the mathematical school 41 .

From his main equation Canard determines x, which essentially is profit, or even average profit:

x=L. BN/(BN+bn)

Mathematically it's easiest to go from this equation to a situation of complete monopoly. In fact, let's assume, that bn=0, i.e. that competition lacks between the sellers, and their demand (obviously, the demand to sell the commodity) is "as little as possible," under these conditions x=L, i.e. the sellers get the whole difference. Conversely, if we assume that BN=0, i.e. lack of competition between buyers and a very small degree of their demand, then x=0; in other words, the seller does not realize anything from this difference, it entirely goes to the buyer. But the question arises: if this difference plays such an essential role, then what determines its magnitude, what are, at least, the lowest and highest limit of price?

We know already that the buyer seeks to buy at a cheaper price; but there exists a limit below which it cannot come: "This lowest price is the necessary wage of labor, which was applied to the object which is bought; that is to say, such a salary, which ensures to the person who receives it, only the ability of maintaining their existence without any extra pleasure" 42 . If this price will not be paid, the seller refrains from production of that commodity, or their number decreases because of poverty etc., and this leads, in its turn, to an increase of prices. Consequently, "the necessary salary of the labor contained in a certain object, is the natural limit for the diminution of the price of that object" 43 .

The natural wage of labor is the lowest wage, which is only received for labor, and this labor is "natural labor." This "natural wage" is at the same time the "necessary wage."

However, this necessary wage must be sufficient not only to maintain the existence of the worker himself, it must also ensure the existence of his family. With all this its magnitude is not a sort of exact defined magnitude: in it there are many gradations. " I will not try, - says Canard, - to determine what constitutes the exact value of the necessary wage... The natural wage represents a broad band, one of the edges of which borders on pauperism, and the other extends to the first pleasures of superfluous consumption" 44 .

We know already that in the wage of skilled labor, in addition to necessary wage, enters likewise also rent, having its source in the labor, expended on skills. But this element enters in the wages of almost all the workers, though in a small degree; because every [/веяк*й] labor, even if in the least significant of its parts, has skilled labor, - natural labor in pure form cannot be found.

But in addition, in the necessary wage, - as Canard claimed, - enters likewise also what we now call the [***срепосонной] value of the consumed part of fixed capital. It would seem that this hopeless confusion should induce to just throw away all arguments of Canard; because to what significance can an economist claim, so coarsely mixing such totally different economic categories.

And meanwhile, this case very clearly reveals the determined impact of economic reality on the theoretical construction of economists. Fixed capital and wage of labor - are very different things... in capitalist society. But in a society, dominated by domestic form of capitalist production or artisanal industry, there the producer in appearance or legally is an independent commodity-producer, but essentially turning from such into a wage-worker; he gets a salaire or remuneration which increasingly turns into wages in the true sense of the word. At the same time he, for the most part, also is the owner of the instruments of labor; he, moreover, usually passed some training, and in one or another degree is a skilled worker. And when Canard - and it's the same in Smith - speaks about the wage, as standard of value, then this does not carry in him that vulgar taste, as is the case with the latest economists, because this wage resembled more the value of labor, - legally, true, it also was such [i.e. a wage], - economically it already increasingly is turning into the typical wage. All the just cited positions of Canard about the wage could not better also reflect this reality.

But what constitutes the upper limit of the difference? Canard notes, that the highest price occurs in a situation of complete monopoly, but here two cases must be distinguished; the first case, when the object is not an object of first necessity. In this case the extent, to which prices rise, is defined in this way: the higher the general price, the narrower is the range of buyers; if sellers win on a new price, then they lose in the reduction of the range of customers, and at the point, where this benefit offsets the disadvantage, forms that limit, above which the price cannot rise.

The determination of the limit is otherwise in case of objects of basic necessity. One might think that here the seller, being a full monopolist, can raise the price at will without end. But this is not so: in this case the growth of the price will be limited by the natural wage of the buyer, "the amount of bread, which the worker consumes to live, cannot have a price, which exceeds his salary" 45 . In the opposite case either this wage will have to go up, or this natural worker simply rebels, in order not to die of hunger 46 . Thus even in situations of complete monopoly there is always an upper limit of price.

Returning to the situation of monopoly, we can now say that there we also had just these limits of price. If there was a monopoly on the side of the sellers, the price would reach the upper border; if the buyers are in the quality of monopolists, the price would fall to its lower limit. However, monopoly - is an exceptional phenomenon, the usual event will be some middle position, a state of struggle between sellers and buyers for the size of the price. But in this, often found, situation the size of price is determined by the size of their mutual strength, the difference (L) splits in the profit the seller and the profit of the buyer on the basis of the already familiar formula of Canard. True, quite a number of commodities, before reaching the last consumer, on the way from the producer to that consumer run through the hands of a number of intermediaries. They all act alternately, as sellers, then as buyers. But Canard establishes, that the total difference (L) in this case only is distributed between all of these buyers and sellers, in proportion to their strength. Nothing new in this case we find. Therefore, this question of judgment, occupying in him a large space, we leave aside, as of little theoretical interest.

If we assume that the forces of buyers and sellers are equal (we call here force the produced demand for certain [куренпию?]: stipulating, that we here give the view of Canard), in this case, for Canard, this difference will be divided equally between buyers and sellers; x will be equal to 1/2 L.

So, - Canard says, - "the price of any article is equal to the natural wage of the labor enclosed in that article, plus the part of the difference L . BN/(BN+ bn), which makes up the profit of the vendor. Calling thus P the price, and S [salaire] the natural wage, we will get P= S+ L. BN/(BN+bn), as the equation of prices between a single branch of vendors and a single branch of buyers" 47 . Properly speaking, here it would be correcter to understand under "natural wage" in general the wage of the worker, or that, which he receives for his labor. He likewise says: "In the equation above, S expresses the value of natural labor, and the quantity L . BN/(BN + bn) expresses the value of the product of the sources of the rents that have been applied to it" 48 .

In essence, we have here price of production, in other words, the Smithian "natural price," but in a new and besides this an improved version. What does S represent? We know already, that the value of the object is determined (or measured) by the amount of natural labor applied to it, or its natural wages. One can therefore, likely, say that S also will be the value of this object; the quantity L. BN/(BN+bn), represents the profit, received on the market, and has its origin in the market exchange transactions. It's impossible not to acknowledge, that in Canard there are some features, which could allow to ascribe to him the view on profit, as a profit upon alienation. However this would be wrong. Moreover, his theory of price compares favorably even from Smith's natural price. As is known, according to Smith, natural price not only decomposed in wages, profit and rent, but also is composed of them. Its magnitude is determined by the general wage, averageprofit and rent. Canard is far from this vulgar representation. True, in his words, "every trading shop [boutique de négociant] not only can be considered as a center of quadruple ramification (all systems of commodity as well as money circulation. V. P.), but in equal degree, also as source of all rent49 .

But from this does not yet follow, that these rents (i.e. profit) have their source in trade; he, of course, wants to say, that any profit is realized in trade, because he considers shops only "as the center of circulation: (of labor, i.e., products of labor. V.P.); thereto are directed all products of labor; that is to say, thereto proceed all commodities, to which different branches of industry applied successively a certain amount of labor, which constitutes their value" 50 .

"Every object, which is sold, contains an amount of natural labor, and further a certain portion of the three sources of rent, which were applied to it"51 .

But these sources of rent are labor too, but only "demandable superfluous labor." The product of this "demandable superfluous labor" only is distributed in the form of rent by means of trade, but it is not created in it.

Such is the train of thought of Canard - just, the train of thought, because all the described is very confused. One can, however, establish the reason of this confusion: he is engaged by the problem of surplus labor or surplus value, but he does not distinguish it yet from average profit. Declaring "demandable superfluous labor" the source of profit, he at the time boils wealth down to accumulated "demandable superfluous labor," from here in his analysis the question still is wedged about rents, who must bring in the already accumulated "demandable superfluous labor." The magnitude of these rents, depending on the height of the price of commodities, determines, apparently, the same moments, also of price itself - demand and competition. However, noticing the contradiction, he, like Smith, tries to fix it by the following reasoning: although demand and competition, in a word, are different causes, making up price fluctuation, this does not "prevent that their initial value is the value of labor which they cost. Nothing can shake thus the truth, that all property is nothing but the accumulated labor which served to create it" 52 .

All this complicates his analysis so much, that he has literally to wade through the thicket of the by him encountered contradiction. Interesting also then, that, trying to get through it, he takes quite the right direction.

We think, that the reader will not complain to us for this imposition of Canard's views, because it needs to be definitely said, that Canard, as economist, represents all the same an interesting figure. In any case, the resentment of Say about the fact that they preferred Canard to him, lacks all foundation; the work of Canard in reality represents something more valuable and in theoretical respect, no doubt, more strong and interesting than the whole reasoning of the "brilliant" Say. But later on we''ll still have to halt at the overall assessment of the Canard's theory.

The above sufficiently characterizes the theoretical face [/ли*р?] of Canard, therefore we omit the presentation of other sides of his economic theory and move to Cournot. That Canard should provide on him an important influence - this represents a certainty [/***мнонным]. No wonder Cournot himself notes, that the work of Canard drew [/***влек] his special attention.


Already the very name of Cournot's work indicates the goal he set himself, - to find the mathematical basis of the theory of wealth. Naturally, he needed first of all to define this object of his research; the first chapter he also dedicated to the issue of wealth in general.

"Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniencies, and amusements of human life," - so Smith defines "wealth" 53 . But with this Cournot doesn't agree; this will be, in his eyes, rather, wealth in the usual vernacular sense of the word, with a very inaccurate and moreover ambiguous, being therefore a source of separation of economists on [се***/arid?] struggle, which is waged by the practical people with the theoreticians among themselves. Because here we inevitably encounter the concept of utility, which each estimates in his own manner, for there is no firm arrangement to measure the usefulness of things 54 . And this gives by itself the general inability to determine wealth, as a certain quantitative magnitude, and makes impossible quantitative comparison of different degrees of wealth and in general eliminates also any possibility of a theoretical [я**ннй/clear?] analysis, related one way or another with questions of wealth. On the same question, as is known, also Ricardo specially stood still. Wealth, - he says, - depends on the abundance of those "necessaries, conveniences and pleasures," about which A. Smith spoke, but their value depends only on the difficulty or the ease of production. Ricardo, therefore, distinguishes the concepts of wealth and value: the first, is the known mass of consumption values, the second - the incarnated labor in them. This definition became, one can say, a common place in theoretical economy. They (i.e. wealth, as mass of consumption values and the embodied in them value) can even stand in reverse relation. There are cases, when society, regardless of increased wealth, regardless of the increased amount of items of convenience, there would be at its disposal a lesser sum of values [stojmosti] (i.e. value. V.P.)" 55 . Cournot was familiar with Ricardo's work; and he wholly perceives this distinction; one can even say, that to him, as mathematician, everywhere looking for a relation between magnitudes, which therefore themselves must be commensurable, such distinction seemed self-evident.

"It has sometimes happened, - Cournot says 56 , - that a publisher, having in store an unsalable stock of some work, useful and sought after by connoisseurs, but of which too many copies were originally printed in view of the class of readers for whom it was intended, has sacrificed and destroyed two-thirds of the number, expecting to derive more profit from the remainder than from the entire edition. There is no doubt that there might be a book of which it would be easier to sell a 1000 copies at 60 francs, than 3000 at 20 francs. Calculating in this way, the Dutch Company is said to have caused the destruction in the Sunda islands of a part of the precious spices of which it had a monopoly. Here is a complete destruction of objects to which the word wealth is applied because they are both sought after, and not easily obtainable. Here is a miserely, selfish act, evidently opposed to the interests of society; and yet it is nevertheless evident that this sordid act, this actual destruction, is a real creation of wealth in the commercial sense of the word. The publisher's inventory will rightly show a greater value for his assets; and after the copies have left his hands, either wholly or in part, if each individual should draw up his inventory in commercial fashion, and if all these partial inventories could be collated to form a general inventory or balance sheet of the wealth in circulation, and increase would be found in the sum of these items of wealth 57 .

The opposite also happens, when the publication of a book represents an "industrial operation, a material production, useful to the publisher who undertook it, useful to those whose products and labor it employed, useful even to the public if the book contains valuable information, and which is nevertheless a real destruction of wealth, in the abstract and commercial meaning of the term" 58 .

Cournot thus names, wealth, as sum of values, here abstract wealth or wealth in the commercial meaning of the term; in other words, fully agreeing with Ricardo, he uses his own terminology, we now see, that in a few aspects he makes a further step forward in comparison to Ricardo. Wealth, and therewith wealth in the abstract or commercial sense of the term, he names that what Ricardo simply called value; as for wealth in the Ricardian sense of the term, then he refuses to append to it this conception of wealth, because wealth, for Cournot, has an historical character.

"Under this conception, wealth has doubtless only an abstract existence; for, strictly speaking, of all the things on which we set a price, or to which we attribute a value in exchange, there are none always exchangeable at will for any other commodity of equal price or value" 59 . Therefore wealth in the abstract sense or exchange value (Cournot blends these concepts) necessarily supposes trade. "It is inconceivable, - Cournot continues, - that men should live for a considerable time near together without effecting an exchange of goods and services" 60 . Exchange, in this way, emerges from the nature of [**века/things?]; in essence this is the former [/прежнее] Smithian view, former also of Ricardo. But Cournot is not satisfied with this: one [на***/instance?] of exchange is not yet sufficient for the emergence of value in exchange, for this something more is required, and precisely for objects to get exchange value, they must be objects of trade. And this, in its turn supposes general trade relations and a corresponding social arrangement" 61 .

If we take, - Cournot says, - a shepherd in possession of a vast pasture ground, and on which no one can disturb him with impunity, will be landowner, but he can't be called wealthy in such a society, where this pasture cannot be exchanged for something else. He may have cattle and milk in abundance; he can provide for a numerous retinue of servants and slaves; he maintains a generous hospitality towards dependents; but he is neither able to accumulate his products, nor to exchange them for objects of luxury, then one can say, that he "has power, authority, the enjoyments which belong to his position, but he has not wealth62 .

In general, "such an idea of wealth as we draw from our advanced state of civilization, and such as is necessary to give rise to a theory, can only be slowly developed as a consequence of the progress of commercial relations, and of the gradual reaction of those relations on civil institutions" 63 .

To the classical school historicism was wholly alien; the existence of commodity or capitalist society was for it the sole possible order, arising from the very nature of things. Whence also value for it was a logical category, inherent to any human society of all times, because it didn't conceive of society without commodity exchange. Cournot, as we see, holds views on wealth in their more developed form, which they get in Ricardo, but at the same time, disposing the property of naturalism of the classics, takes also a further step forward, seeing the historical conditionality of such a category, as wealth in the abstract sense, or exchange value. Let's look now closer to this valeur échangeable.

To the question about value Cournot devotes the second chapter; in it he intends, as this is clear from the preface, to study the absolute and relative changes of value. By the way, I. Fisher in his already mentioned article divides the work of Cournot into three parts. The first part, covering the preface and the first three chapters, - among this number, consequently, also the chapter about absolute and relative changes of value, - didn't attract Fisher's attention. In relation to the content of this part he, likely out of mere courtesy, only notes in passing, that here Cournot despite, that in it lacks one of the latest elements (Fisher, clearly, wants to say; one of the elements, brought by the latest bourgeois economy), - the idea of utility, gave a more profound and worthy of serious consideration, than most modern studies on this theme" 64 . The main part of his work begins, in his words, only with chapter IV. We soon will say, that Cournot could give more value for economic theory, not despite the fact, but precisely thanks to the fact that he didn't run into the vulgarization of the utilitarians.

Kaulla completely ignores this extremely important part of Cournot's work, and especially important for determining his position in the question about value, although he, judging by the preface of the book, wanted to give a summary of the historical development of the latest theories of value 65 .

In our Russian literature V. Dimitriev, giving a special essay on great "forgotten" economists 66 , exactly likewise entirely forgets about Cournot's theory of value. One could think to be dealing truly with a sort of conspiracy of silence!

However it suffices merely to familiarize with the content of this by the representatives of modern bourgeois economy boycotted part of Cournot's "Récherches," to arrive at the conclusion that we have a determined representative of the labor theory of value, one can even say - an undoubted Ricardian.

He not only follows in the main questions Ricardo, though also the influence of Smith is strongly on him, but - what for us is more interesting - he similarly doesn't cope with those problems, with which also Ricardo could not cope. In some of these aspects he stands behind not only Ricardo, but, perhaps, even also Smith; this is the case, for example, in the question about the origin of profit. In his defense, the circumstance still has be indicated, that he was not an economist by specialty, he was, primarily, a mathematician, and the field of economy attracted him in as much as he saw in it only a special application of mathematics. But he undoubtedly was familiar, and very well, with the classical economists, moreover, in some aspects he, in the quality of mathematician, could rise also somewhat above them.

This also is the case in the question about absolute and relative value.

That labor is the measure of value, there is agreement with Smith and Ricardo. But is labor itself the very content or very substance of value? In other words, can one find in Smith and in Ricardo the concept of absolute value? In relation to Smith we, hopefully, showed 67 , that such idea of absolute value in him there all the same was; though, for the most part, Smith spoke of the relative value of two or more things. As for Ricardo, then one has encountered the common opinion, that the idea about labor, as the very content of value, was alien to Ricardo. We do not agree about his; in our opinion, there is absolute value also in Ricardo. True, the center of gravity of his analysis Ricardo moved to the relative magnitude of value. But indeed to speak of the relation of one magnitude to another, is possible only in case these magnitudes exists also regardless of this relation, if, thus, it is possible to speak also about value in relation to only one commodity. Another matter, whether this value can be directly expressed without relation of it to the value of another commodity. Cournot, as mathematician, clearly and distinctly puts this question. He determinedly distinguishes absolute and relative value or, more precise, speaks about "absolute or relative change of value." But at the same times he, as non-economist, was not able to find out this question to full clarity. However, as mathematician, to him again specially clear was the unsatisfactory formulation of this question in the economists preceding him. Whenever there is occasion to go back to the fundamental conceptions on which science rests, and to formulate them with accuracy, we almost always encounter, - Cournot says, - difficulties, which come sometimes from the very nature of these concepts, but more often from the imperfections of language. And Cournot points by way of an example to such a "rather obscure point in the writings of economists, as the definition of value and the distinction between absolute and relative value" 68 .

"Just as we can only assign situation to a point by reference to other points, so we can only assign value to a commodity by reference to other commodities. In this sense there are only relative values" 69 .

These words, apparently, must leave us without any reservation to relate Cournot to the pure partisans of only relative value. Moreover, further on he claims again. "There are only relative values; to seek for others is to fall in contradiction with the very idea of value in exchange, which necessarily implies the idea of a ration between two terms [/magnitudes]" 70 .

For absolute value there remains no place. But Cournot would be a bad mathematician, if he made such a conclusion; because this would be absurd. In fact, what is relative value: it is the relation of two, at least, objects, it is the comparison of two terms. But first this already indicates that these magnitudes exists also by themselves. Let's clarify this with an example; Cournot takes the movement of the system of points in space. But we'll take another example, we take for greater clarity, weight and ask, can one directly express the weight of any object not referring it to the weight of other objects? How at all is weight expressed? Expression of weight is heaviness, but it is obtained by comparing a given weight to the weight of another object, which we take as unit and quantity which is often arbitrary. A swell science it would be, if, based on the inability of a straight and direct expression of the weight of objects, it would come to conclude, that in general there is no weight by itself, that it would be ridiculous to talk about the force of gravity, as the reason and very content of weight. This example about force of gravity was cited in the form of illustration also by Marx; but it's entirely in the spirit of Cournot. In fact, directly after the latter, by us given citation, Cournot continues: "But when these relative values change, we perceive plainly that the reason of the variation may lie in the change of one term of the relation or of the other or of both at once" 71 . And this fully logical with his side. If we can deal only with relative values, nevertheless "the change, occuring in this relation (i.e. in the relation of the value of two commodities, or in their relative value. V.P.) is a relative result, which can and must be explained by an absolute change in the members of the relation. There is no absolute value, but there is an absolute rise or fall in value 72

The question is clear: it can also not be put otherwise. It's easy to note, that this in essence also is Marx's formulation of the question 73 .

Let's summarize in brief the whole train of thought of Cournot. Exchange value, which he deals with, by its very essence is relative value. Fluctuations in the magnitude of relative values, however, are due to absolute fluctuations in the value of commodities, or the absolute fluctuations in something, that causes the magnitude of value. But to discover anything about this cause of value and its fluctuations we can only through observation of the relative fluctuation of values. About this Cournot [himself?] also says that there is nothing but relative value. If one assumes the absolute fluctuation of the value of one certain object, then it is clear, that it not only has [***но/existence?] but, moreover, that it is the reason which causes the changes in the relative values; but Cournot refuses to name this something, residing in commodities, value, because value is a relation, and outside of this relation we cannot detect her. To bring to complete certainty this question Cournot could not, because for that it would be necessary to view commodity society as an historically transient formation, having not only a beginning, but also an end; and to this Cournot did not reach, despite the fact that he to an important extent managed to stand on the historicist viewpoint: he sees the beginning of commodity society, but he does not foresee its end. However, on the question, what exactly the content of value is, or, rather, the cause of value, Cournot all the same gave a feasible answer; we familiarize with it below.

But right after these correct arguments, Cournot turns off to a side-way[/roundabout]: he remembers Smith and his invariable standard of value. He literally loses his [су**нии/focus?] about the issue that bread is the best standard, as it undergoes smaller fluctuations in value, if one take long periods, but on the other hand [/но зато] is subject to very strong temporal fluctuations. In regards to metallic money we have the opposite situation: weak fluctuations from year to year and more significant fluctuations in value, ​​than bread, if one takes a longer frame of time. If there was such a perfect measure, never fluctuating in its value, then referring the value of all other items to the value of the this standard, the one could obtain directly the absolute fluctuations of value. Here in Cournot begins the confusion; because here also absolute value is essentially relative, but only expressed in a stable value. So, if we have value a and b and their relation a/b, then in this case, if b falls and its value remains unchanged in its absolute [**личине], this relation directly also express to us the absolute change in value a. However, Cournot recognizes that such an unchangeable standard in general is not available. But when both a and b [***лются/oscillate?], we cannot get that either; before us will be the relative change of value. So here the expression "absolute" and "relative" acquire a somewhat different meaning. However here may arise the following question: by what are these absolute changes of value caused, or, in another formulation, what is the substance of value? A question - fundamental for the classification generally of any economist to one or another direction.

Approaching on this point of view "Récherches," we will have to acknowledge that here an important disappointment befalls us. Arguing, as we have just seen, that at the bottom of changes of relative value, lie changes of absolute value, Cournot shifts the center of gravity however, to these relative changes, and besides the determined point of view. Of course, - he says, - if we have such and such changes of a series of relative values, then, carefully examining them, we can with more or less likelihood construct a hypothesis about the absolute changes in values. So, for example, if the relative value of all commodities, except one, remained unchanged, but the relative value of all commodities in relation to this single commodity at the same time changed, then we almost with certainty can say, that we have changes in the absolute value of this particular commodity. But the construction of these hypotheses about the true movement of values ​​is, in his words, of little interest. Much more important, in his opinion, is to establish the laws of the relative changes: "What is really important is to know the laws which govern the variation of values, or, in other words, the theory of wealth" 74 .

But on the question of what constitutes the substance of value, we can find almost nothing, or in any case very little, in "Récherches." Cournot indicates there that his task lies only in the analysis of some unclear questions of economic theory. Universally accepted, not disputed truths he completely puts aside; and as, on the other hand, from the him preceding economists he mentions Smith, Say and Ricardo, and for the latter recognizes a strong scientific significance, then one can assume, that in these firmly established truth is found also the conception about labor, as source of value. And, in fact, familiarization with his writings, leads to conviction, that this conception as the starting point must lie at the basis of all his mathematical theory of wealth. It is that basis on which it is built, and which he doesn't mention only because it lies beyond dispute. But we have also direct evidence.

So he says; "It has been long remarked, and justly, that commerce, properly so called, i.e. the transportation of raw materials or finished products, from one market to another, by adding to the worth of the objects transported, creates value or wealth in just the same way as the labor of the miner who extracts metals from the bowels of the earth, or the workman who adapts them to our needs" 75 . (italics mine. V.P.).

This place is, true, the only, where he speaks about labor, as source of value. In all his theory of competition, or, as we would call it, in his theory of prices, Cournot operates with such concepts, as demand and supply, costs of production. To only this part of his theory modern bourgeois economists also [пр*ни***/brought?] attention, and, ignoring the first, extremely important, chapters and only just cited place, trace from Cournot the ancestry of vulgar bourgeois economy.

One could, perhaps, recognize this for some [****па/misstep?], because all the same the mentioned place is like a casually thrown comment, not playing besides that any role further in his construction. However, luckily, we have an entirely clear, fully determined and completely unambiguous exposition of his point of view in the question about value, given by the same Cournot.

In "Récherches" he is concerned only with relative value, so to say, the kinematics of value. But in another of his work "Traité de l'enchaînement des idées fondamentales" 76 he raises the same question also about the nature of value.

Having stopped also there at relative and absolute value - with these questions we already are familiar from "Récherches", - Cournot continues: passing from the consideration of the changes of value to the consideration of the causes which produce them, let's draw the comparison between the economic mechanism and the ordinary mechanism 77 . Here we can distinguish two sides: firstly, the dynamics of a phenomenon, and, secondly, its statics. Cournot brings up the following example from the field of hydrostatics. Suppose, - he says, - that we have a device consisting of several tubes of different volumes, filled with different liquids, e.g., water, alcohol, mercury, and vertically running down into a vessel. As
liquids have different densities, then equilibrium will be reached, when they stabilize at different levels; their levels will be found in inverse proportion to their density. Now, if that equilibrium was in some way disturbed, then this would show its effect on the level of liquid in all the tubes, and after some fluctuation equilibrium will be re-set, but at a new level.

Something similar happens also in the economic mechanism; assume that we have a system of steady prices. If now "the wages of workers become insufficient for their maintenance and that of their families, the working population will decrease, the workforce will be more demanded ​​and the wage re-rise. For occupations of a higher order, it is necessary that the remuneration of labor is sufficient for the maintenance of families under conditions of ease, without which ordinary men could not acquire the education that prepares for such professions. If there is inequality of wages between one profession to another, without an intrinsic reason for this inequality, one will gradually abandon the profession less favored, one will turn to that which is of greater benefit, and the wages level. A similar leveling will take place regarding the profits of entrepreneurs and speculators, regarding insurance premiums, regarding interest on capital allocated to different industries. If the population and affluence are increasing and homes are hired better, one will build more houses than are needed to replace those that dilapidation condemns; in the opposite case one will let drop dilapidated houses, and that by itself will raise the price of those remaining, as much as is necessary so that one will have an interest in not letting it drop anymore." 78 .

Here, as we see, a very strong influence of Smith is felt; Cournot, for example, simply follows him in the question on the wage; very strong felt here also is the influence of "natural prices." Such statics of the phenomenon of value, though Cournot here, strictly speaking, speaks about distribution, proceeds from fixed prices. These fixed prices in condition of equilibrium stand for different commodities at different levels; the question begs itself: what determines this difference of levels? However let's follow Cournot; he comes back to this distribution also in terms of dynamics, considering it, put in modern economic language, as a permanent co-moving moment in the process of social reproduction, taken as continuous process. Exactly likewise also here he brings for clarification an example from the field of mechanics. Imagine a machine, - he says, - holding on a plateau of a certain height a mass of water. The elevated water with its fall produces a momentum, in magnitude equal to the force, expended to elevate it. This living power of the fall can be utilized for production purposes, and in this case its expenditure would be productive, or for waterfalls and fountains, satisfying luxury, in this case its expenditure, from an economic point of view, is unproductive.

With this example, obviously, he wants to prove, that also social production consists in constant consumption, i.e. constant destruction of finished products, on one side, and on the other side - with constant inflow of a new mass of products. This inflow also is their production. And necessary, in order that they counterbalance.

"Similarly, if one follows the work of a factory, a manufacture, one sees that it constantly consumes supplies of raw material, fuels and products of all kinds: but the value of all the materials used must recur [/se retrouver] and is found again in the value of the new materials that the industrial enterprise delivers on the market, without which the enterprise would quickly fall. Workers attached to this enterprise have consumed for their own use and that of their families, food, clothing, fuel of which it is necessary that the value recurs in the manufactured product; thus a part of value of the latter represents necessarily the wages of workers; the working population would disappear if their wages did not furnish them and their families the necessary consumption. Finally, it is necessary that the bosses recur in the value of the manufactured materials enough to maintain their buildings, their machinery and tools, as well as to repay the capital involved in buildings, mobile equipment, in the supplies of raw materials and manufactured products, in the advances made to the workers for their wages, and in open credit to the traders who buy the materials produced. The surplus of value, if there was one, will represent the profits of the masters of the enterprise. Instead of an industry organized on a large-scale as that of a factory, one can imagine that of a farmer or an artisan: the results of the analysis will at bottom be the same, and will always have the effect of showing us clearly how the value passes from a material destroyed, consumed or damaged, to another thing produced, most often with an addition of value which represents the wages of workers, the profits of the implementers, the wages and profits of those who previously created all the instruments of the present work. All consumption that results in a regeneration of values is called productive consumption: the rest are classified as unproductive; and among them the economist moreover distinguishes purely unnecessary consumptions, such as the momentum expended to produce fountains and waterfalls, from those that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the defense of the public, to the protection of private interests, to the good order of society, to the welfare of the population, to the promotion of all those of our faculties the dissipation of which generally is regarded as an evil" 79

Here, by the way, we meet with Cournot's teachings of reproduction. With that, as the reader easily can note, he all the time operates here with prices of production; in other words, he goes on the path laid by Ricardo who also analyzed the cost of production, assuming, however, that it is a question of value. Ricardo, unfortunately, didn't give his teaching about reproduction; in Smith there was such, and it was created in opposition to Quesnay's Tableau économique. If Smith in one regard also took a step forward compared with the physiocrats, then, in another regard, he committed ​​a coarse error, of which Quesnay was free: he completely overlooked fixed capital, and refactored the entire income of the nation to wage, profit and rent.

The teaching about reproduction of Cournot, even though set out extremely briefly, compares favorably to Smith's construction; fundamentally he accepts it, but clearly and unequivocally he introduced in it the by Smith simplified category of fixed capital. Thus it can be regarded as a natural complement and completion of Ricardo's theory.

Of course, Cournot speaks here about the individual businesses, but here affects only his atomistic point of view on society. Let's only remember his overall balance sheet of public wealth, as a sum of private balance sheets. There is no doubt, the matter is about social reproduction, but only that instead of speaking about the sum, Cournot speaks about a particular term. But sometimes he very clear distinguished the public interest from the interests of individual persons.

We closely approached to value now. In order that the dynamics are not stopped, that products continuously are attraction in trade and from there move in consumption, it is necessary, to apply, in modern terminology, a continuous extension of the process of production of values. Thus the question is put about the source of value. Cournot does not leave it without an answer; he gives the following example: "Let's take an example. A colony is established on a point on the coastline of an empty continent, and it has ahead of itself forests and meadows of indefinite extent. Wood and hay are at first products of no value at the location itself of production, but it takes work to get them to the place of consumption, and it is only this labor that is paid when one buys wood or hay there" 80 . Then this colony begins to thrive; the wood and hay lying nearby are not sufficient, price of them will increase and therefore begins the exploitation of increasingly distant areas. The example is taken explicitly from Ricardo, but Cournot wants to use it to explain not only production of rent, but profit in general. To this theory of profit of his not even Smith's withstands comparison.

In the above quotation, however, the value definitely boils down to labor. Let's render two more quotes.

"Obviously labor is an element of the value of things; obviously also a material is necessary on which labor operates and to which attaches, as to a sensitive substratum, the value which comes from the labor. Whence the germ of two extreme theories; one which holds that all value (directly or indirectly) stems from labor; the other which claims (or rather claimed, because it is a theory out of fashion) that human labor produces value only on condition that it's spent for the maintenance of the worker, so that, the balance made, a net increase in value is only gotten, as they said, from the land, or from the common matter of all material substances" 81 . "Economists of the last century, who were called physiocrats, likened the land that without cultivation produces wood or hay, to a laborer who works alone, in his own way and for free, in the interests of the owner, during the whole time of vegetation; and the land which, being subjected to cultivation, produces wheat, they likened to a laborer, who works for free, in cooperation with other paid workers. But this idea of a free labor of Nature, without participation or involvement of the labor of man, is quite useless to explain the economic phenomenon: if it would be about quarries, mines, one would find an analogous fact, and one would examine similarly the value of the stone or ore at the place of consumption. But no one would involve in the explanation the work which Nature has delivered, over thousands of centuries, when the benches of limestone were deposited in water, or when veins of molten metal were injected through fissures in the earth's crust" 82 .

These words of Cournot leave no doubt that we have before us a determined representative of the theory of labor value. As a consequence of them, Cournot distinguishes generally only two directions in theoretical political economy: either the pure labor theory, reducing all value to labor, and the representatives of which he in another place [я***/names?] Smith and Ricardo along with Say, or the Physiocrats, wherewith he clearly dissociates from the main physiocratic position and thus stands on the side of the first direction.

True, if we look closer to the role which he assigned labor, then his labor theory [would?] be [не всем/not wholly] pure in its nature, and along with labor in him, as though, perform other constitutive of value factors; it's necessary to note, that, in large part, this derives from the confusion of relative value with price; in him already become visible the signs of decomposition of Ricardianism.

We pass by the views of Cournot relating to other questions of economic theory; we noted them in passing. The stated, however, we believe, is enough, to acknowledge the unsoundness of the legend, which tries to make of Cournot, at least, the godfather of modern vulgar economy. But, taking into account the forced apportionment, which is imposed on him - to be the first representative of the mathematical direction, we halt at his application of mathematics and at his theory of price.

In his theory of price, or relative value Cournot performs the same methodological error as Ricardo and begins the study with the most complex case, with the exchange course, i.e., the phenomenon of international exchange. He here proceeds from an unchanging standard [one gram of fine silver]. Noting, that the value of money [***блется/fluctuates?] not only in time - but that in different places, in different countries, the purchasing power of a determined amount of monetary metal is not the same, he also gives a formula for translating prices, taking into account the difference in course. Herewith, he says, him does not interest the nominal but the actual exchange, i.e. the ratio between the values in exchange of the same weight of fine silver according as it is payable in different places" 83 In this way, in his words, one can get the absolute value of all commodities 84 , because they will be expressed in money, cited in some imaginary or average monetary unit, constant for all places and similar to the "mean solar day" of the astronomers. However, his theory of exchange rates we can entirely set aside.

"Cournot is not a theorist of subjective value. The utility perspective is for him only an auxiliary concept. What he gives, - is the mechanics of price and the mass (of marketed V.P.) commodities "85 . This is not entirely correct: besides the mechanics of price Cournot gives also something more. To show, in what this consists, we return now to these mechanics.

To lay the foundations of the theory of exchangeable values, - Cournot says, - we shall not accompany most speculative writers, to the cradle of the human race; we shall undertake neither the origin of property, nor that of exchange or the division of labor. All this has no connection to the present era of advanced civilization 86 . The only axiom, or, if you prefer, hypothesis, from which we start, reads as follows: each seeks to derive from the products of his labor the greatest possible value 87 .

At the same time, we enter the field of ​​market competition and relative value is confused with price. True, Cournot lacks an exact distinction of these concepts, time and again he blends value and price: however he gives here essentially a theory of prices, speaks precisely about the price, and even his terminology insensitively moves from valeur to prix.

First of all, he rejects the popular superstition: "The price of things, it has been said almost unanimously, is in the inverse ratio of the quantity offered, and in the direct ratio of the quantity demanded 88 . He observes, that strict proportionality may not be the case. If, - he says, - 100 units have been sold at 20 francs is no reason that 200 units would sell at a price of 10 francs in the same lapse of time and under the same circumstances. "Sometimes less would be marketed: often, much more." 89 ; demand itself is found in direct dependence on the magnitude of price. "If by demand only a vague desire of possession of the article is understood, without reference to the limited price which every buyer supposes in his demand, there is scarcely an article for which the demand cannot be considered indefinite; but if the price is to be considered ar which each buyer is willing to buy, and the price at which each seller is willing to sell, what becomes of the pretended principle? It is a proposition devoid of meaning" 90 . And he searches for a less barren principle... "The cheaper an article is, the greater ordinary is the demand for it. The sales or the demand (for to us these two words are synonymous, and we do not see for what reason theory need to take account of any demand which does not result in a sale) - the sales or the demand generally, we say, increases when the price decreases" 91 .

Hence, demand itself is a function of the price. If we denote the demand for some commodity as D, then D will be a function of the price p of this commodity - i.e. f (p). "To know the form of this function would be to know what we call the law of demand or of sales" 92 .

Here we also turn to his mathematics. That in general mathematics applies also in the field of political economy, on this for the Cournot there can be not any doubt. That it with special success can be applied also to the study of exchange value in particular, too, can not cause any doubt, because exchange value is above all the magnitude that can be measured. But "whatever man can measure, calculate, and systematize, ultimately becomes the object of measurement, calculation, and system"93 .

"The abstract idea of wealth or of value in exchange, a definite idea, and consequently susceptible of rigorous treatment in combinations, must be carefully distinguished from the accessory ideas of utility, scarcity, and suitability to the needs and enjoyments of mankind, which the word wealth still suggests in common speech."

We have noted above, in what, in the opinion of Cournot, lies the main failure of previous applications of mathematics. He says: "they imagined that the use of symbols and formulas could lead only to numerical calculations" 94 . But that is incorrect: it's by far not always possible to be restricted to only one arithmetic. So, for example, already Ricardo, "who, when treating the most abstract questions, or when seeking great accuracy, has not been able to avoid algebra, and has only disguised it under arithmetical calculations of tiresome length" 95 .

Finally, in other cases the data, needed, for example, for the analysis of relative value, can not be measured and expressed quantitatively. So, on the law of demand [вдн**/play?] such factors of a moral order, which can't be measured in any way, and under these circumstances algebra also will fail.

Cournot resorts therefore to higher analysis. "Those skilled in mathematical analysis know that its object is not simply to calculate numbers, but that it is also employed to find the relations between magnitudes which cannot be expressed in numbers and between functions whose law is not capable of algebraic expression" 96 .

But for the application of higher analysis is also necessary one premise: it is necessary that f (p) represents a continuous function, in other words it is necessary that an increase or decrease of demand happens by a transition from one magnitude of price to another which is not sudden and irregular, but gradual; it should move herewith through all intermediate marks. For each consumer the size of his consumption and, together with it, his demand on the market abruptly changes, and is not at all proportional to the growth of price. So, with increasing price of firewood from 10 francs to 15 it is possible, that in individual family consumption of wood will remain the same, and only under the transition of prices through a certain price border, consumption or demand of firewood is reduced abruptly. However, if we take fairly large market, then we can assume, that these abrupt changes in demand for certain consumer will take place at various moments of changing prices, and, but falling into a big mistake, one would assume, that total demand will change in a continuous way.

We will not present here Cournot's theory of price, or his "theory of competition," as Dmitriev calls it. First, it usually is set out under the name of Cournot's theory, and, second, it must be the subject of a special work. We will only say, that Cournot in the general construction follows after Canard. He likewise also starts with monopoly - the most complex from the point of view of economy, but the most simple from a mathematical point of view. From it, he moves further to a middle case: to competition only between two producers - and then to full or unrestricted competition. In these studies he first distracts from costs of production, then includes them, tracing their impact on price, finally, draws from this the effect of taxes. Here he deals with the question of price, and as he distracts from its conditional fluctuation, then, in essence, the matter for him is about prices of production. His error in this, is that he blends it with relative value.


Us rest only to summarize; after all the said we can be very brief.

First conclusion, which we must make, is that the legend about Cournot, as founder or first representative of the mathematical direction, must be, finally, rejected. Both, - Canard and Cournot - stand before us as fully determined representatives of the labor theory of value. And if one already speaks about precedency in the mathematical school then such a first representative of it will likely be August Walras, who, even though he did not resort to mathematical formulas, considered political economy a mathematical science. But he didn't confine [himself] with only this, yes also couldn't, undoubtedly, confine, but put in the basis of a determining principle; and precisely value he derives from scarcity 97 .

His son, the economist Leon Walras, directly indicates, that the main principle of his theory, representing the first developed theory of the mathematical school, he borrowed from his father and only gave it further development.

Showing the unsoundness of this legend, created around Cournot's name, we will need to define more precisely that place, which Cournot takes in the history of political economy.
To do this familiarity helps with his predecessor Canard. For both Canard and Cournot clearly belong to one and the same direction. In short, both represent a singular branch of Smith's school in France; where each of them marks a particular stage in the development of this branch, breaking off at Cournot.

In general it represents an interesting parallel to the British classical school. We are already familiar with Smithians in France, usually to these Say is considered, who proceeded from the views of Smith, and at the same time, in the highest degree vulgarized him. One can, perhaps, say that Smithianism in France in the person of Say faded, not having time to blossom. But besides Say there were, it turns out, other economists - Smithians; one of them is Canard, even coming forward in relation to Say as contestant. Moreover, in the person of Cournot we have already a Ricardian. With that, if Canard managed in some regards to go further than Smith, then Cournot stands in the same relation to Ricardo.

In fact, let's turn to their theories of value. Canard already does not repeat the confusion, which is so characteristic for Smith, in whom one can find, perhaps, about a dozen different definitions of value or hints at such definition. He borrows in him the most correct definition, which, in a word, also in Smith was the basis, - value creates that labor which is expended on the production of things. Finally, we find in him also a clearer expression in the category of surplus labor, true, under the disguised name of "demandable superfluous labor;" this labor in him is the labor which is expended above the necessary labor, i.e. labor, necessary for the maintenance of the existence of the worker, or else for the production of the necessary means of existence.

Cournot exactly like this stands decisively on the point of view of the labor theory of value. But he, like Ricardo, placed the center of gravity on relative value, or rather, even on the change of relative value. However in him we find a more exact, in essence, a more correct delineation of the absolute and relative value, sometimes resembling Marx. But what particularly raises Cournot above Ricardo - is his recognition of the historical character for the category of value.

But both are far from free of vulgarization, the reason for this is the same as that in the British classics. They encountered the manufacture of the day; identified it with value, and under these conditions labor becomes (in the form of wages) only one of the determining moments of value (or price of production), alongside them act also other production costs. In Cournot this moment, characterizing at the time also the start of the decomposition of the classical school, emerges strongly. However, nobody would ever think to proclaim Ricardo the true founder of the later vulgar economics (of course, with the exception of the vulgar economists themselves). Similarly Cournot, despite this vulgar side, resulting from the inability ​​for him to explain the occurrence of the true economic reality of processes that occur in its depth and which, in the end, define this reality, - similarly, we repeat, Cournot can not be entirely classified to the vulgar economists. True, from that vulgar aspect of his views the modern mathematicians trace their ancestry, nevertheless he, rather, must be classified to the classics, at very least, in regards to the formulation and the solution of some problems of economic theory; with him, undoubtedly, appear already those economists, in which features of the decomposition of the classical school stand out very strong. In him we have, therefore, both a Ricardian, and the beginning of the decomposition of the Ricardian school.

Here we, at the same time, find the explanation of the fact that Cournot was "forgotten" already during life. The point is that at the time of the publishing of his work the hour of classical economics had passed. Bourgeois economics already lost its taste for serious economic research; further development of classical bourgeois economy directly led to Marx. Bourgeois political economy from now on was only possible on the way of vulgarization of classics. And no wonder that precisely Cournot's slopes toward vulgarization became subsequently the "revelation" for the latest bourgeois economy; but these same inclinations, not severing the ties still in Cournot with the classical school, could not yet meet this bourgeois economy.

The particularity of this branch was, in addition, the application of mathematics and the mathematical method. But they were for a specific purpose - to build a theory of price. Attempts to give a theory of price present their second distinction.

Solely the application of mathematics does not yet give the right to unite them into one group with all those economists who also resorted to her help. This application still can tell us nothing about the nature of economic systems. For determining the theoretical features of any economist more important and decisive are the main economic principles from which it proceeds. If Canard and Cournot proceeded from labor, as source of value, Walras - from rarity, and Gossen - from needs and as final instance the wisdom of providence, then only the use by all of them of mathematical signs and symbols cannot yet allow us to conclude on the communality of their theoretico-economic views. In the same way, as one can't throw on one heap also modern natural science, resorting at every step to mathematics, and medieval demonology, with the help of mathematics trying to account the amount of devils.

At the basis of the theory of price in Canard and Cournot lied a determined theory of value, true, they not always could connect it price to value, but this is a common fault of all pre-Marxist economics. Canard built his theory of price on the basis of the Smithian theory of value. Cournot laid with it the basis of a more developed form of the theory of labor value: true, some sides of his theoretical construction also corroded at the same time these perceptions of his theoretical basis. With that, at Cournot also ended this French parallel of the classical school.

Original title: Необходимая реабилитация. (Об одном ответвлении Смитианской школы во Франции: Канар и Курно) - В.Н. Позняков, Под Знаменем Марксизма

  • 1Books have their destiny.
  • 2See I. Fisher, Cournot and mathematical economics [p. 135.], - "Quarterly Journal of Economics," January, 1898.
  • 3 See Avertissement to the new (second) edition of the work: A. Cournot, Traité de l'enchainement des idées fondamentales dans les sciences et dans l'histoire, Paris 1911.[1861]
  • 4See op. article, page 133.
  • 5See Einleitung "Cournot" to the German translation "Untersuchungen über die mathematischen Grundlagen der Theorie des Reichtums." Jena, 1924, page 8 and 13.
  • 6Cited in Waffenschmidt's introduction.
  • 7Waffenschmidt, ment. Einleitung.
  • 8I. Fisher, Cournot and mathematical economics, p. 120.
  • 9Ibidem, p. 127.
  • 10Dr. Othmar Spann, Die Haupttheorien der Volkswirtschaftslehre, 1922, p. 165.
  • 11It's enough to read how Cournot is "interpreted" by Roche-Agussol in his article: La psychologie économique chez Cournot, see Revue d'Histoire économique et sociale (separate print).
  • 12(italics mine). Leon Walras, Principe d'une théorie mathématique de l'échange, - "Memoire lu à l'Academie des sciences morales et politiques," Paris 1874. p. 5-9; and also in "Théorie mathématique de la richesse sociale," Lausanne 1883, p.9.
  • 13Récherches etc., Preface, p. 11. [English edition p. 5]
  • 14"Récherches", Preface, p. 10-11. [p.5]
  • 15"Principes d'économie politique, ouvrage couronné par l'institut national, dans sa séance du 15 nivôse an IX (5 janvier 1801), et depuis revu, corrigé et augmenté par l'auteur. Par N.-F. Canard, ancien professeur de mathématique à l'Ecole centrale de Moulins, A. Paris an X (1801). [There is also a German translation (Stettin, 1806): Grundsätze der staatswirthschaft. A Spanish translation appeared in 1804: Principios de economia politica. The British Library does not to hold this book.]
  • 16See Canard, Principes, p. 201.
  • 17Principes, p. 6.
  • 18Principes, p. 171.
  • 19"Rien n'a de valeur parmi les hommes que par le travail," - Principes, p. 231.
  • 20About this see my article: "The theory of value and profit in the teachings of A. Smith," in the anthology "Problems of theoretical economics," "Moskopsk. Rabochij" (printing).
  • 21Canard, Principes, p. 4.
  • 22Travail superflu exigible. Properly speaking, that superfluous labor, which can be demanded, or can be obtained. We will translate it with the expression "demandable superfluous labor."
  • 23See Principes, p. 21.
  • 24Ibidem.
  • 25Let's recall that also for Canard every society is a capitalist society; history is alien to him.
  • 26[Square brackets are my notes. They mostly signal a problem in translation (often due to illegibility) and I provide an educated guess - translator.]
  • 27(italics mine). Canard, Principes, p. 26-27.
  • 28Canard, Principes, p. 24.
  • 29Principes, p. 62.
  • 30Ibidem, p. 63.
  • 31Ibidem, p. 65.
  • 32Ibidem, p. 71-72.
  • 33See ibidem, p. 123.
  • 34Canard, Principes, p. 26.
  • 35K. Marx: "Der Wertausdruck einer Waare in Gold ist ihre Geldform oder ihr Preis."
  • 36Canard, Principes, p. 27.
  • 37Ibidem, p. 29.[la portion x de la latitude payée par les acheteurs, croîtra à proportion de leur besoin et de leur concurrence: x sera donc en raison composée de B et de N, ou croîtra comme B N ; par la même raison, l'autre partie L-x croîtra comme b n]
  • 38Ibidem, p. 30.
  • 39H. Burkhardt, Vorlesungen über die elemente der differential- und integralrechnung, 1909, p. 1.
  • 40See H.H. Gossen, Entwickelung der gesetze des menschlichen verkehrs (1889), p. 8-9.
  • 41See, e.g., Edgard Allix, "Un précurseur de l'école mathématique : Nicolas- François Canard, - "Revue d'Histoire Économique et Sociale" (separate print).
  • 42Canard, Principes, p. 31.
  • 43Ibidem, p. 32.
  • 44Ibidem, p. 43.
  • 45Canard, Principes, p. 35.
  • 46Ibidem.
  • 47Canard, Principes, p. 35-36.
  • 48Ibidem, p. 37.
  • 49Canard, Principes, p. 112.
  • 50Ibidem, p. 109-110.
  • 51Ibidem, p. 37.
  • 52Ibidem, p. 9.
  • 53A. Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapt. V.
  • 54Cournot, Récherches, p. 5-6.
  • 55Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy. SPB. 1908, p. 182.
  • 56It's obvious that Cournot is, on one side, a forgotten economist, and on the other, in as much as he's even remembered, treated as a dead dog, distorting beyond all recognition his theoretical views, we regard it necessary in the interest of recovering the truth not to leave off long extracts from his work, all the more, since they are not in the Russian language.
  • 57Cournot, Récherches, p. 6-7.[Eng. ed. p. 11]
  • 58Ibidem, p. 7-8. [p.12]
  • 59Cournot, Récherches, p. 3. [p.9]
  • 60Ibidem, p. 2. [p.8]
  • 61"Mais de cet acte naturel (the exchange of things and services V.P.) et pour ainsi dire instictif, il y a loin à l'idée abstracte d'une valeur d'échange qui suppose que les objects auxqueles on attribue une telle valuer sont dans le commerce; c'est-à-dire qu'on peut toujours trouver à les échanger contre des objets de valuer égale... et si nous voulons nous entendre en théorie, il convient d'identifier absolument le sens du mot de richesses avec celui que présentent ces autres mots valeur échangeable" - Cournot, Récherches, p. 2-3 [p. 8-9.]
  • 62Cournot, Récherches, p. 2. [p. 8]
  • 63Ibidem. p. 2.
  • 64I. Fisher, Cournot and mathematical economics, p. 123.
  • 65Dr. R. Kaulla, Die Geschichtliche Entwicklung Der Modernen Werttheorien, Tübingen, 1906, p. 197-198.
  • 66V.K. Dmitriev. Economic essays, essay II: "Theory of competition of Aug. Cournot," Moscow 1904.
  • 67See our already mentioned article: "The problem of value and profit in the teachings of A. Smith."
  • 68Cournot, Récherches, p. 15. [p. 18]
  • 69Ibidem, p. 17-18.[p.20]
  • 70"Il n'existe que des valeurs relatives; en chercher d'autres, s'est tomber en contradiction avec la notion même de la valeur échangeable qui implique nécessairement celle d'un rapport entre deux termes," - Cournot. Récherches, p. 20. [p. 24]
  • 71Cournot, Récherches, p. 18. [p.20]
  • 72Mais aussi la changement survenu dans ce rapport est un effet relatif, qui peut et doit s'expliquer par des changements absolus dans les termes du rapport. Il y a pas de valeurs absolus, mais bien des mouvements de hausses et de baisse absolues dans les valeurs (italics mine), - Cournot, Récherches, p. 22.
  • 73: Slonimsky in his pitiful article directly also accuses Marx of scientific fraud: "the doctrine of Marx about the economic equivalents (i.e. obviously about the relative form of value. V.P.) is taken, e.g., as though from Cournot, the name of whom also is left in silence, of course, in the book "Capital", containing in itself, however, a very significant mass of old and in part complete literary trash." L. Slonimsky, "The forgotten economists Thünen and Cournot (towards characteristics of the latest political economy)," in journal "Vestnik Evropy," year XIII, Vol. V (Octobre 1878) p. 24.
  • 74 Cournot, Récherches, p. 22 [p. 24]; and he continues: "This theory alone can make it possible to prove to what absolute variations are due the relative variations which come into the field of observation; in the same manner (if it is permissible to compare the most exact of sciences with the one nearest its cradle) as the theory of the laws of motion, begun by Galileo and completed by Newton, alone makes it possible to prove to what real and absolute motions are due the relative and apparent motions of the solar system."
  • 75 Cournot, Récherches, p. 8 [p. 13]; for a characteristic [путан***/muddle?], [ве*ре*иющейся/present?]in Cournot, let's continue the citation further: "What ought to have been added, and what we shall have occasion to develop, is that commerce may also be a cause of destruction of values, even while making profits for the merchants who carry it on, and when in every one's eyes it is a benefit to the countries which it connects in commercial intercourse."
  • 76First edition in 1861 (let's recall that "Récherches" was published in 1838): the second edition with introduction of Lévy-Bruhl, Paris 1911.
  • 77Cournot, Traité, p. 559. [page 275, book IV, ch. XIII.]
  • 78Cournot, Traité, p. 559-560.
  • 79Cournot, Traité, p. 560-561.
  • 80Cournot, Traité, p. 562.
  • 81Cournot, Traité, p. 562.
  • 82Cournot, Traité, p. 563.
  • 83Cournot, Récherches, p. 29. [nous ne nous occuperons pas du change nominal, mais du change réel, c'est-à-dire du rapport entre les valeurs d'échange d'un même poids d'argent fin, selon qu'il est livrable en des lieux différents. 30]
  • 84Let's recall that "absolute value" in this case will, in essence, be relative value.
  • 85Waffenschmidt, named Einleitung, p. 9.
  • 86Cournot, Récherches, p. 46. [p. 44]
  • 87Ibidem.
  • 88Ibidem. p. 46-47.
  • 89Ibidem. p. 47. [p. 45]
  • 90Ibidem. p. 48
  • 91Cournot, Récherches. [p.46]
  • 92Ibidem. p. 50. [Eng. ed. p. 47.]
  • 93Ibidem. p. 4. [Eng. ed. p. 10.]
  • 94Ibidem. p. 7. [p.3]
  • 95Ibidem. p. 9. [p.4]
  • 96Ibidem. p. 8.
  • 97La valuer, en deux mots, c'est l'utilité rare (278). "La rareté n'exprime donc pas autre chose que le rapport qui existe entre la somme des biens limités, et la somme des besoins qui, pour se satisfaire,, en sollicitent la possession. Or ce rapport est un rapport mathématique: c'est un rapport de nombre ou de quantité (281). In ch. XVII he simply names political economy a mathematical science: "L'économie politique est une science mathématiques." August Walras, De la nature de la richesse et de l'origine de la valeur. Paris 1831.


Noa Rodman

11 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by Noa Rodman on May 27, 2012

Poznjakov himself needs a rehabilitation. I think his 2 articles (from 1929, together 60 pages) on market value and its place in the economic system of Marx would be interesting, or the one about the source of the labor theory of value (1925).