In Section VI of Wages Price and Profit, Marx explains that prices approximate the true value of a commodity, but only over time as supply and demand average out. Having established this, he goes on to argue against the fallacy that profit is obtained by selling commodities above
>If then, speaking broadly, and embracing somewhat longer periods, all descriptions of commodities sell at their respective values, it is nonsense to suppose that profit, not in individual cases, but that the constant and usual profits of different trades spring from surcharging the prices of commodities, or selling them at a price over and above their value. The absurdity of this notion becomes evident if it is generalized. What a man would constantly win as a seller he would as constantly lose as a purchaser. It would not do to say that there are men who are buyers without being sellers, or consumers without being producers. What these people pay to the producers, they must first get from them for nothing. If a man first takes your money and afterwards returns that money in buying your commodities, you will never enrich yourselves by selling your commodities too dear to that same man. This sort of transaction might diminish a loss, but would never help in realizing a profit.
Marx's argument against a fallacy rampant in the present day seems like it would be incredibly useful to learn, I cannot for the life of me parse what he is talking about. Thus, instead of ignoring this aside I come to /edu/'s help in making sense of it. To break it down:
<What a man would constantly win as a seller he would as constantly lose as a purchaser.
If every transaction in capitalism can be understood abstractly as buyers and sellers entering a marketplace - representing supply and demand by changes in stalls, shoppers, and salesmen, for instance - then each transaction with an arbitrary percentage of profit x
applied would even out. This is what I assumed this sentence to mean at first. But even if this were the case, could each successive capitalist in the line from raw material to finished product not add a surplus onto the successively increasing true value of the increasingly complex commodity? Marx might say that the competition between capitalists (ignoring supply and demand, which self-cancel) would force this arbitrary "profit" to increasingly diminish to almost nothing if it were to ever exisPost too long. Click here to view the full text.