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Maybe one reason why Gil is waging a "continuing war against Marx's
demonstration of why only workers, in possession of its commodified labor
power, will contract at a price that will not allow them to claim the net
surplus of rentals over costs" is that Gil believes--in my opinion
correctly--that this wasn't Marx's argument at all.
While I differ with Gil over the price/value dichotomy, I agree that Marx
was emphatic that (a) profit must be explained on the basis of the exchange
of commodities at their values; (b) the exchange of labor-power for labor is
in accordance with the "original laws of commodity production", not in
conflict with them. If we instead argue that workers are exploited because
of the weakness of their class position an get less than their value, while
everyone else gets proper value, then we are arguing 'vulgar Ricardian
socialism' (to paraphrase Samuelson), not Marxism.
"To explain, therefore, the general nature of profits, you must start from
the theorem that, on the average, commodities are sold at their real values,
and that profits are derived by selling them at their values, that is, in
proportion to the quantity of labour realized in them. If you cannot explain
profit upon this supposition, you cannot explain it at all." (WPP [MESW I:
"Therefore, however much the capitalist mode of appropriation may seem to
fly in the face of the original laws of commodity production, it
nevertheless arises, not from a violation, but, on the contrary, from the
application of these laws… the worker has received payment for the
exchange-value of his labour-power and by so doing has alienated its
use-value—this being the case in every sale and purchase. The fact that this
particular commodity, labour-power, possesses the peculiar use-value of
supplying labour, and therefore of creating value, cannot affect the general
law of commodity production…"
>From: bhandari@Princeton.EDU (Rakesh Bhandari)
>Subject: [OPE-L:3080] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: re:starting points
>Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 00:56:12 -0400 (EDT)
>Gil, how's this way of looking at it:
> Competition is a market phenomenon. Suppose everything is marketized. Now
>according to bourgeois theory of which Marx is evidently attempting an
>immanent critique market competition should drive the market price of a
>productive "agent" to the point where it no longer yields a value surplus.
>Remember Duncan's question about slavery.
> Why is not the price of slaves (or other 'fixed capital' like machines!)
>paid by the capitalist at the time he invests bid up by the competition of
>others eagerly seeking to capture the net surplus of rentals over cost--to
>the point where no such surplus remains?
>Now we know in the case of labor power, workers cannot 'wait' until they
>are offered the net surplus over and above their costs of reproduction.
>Given their sharp present time preference, the present price of their input
>services must not only fall short of the value yielded in the future by
>their productivity; they must also agree to preserve gratis the 'fixed'
>and 'circulating' capital paid for the businessman at their respective full
>values, as determined by said forces of competition.
>But of course it is even worse than that; the laborer actually has to
>advance his pay to the capitalist, for pay under capitalism is only a
>ratification of time already spent. That the capitalist appears to pay him
>is only the fetishism of wages, as my hero William J Blake underlines in
>his pithy, though 700 pp summary, of Marx's work.
> The rentals of labor power is of course labor itself, and workers, who
>doubly free in Marx's perverse sense, are in no position to demand that
>they capture the surplus value from their services.
>It seems that the only other alternative is to ascribe the phenomena of
>interest in a market society to time or waiting in itself, to update Senior
>with Bohm Bawerk or Fetter or someone. But we already know that wage funds
>are not advanced against time. That's a myth. The worker advances his time
>to the capitalist and is paid off *after* the hours are given.
>Just as with Ajit's attempt to cut Marx in two, I am at a loss to your
>continuing war against Marx's demonstration of why only workers, in
>possession of its commodified labor power, will contract at a price that
>will not allow them to claim the net surplus of rentals over costs.
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