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As I near the end of my active time on OPE-L, let me at least note the
debate as I understand it. I thank Julian for emphasizing that Fred was not
equating the money price of the means of production with their value but
rather with constant capital. It should be easy to see why I was confused
since I thought constant capital is determined by the value of the means of
production consumed in the production of a commodity. Marx certainly does
For Fred, constant capital (c) is given by the money or cost price of the
means of production (cpmp); however c is not the value of the means of
production (vmp). So for Fred it is possible for c to vmp to differ. In
fact he grants that c as he has defined it (cpmp) does differ from the vmp,
which then plays NO role in his understanding of the transformation.
What are Fred's arguments for defining c as cpmp?
1. He argues that because Duncan defines variable capital as the money
price laid out as wages, then constant capital must also be a money
category. But variable capital does not have its value transferred to the
final product by workers, so the question of the determination of the value
variable capital represents simply does not arise.
Variable capital only directly matters for the cost price of the
commodities into which cpmp also enters. We can assume that one unit of
variable capital allows x number of workers to be hired at y rate of
exploitation. However we set x or y, it simply does not matter for the
logic of the transformation. A rise in the rate of surplus value for
example changes nothing about *how* the average rate of profit and
production prices are determined.
We now have to figure out whether the value workers transfer from the
means of production (c) is determined by the money price paid for them
(cpmp) or their value (vmp). This question simply does not arise for
variable capital, which should therefore be given in money terms as it
forms part of the cost price of commodities.
2. Fred then says that Marx defines constant capital as the money laid out
for the means of production. But this was only when Marx was assuming that
price equals value, so it leaves open what happens when we allow for
divergence:is c then given by cpmp or vmp?
In my previous post, I gave a couple of reasons for choosing the latter,
that is defining c as the vmp. Here I differ from Mage, Mattick, Jr,
Carchedi, Moseley, and Alejandro R who in my opinion have made great
contributions in rescuing Marx's method. Andrew and Ted also seem to define
c as cpmp.
One more reason can be easily added. If the value workers transfer from the
means of production is determined by their money price, then why must a
capitalist raise the rate of exploitation to appropriate the same rate of
profit if the socially necessary labor time needed to reproduce the means
of production has been revolutionized via a technological innovation?
Obviously the value of the means of production has dropped, which then
affects the value that they can transfer to the final product. But if
constant capital is not the value transferred to the final product, then
its meaning has has been turned into a synonym for the mpcp. And surely
Fred means more than that. Understanding Marx in dynamic terms implies that
c is defined by the vmp, which is indeed an inherently dynamic category
unlike cpmp which is as Fred correctly says a datum in the transformation.
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