[OPE-L:3690] Ignoring Revaluation/Fred's Given

From: ernst@pipeline.com
Date: Thu Aug 17 2000 - 12:42:04 EDT

[ show plain text ]

Hi Fred,

                     RE: OPE-L 3685

In your explanation of your idea of dM in the expression

        M - C ... P ... C' - M' where

M'= M + dM, you wrote:

"The M and the dM are ADJUSTED FOR CAPITAL GAINS (or losses) due to
 changing asset prices. Marx's theory is not intended to explain the dM
 that arises from capital gains; that is easy to explain. Rather, Marx's
 is intended to explain how dM happens WITHOUT CAPITAL GAINS - that is the
 difficult and interesting question. That is why Marx assumed CURRENT
 COSTS. This is all current costs means: adjusting M and dM for capital
 gains or losses, in order explain the (theoretically more significant) dM
 that remains."

Here I think you use the notion of capital gains or losses to cover quite
a bit of territory. That is, I assume that you include the possibility of
moral depreciation or moral appreciation due to changes in the productivity
of labor. This, I think, is quite a departure from Marx. Why?

1. Within the idea of M - C - M' we find that capitalism is contradictory.
That is, as value is expanded or, in your terms, dm is produced by
abstract labor, it is also destroyed by concrete labor. Indeed, if
the productivity of all labor were to increase, say, 100 fold overnight,
much, if not all, of fixed capital would be destroyed in terms of
value. It would be rendered economically useless.

Here my point is simple. As the creation of value occurs and capital
expands, its destruction marches forward as well due to the two-fold
nature of the labor process. By "abstracting" from the ontradiction,
your view of Marx loses a dimension. This is fatal. Specifically,
how can you even understand the production of absolute surplus value?

For Marx, the need to lengthen the working day is driven not only by
the simple greed of the capitalist but also by his need to preserve
the value of his fixed capital. Indeed, in the period of large
scale industry the expansion the working day stems largely from fear
capital devaluation. By abstracting from the possibility of such losses, unlike Marx your view of capitalism becomes big guys versus little guys with no recognition of the rules of the game.

2. In claiming that any capital gains or losses that happen during a
given period are taken as "given" at the beginning period, you
inadvertently show us the strange nature of static analysis. At
t-1, one must know what will happen at t. How much then should one
advance for the means of production at t-1? Is the "given" amount
of money their price at t-1 or at t? You seem to say it is the
price at t. Are we then to ignore the possible difference between
the two prices as we compute how much the capitalist actually gains
or loses? Capitalists could then be incurring actual losses that
Marx views as gains and vice versa.

Put simply, it is one thing to say that Marx abstracts from technical
change as he analyses a particular aspect of capitalism. It is quite
another to assert that he does not consider the destruction of capital
value as he examines its self-expansion.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Aug 31 2000 - 00:00:03 EDT