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Many thanks to Fred for his recent message (3697), which explains very
clearly his interpretation of Marx. I have a few questions, Fred.
1. You say: "surplus value is defined as the increment of money, dM" And
later: ""value" of commodities, without further qualification, it usually
refers to the "form of appearance of value", i.e. money or prices. The
"value" of an individual commodity, such as the yarn, is the price that would
occur if prices were equal to their values." Questions: (a) what is the
relationship between value and price in your interpretation? I do not recall
SNLT having an important role to play in your recent messages even though it
seems to me that Marx determines value through SNLT; (b) isn't is a tautology
to claim that value is the price that would exist if prices were equal to
2. You say: "Marx's theory of surplus value in Volume 1 attempts to explain
the TOTAL AMOUNT OF dM for the economy as a whole". Question: Why the
emphasis on the quantity of dM? In my view volume 1 is partly about the mode
of exploitation in capitalism and, to this extent, the *form* of surplus
value and its *conditions of existence* (rather than its quantitative
determination). Why do you think the quantitative determination is essential,
and how is it possible to determine unambiguously the quantity of surplus
value produced at this highly abstract level of analysis?
3. You say: "Volume 1 attempts to explain â^À¦ the total surplus value of the
TOTAL SOCIAL CAPITAL, not the surplus value of an individual capital." And
later: "The single capital is considered only as an "aliquot part" of the
total social capital". Question: This is only partly correct, for volume 1
analyses competition within branches and the appropriation of extra surplus
value by the more productive capitals in each branch. Isn't it then incorrect
to claim that volume 1 is about the total capital (presumably without
competition - as if this were possible, since competition is the form of
existence of capital) and volume 3 about many capitals (when it is merely
competition across branches that is introduced)?
4. You say: "the initial money-capital, M, and hence also C and V, are taken
as given, as the actual money-capital invested (adjusted for capital
gains/losses)" Question: Can you explain more exactly your definition of
capital gains and losses? In a recent message you argue that they are due to
changes in the value of constant capital. Do they also include changes in
variable capital (due to changes in the value of labour power, perhaps)?
Changes in the market price of the inputs due to fluctuations in supply and
demand? The impact of cheaper imported raw materials? Changes in other costs,
say transportation, interest rates or the tax regime?
5. You say: "the reason why C and V are taken as given is that their full
explanation involves the equalization of profit rates, and, according to
Marx's method, the equalization of profit rates cannot yet be explained at
this early stage of the analysis". Questions: (a) Are C and V given at prices
of production or at market prices? (b) How can we know their money-value
quantitatively before we have the concepts required to understand them?
(similarly, how can I determine US GNP numerically before I have a concept of
value added and know the structure of the US economy, including its
international relations?) - this is why I have emphasized *form* rather than
quantity in 2 above.
6. You say: "m: the new value (in terms of money) produced per hour of
current abstract social labor". Question: how can m be *given* if it is
determined ex post, after the price system and the technologies? Or do you
diverge from the new interpretation in this respect?
7. You say: "this equality [value = price, I presume, ASF] is true only for
the total social capital." Question: Does this imply that differences between
prices of production and values, and between market prices and prices of
production, are always and necessarily due to the reallocation of the same
quantum of 'value substance' across commodities, and therefore that total
value = total price of production = total market price by construction?
8. You say: "This constancy of the key aggregate variables between Volume 1
and Volume 3 seems to me to be a significant advantage of the macro-monetary
interpretation of Marx's theory over the standard interpretation." Question:
As you rightly say elsewhere, Marx's examples in Capital 1 are always in
terms of 'representative' individual capitals. If Marx wanted to frame his
theory in macro-monetary terms, and determine macro-monetary magnitudes
(rather than explain their form as I have argued above) wouldn't it be
natural to include a few macro-monetary examples from time to time?
9. You say: "According to Marx's theory, the "value" (V), or aggregate price
(P), of commodities consists of two main components: transferred value (TV)
and new value (NV), which are in turn determined as follows (all these
variables are in defined terms of money): V = P = TV + NV".
Question: In the new interpretation NV is a residual, but you argue that NV
is given prior to, and determines, total (and presumably individual) prices.
What determines (money) value added in your view, independently of the price
and value systems?
I look forward to the continuation of this exchange.
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