[OPE-L:3767] Re: definition of constant capital

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 06 2000 - 13:05:24 EDT

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> But, Paul, why do you think Marx measured labor-times in money, in the
> first place?

In some cases, Marx used labor hours; in others, Pounds, shilling, and
pence. Abstracting from the transformation problem, an expositor can use
either. Therefore, "in the first place" is an incorrect formulation"

> What purpose does this indirect measure of labor-time as
> money serve? Why not measure labor-times directly in terms of
> labor-hours?

Without transformation as an issue, he could use either. And there are
many examples in Marx for both. I haven't attempted to decipher a pattern
in the choice.

> My answer to this question: because the theory attempts to explain HOW
> LABOR-TIME. Therefore, the numerical examples HAVE to include both
> quantities of labor-time and quantities of money, the former as cause and
> the latter as effect.

I don't understand the syntax: "quantities of money [this being the former
-- "as cause") are determined by quantitities of labor-time [this being
the latter -- "as effect").

> At bottom, the question is: what is Volume 1 mainly about? If
> labor-times, then what particular question(s) about labor-times do you
> think Volume 1 is intended to explain? And where in Volume 1 does Marx
> pose and analyze these key questions? What are the labor-times determined
> by? Ajit refuses to answer these questions. Paul, how would you answer
> these fundamental questions?

Answering such large questions requires a book. But Volume 1 is not
principally about MONEY.

> By the way, Paul, why do you say "[sic]" after "measured"?

Labor time not need equal labor "hours"; units of currency also change all
over the world and even change within a country (e.g., shillings were
dropped in Britain).

> > Your favorite C-M-C (or is it M-C-M'?) circuit is not even mentioned in
> > VPP.
> I am disappointed that you don't remember which, since this is my main
> point, that Volume 1 is about dM.

Marx discusses both in Volume 1 and neither in VPP. Why not focus on
C-M-C if you we must choose?
> Paul (and Ajit), how do you explain the monetary nature of this entire
> lecture [in VPP] and its relation to Volume 1 of Capital? What do you
> think the lecture is mainly about?

Choice of labor hours or pesos or rupees (after abstracting from the
transformation problem) is a presentation decision of the expositer for
the circumstances she or he faces.

> I think it is clear that Marx defined CONSTANT CAPITAL as being on the
> second side of this exchange transaction, on the MEANS OF PURCHASE side,
> as that which is used to purchase the means of production. This means of
> purchase of course can only be MONEY. Therefore, I conclude that Marx
> defined constant capital in terms of money, as the money used to purchase
> the means of production in the first phase of the circulation of
> capital.

Where is there a purchase using MONEY in Theories of Surplus Value, Part
II, "The Direct Transformation of a Part of Surplus-Value into Constant
Capital -- a Characteristic Peculiar to Accumulation in Agriculture and
the Machine-building Industry"?

Concerning my citation "The value of a commodity is certainly determined
by the quantity of labor contained in it...." [Marx, Volume 1, p. 318],
Fred replies,
> Paul, I think you are confusing here "is" and "is determined by". I would
> agree that the value of a commodity IS DETERMINED BY the quantity of labor
> contained in it. But that does not mean that the value of a commodity IS
> the quantity of labor contained in it.... [T]he
> value of a commodity [IS] the form of appearance of value, or the
> money-price of the commodity.

Yep, I'm confused and I remain confused: a form becomes the essence of

In any case, Fred seems to level, theoretically, production with exchange,
or even priorize exchange with money over production. He seems to reverse
the priorizing of Marx, in which Volume 1 is "The Process of Capitalist

Paul Z.

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