[OPE-L:4071] Re: Revaluation

From: Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Date: Thu Oct 12 2000 - 17:38:04 EDT

Re John # 4068:

>My comment:
>For Marx, depreciation includes both that due to natural causes and
>that due to social aka moral causes.   Hence, I think you're now
>revising Marx.   I'm not sure why you're doing this.

Perhaps I'm the reincarnation of Eduard Bernstein. Hopefully, you're that
of Rosa Luxemburg, and will correct my errors before it's too late.

>Indeed, should 
>we pursue the path you propose, we would have to abandon the idea
>that the output of production processes can be seen as the sum of
>c,v, and s.   Rather the output would be the sum of c,v,s, and x
>where x is the loss or gain due to what you call "revaluation."

Despite I'm Eduard Bernstein, I read "Extirpating Simultaneous Valuation"!
In that fascinating article, I've got the idea that the magnitude of value
and its component parts should be temporally well defined. However, in the
preceding passage I don't see any temporal determination in your
magnitudes. I'd say that the first c+v+s corresponds to a certain "t" and
the other to, say, t+1. "x" is the difference between the value in t+1 and
in t, but this doesn't mean that value in t+1 is = c+v+s+x; it's, as
always, (c+v+s).

>John E.
>"Must we look at physical units involved to determine the value "used up:?"
>I think so and I think this is Marx's position in a passage like this:
>"...it follows that in the labor process the means of production transfer
>their value to the product only in so far as they lose their exchange value
>*along with their independent use value." I, Penguin, p. 311.
>My comment:  It seems to me that you would prefer that Marx rewrite
>this to say  "... only in so far as they lose their independent use
>value along with their exchange value."

No, I wouldn't. I interpret the passages surrounding that I've quoted as
saying that the effective consumption of use values is necessary in order
to transfer, i.e. to *preserve*, the value of the means of production.
Marx's accounting of the social expenditure of labor time takes into
account that society has spent some amount of labor time in a preceden
stage of the production as it's explained e.g. on Capital I, p. 294. The
transfer of value is a phenomenon occurring during the production process
which is, at the same time, a process of consumption. This is part of the
value-formation process.


>Well, I'd say that it's a loss, similar to what happened if half of the
>stock had been, let's say, burnt...
>My comment:  But these "fires" are always happening in capitalism. Much
>of the "damage" they do is fully anticipated.  That is,  when an investment
>takes place,  the time over which depreciation takes place is not 
>computed on the physical life of the asset but its economic or social
>life.  As I recall from discussions with Andrew K. on this list, Marx
>in V2 treats insurance payments or losses due to fire as deductions 
>from surplus value.   Generally, he treats losses due to revaluation 
>as depreciation in the "moral" sense.

I agree with this. The point I'm trying to make is simply that there is a
distinction between a) the transfer of value from the means of production
to the commodities in which value is preserved through the consumption of
use values by the fresh living labor --this include the "depreciation" of
fixed capital-- and, b) the processes in which the value of existing stocks
is modified due to change in productivity conditions.

I think b) is not the same that the "depreciation" occurring when the fixed
capital is consumed during the production process. I see that in the
Penguin version, p. 318, this process is described also as a
"depreciation": "If, as a result of a new invention, machinery of a
particuar kind can be produced with lessened expenditure of labour, the old
machinery undergoes a certain amount of *depreciation*..." However, if you
get the German original, Marx uses here another word "entwerten", which is
not "depreciation" but something like "devaluation", not used in English.

>"Further, you seem to take the position that one type of depreciation
>transfers value to the output and the other type does not.

The only thing both processes have in common is the word "depreciation" but
this can be an error of the English translation.

>I think so. The difference is that in one case there is an effective
>consumption of the input in order to produce another commodity.
>My comment: You now seem to have introduced still another term to get 
>around Marx on this one --  "effective consumption."

Well, revisionists as me always invent terms in order to fool people... I
meant simply that if you produce yarn you have to consume cotton, really,
don't you?

>"....I think you then face the question of why moral depreciation is to be
>labeled "depreciation" at all."

>I'd say that a better name is "lost due to revaluation" (or alternatively,
>"gain due to revaluation").
>My comment:  I'm not at all sure why you depart from Marx on this stuff.
>What is to be gained?

I don't think I'm "departing" from Marx. Actually, I cannot depart from
Belize either because there is a very bad weather here! But, kidding aside,
don't you think that you're mixing two different things only because the
word "depreciation" has been used for both?


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