[OPE-L:4652] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Questions

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Fri Dec 08 2000 - 18:58:29 EST

re 4651
Hi Gil,

>  But I infer from your following answer that you don't
>think Marx adds anything else to the definition, explicitly or otherwise.
>[Please tell me if this inference is inaccurate.]

Yes,he has a definition of surplus value and a theory of its source.

>May I infer, then, that in your reading, Marx's Ch. 5 rejection of the
>possibility that surplus value results from the redistribution of existing
>value constitutes an intended *inference* from his definition of surplus
>value as the positive difference between M' and M, rather than as an
>illustration of an aspect of the *definition* of surplus value?

No new value can be created in exchange. So a colony which sells 
wares above value is paid back with the already extracted tribute. No 
new value has been created by selling above value.  In this example, 
Marx does not seem to be rejecting the possiblity that sv can result 
from exchange as a matter of definition of surplus value. So you may 
infer the former of your two possibilities. Now Roemer has shown the 
possibility of what he defines as exploitation through commodity 
exchange without a labor market, right? So the question becomes 
whether surplus value has been produced in his example, right? Is 
this what you are getting at?

>you write
>>I was trying to get at the distinction between the exchange of live
>>and dead labor. The tenability of that distinction is of course
>>crucial to fend off Steven K's critique.
>Would it be reasonable to say that while labor power, i.e.the ability to
>create "live" labor,  is necessarily embodied in living persons, the labor
>that is the substance of the *value* of labor power understood as a
>commodity is dead labor, just as the labor embodied in a manufactured
>commodity is dead labor?

Strictly speaking, I do not think labor power has value. What the 
laborer gives up in exchange with the the capitalist is not a 
commodity in which dead labor is materialized but rather the capacity 
for future live labor. The capitalist does indeed (tendentially) pay 
workers the wages which are needed for them to buy the commodities 
needed to reproduce themselves. So the value of labor power seems to 
me to be shorthand for the value of the wage goods what has been 
needed to reproduce workers (of course as long as we are assuming 
P<>V; if the price of wage goods is greater than their value, then 
the value of labor power is the price of those goods, not their 
value). Strictly speaking, I do not think labor power has value but 
for all practical purposes we can determine whether labor power has 
been sold at or below value.  But I am open to correction of 
>And again: can we infer from Marx's analysis in Chapter 6 that capitalists
>as a class must purchase labor power as a commodity in order to appropriate
>surplus value?

Sorry, I did not answer this the first time. As you know, I do think 
plantation slavery and the putting out systems were important sources 
of surplus value production in early capitalism. But I think Marx 
confines himself theoretically only to a market in which labor power 
is freely disposed. It allows him to focus on the nature of that 
perplexing exchange between proletarian and capitalist.

Yours, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Dec 31 2000 - 00:00:04 EST