[OPE-L:4750] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: SV and the F of D

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Tue Jan 09 2001 - 20:28:44 EST


Despite the length of your response, you did not include the post number
in which you discussed (as you claimed that you had) Marx's clear
recognition of how merchant  capitalists can profit (M'-M>0) even if the
sum of values in circulation remains the same. My memory is that you have
never in fact discussed this passage on this list or in your papers.  I
don't have my books here, but it's on the penultimate page of  Ch 5 in the
penguin edition, I believe.

Marx claims that once we understand how by the industrial circuit of
capital the sum of values does systematically increase, then he will be
able to show how interest-bearing and merhant capital, though historically
primary,  now derive from the  surplus value produced out of the circuit
of industrial capital (you said you agreed with Korsch's principle of
historical specificity; then please consult how  he concludes that chapter in his Karl Marx--if I remember
correctly, the quote from vol 2 is extremely important).

(Note that even if interest derives from the surplus value produced out of
the circuit of industrial capital, this does not mean that financial
capital cannot politically and economically dominate industrial

> But second, your "other" definition, to the effect that surplus value "is
> simply a greater sum of value at t+1 in the *system as a whole* than at t",
> isn't strong enough.  Marx says so himself on the next-to-last page of Ch.
> 5.  Suppose a commodity owner buys some raw materials like leather at
> period t [M--C], adds his or her own labor to them, and then sells the
> result for a higher amount of money at t+1 [C'--M'].  Here, as Marx says,
> the positive difference between M' and M does not count as surplus value,
> even though there is surely "a greater sum of value at t+1 in the system as
> a whole", other things equal.

This contradicts what you say below. You say Marx defines surplus value as
M' minus M; now you say that this is not sufficient for surplus value.

At any rate, there is a difference between newly produced value or an
increase of the value in circulation and surplus value, strictly defined
as M' minus M. It is obvious that merchant capitalists can  procure
surplus  value in the second sense without by that activity increasing the
value in circulation. And in the case of self exploitation, it is not by
the circulation of commodities by mercants that dM is positive--so I don't
get your point

> This understanding of the definition supports Marx's Ch. 5 conclusion that
> surplus value can't be based on a mere redistribution of existing values.
> What it does *not* support is Marx's suggestion, echoed by you above, that
> merchants' capital is incapable of extracting surplus value in the absence
> of industrial capital.  This claim has not been validly established in Ch.
> 5, and Marx elsewhere affirms to the contrary for circuits of merchant
> capital extended directly to value producers prior to the era of the
> capitalist mode of production.  More about the historical contingency of

We have gone over this before. First, Marx considers merchant capital in
this chapter soley in its circulation role, not as an element of the
putting out system. And it is indeed true that in that specified role,
merchant capital does not increase the value in circulation, though it can
serve the function of increasing the use value of commodities to their
respective owners.

Second, Marx is not trying to establish in chapter 6 alone that only by
means of free wage labor can surplus value be produced out of the
industrial circuit of capital. He is arguing that if the industrial
capitalist finds free propertyless workers-he assumes this fact
theoretically as capitalists assume it practically-- he can produce
surplus value  because it is labor power, not labor time, that is
alienated by workers,  qua juridical subjects. The question is what is
alienated by whom in the  industrial circuit of capital. I have also noted
that the "by whom" question is as important question as "the what"

I have noted repeatedly that I have no argument that additional ground are
needed to show why the production of surplus value depends on the
generalisation of free wage labor, i.e., why it cannot  depend on the
basis of the putting out system or slavery.

You make several points. On one additional point:, I think Marx is saying
that price-value disparities are irrelevant, not accidental, to the
explanation of surplus  value. His explanation for why industrial capital
can systematically  increase the value in circulation does not depend on

There is more to your message, but, I'll leave it here.

It seems that you have another explanation for surplus value on the basis
of the scarcity of capital, yet  I am quite unclear about you are
definining your terms.

Yours, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Jan 31 2001 - 00:00:03 EST