[OPE-L:5145] Re: the capital-form and the state

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Sun Mar 11 2001 - 06:25:25 EST

Re Rakesh's [OPE-L:5142]:

> But let's say that some portion of the means of
> production which
> absorb labor and surplus labor cannot be or is best not > owned

There are many examples of "public goods" especially
in advanced capitalist societies.  In many cases, these
public goods are produced by the state because they
could not be produced efficiently by individual
capitalists (e.g. consider fire protection).  Yet, this
does not mean that the means of production thereby
employed come to take the capital-form.

> . I still think Paul B's argument is not being met
> head on.

To repeat once again: I'll let Paul B speak for
himself. I do this in order to avoid possible confusion:
I'm willing to debate Paul's position and your position
but I'm not willing to accept that your interpretation
of Paul's position is necessarily correct.

As for my own position, let me recapitualate:  wealth
is produced by labor and nature; value under
capitalism is produced by wage-labor employed by
capital in commodity production. What this means is
that some proportion of the social wealth is *not value*.
I.e. it is wealth alone but not also value.

E.g. the products produced by bonded (unfree) labor
represent wealth but not value;  objects can be
produced by nature alone and then merely be
socially appropriated and sold (wealth but not
value); unproductive labor employed by the state
can produce wealth but not value.  It is in this last
category that I place the infrastructure (such as
roads) when produced by state labor. This
infrastructure when produced by unproductive labor
can not take the capital-form because they do not take the value-form or
have value -- even though they
represent social *wealth*.  This wealth, of course,
can benefit the capitalist class within an individual
nation. Even though that may frequently be the case,
it must be distinguished from the capital-form.

Unfortunately, this distinction between value and
wealth suggested by Marx has important consequences
in terms of  our ability to reliably measure value since
it would be very difficult as a practical matter to
separate the national income accounts into the
monetary worth of social wealth which represents value
and the monetary worth of that proportion of the
social wealth that is wealth alone.  In theory, I suppose
such calculations could be done *if* governments used
these criteria in the construction of national income
accounts.  That is not the case, though.

(I had an interesting experience yesterday re roads --
actually sidewalks. I was walking down 2nd Ave. near
Houston St when I approached a barricade stretched
across the sidewalk. I was told that I would have to
pay a "sidewalk tax" in order to be allowed to pass.
The money-collectors explained to those present
that Guiliani had just passed a law taxing sidewalks.
I responded by saying "That's illegal" and I then
proceeded by saying "The sidewalks belong to the
people. This is bull ----".  One of the two guys then
took out a camera and snapped a shot of my face!
[with the suggestion that it would be used later in court proceedings]. Yet,
I noticed that down the block someone with a videocamera was taping
As I went down the block, I approached him and
said: "What is this, Candid Camera?".  He said "Yeah" and smiled. Then I
smiled as well. Of course, the state *can* charge for the use of public
roads and bridges
-- as those who pay tolls know. Yet, this does not mean that the state labor
employed in highway or bridge construction or toll collection now becomes
of surplus value).

In solidarity, Jerry

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