[OPE-L:5150] Re: Re: Re: Re: the capital-form and the state

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Mon Mar 12 2001 - 06:21:04 EST

Maybe you guys should read an old 19th century economist on this topic:

"When Ricardo here calls the wood ... a "valuable" commodity, then this 
means only that it is potentially a
use-value... But it is not a "commodity". Because for this it would, at the 
same time, have to be exchange-value,
in other words, to contain a certain quantity of labour expended upon it. 
It only becomes a commodity ... by being transformed from wood into timber. 
Or does it only become a commodity by the fact that it is sold?... Then we 
would have to say: rent is the price paid to the owner of natural forces or 
mere products of nature for the right of using those forces... But then the 
question remains to be solved, how things which have no value can have a 
price and how this is compatible with the general theory of value" (TSV II 
p. 248.)

"'The compensation given for the mine or quarry, is paid for the value of 
thecoal or stone which can be removed from them, and has no connection with 
the original and  indestructible powers of the land.' [quoting Ricardo]

No! But there is a very significant connection with the "original and 
destructible productions of the soil. The word "value" here is just as ugly 
as the phrase "repaid himself with a profit" was above.

Ricardo never uses the word value for utility or usefulness or "value in 
use". Does he therefore mean to say that the "compensation" is paid to the 
owner of the quarries and coalmines for the "value" the coal and stone have 
before they are removed from the quarry and the mine--in their original 
state? Then he invalidates his entire doctrine of value. Or does value mean 
here, as it must do, the possible use-value and hence the prospective 
exchange-value of coal or stone?" (Marx 1861 Part II, p. 249)"

At 06:03 AM 3/12/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Re Howard's [OPE-L:5148]:
>To begin with, I'm pleased to see that you took
>your fist plunge.
> > You seem to suggest that there is wealth created by value and wealth
>  created by nature that is not value.  But can you separate out the
> > part like that?  The material element of wealth always appears in a
> > specific social form.  So if we speak of ordinary commodity production,
> > role played by nature is as the bearer of some portion of aggregate social
> > labor.  That is, it cannot be that an object could be produced by nature
> > alone and then merely appropriated and sold as welath, but not as value,
> > you seem to suggest.  If I wander onto virgin land and pick an apple that
> > is a spontaneous product of nature, and I eat it, then we can speak of
> > wealth that is not value.  But if instead of eating the apple, I sell it,
> > then the apple has value and nature's contribution is that of providing
> > apple as a bearer of value.
>Suppose a capitalist obtains legal title to "virgin"
>land and then sells the title on the marketplace
>even though there has been no labour expended
>on the land and all that happens in the exchange
>is a change in title and rights to use the land.
>When the land is sold as above, it has *exchange
>value*.  Yet, despite the land taking the value-
>form and coming to be treated *as if* it
>represented value, it is not value.  Value is
>produced by labor. Yet, the land was created
>not by labor but by nature alone. Unless we want
>to say that nature alone can produce value, then
>we must reject that position. The alternative is
>to argue, as I have done, that some goods
>represent value as well as wealth (commodities)
>and other goods represent social wealth alone.
>To follow the value creation one needs to
>introduce rent as well. Thus,  the owner of the
>virgin land via exchange can lay *claim* to some
>proportion of the total social value. It thus
>looks like, since the land now has assumed the
>value-form,  that the land has value. I would say,
>rather, that there has been a *redistribution* of
>value through the mechanism of rent.  Thus,
>simply because an object is sold, we can not
>therefore assume that it has value -- even though
>in this case the land would clearly represent
> > <snip, JL>If an object takes part
> > in market exchange, then the labor incorporated > in it has value.
>See above for a counter-example. I.e. where
>an object takes part in market exchange yet
>no labor has been expended.
> > If it is unfree labor, it still will
> > exchange as value if it participates in exchange,
> > though I could imagine
> > that slave labor, for example, could be discounted the way slaves were
> > discounted to 3/5 of a person for the census count in the original U.S.
> > Constitution -- census undercounting has a venerable tradition in the U.S.
>An object can exchange *as value* but not
>actually *be* value.
> > Does unproductive labor produce wealth?  This is very tricky stuff and I
> > don't have answers.  But perhaps it would be worthwhile collecting some
> > necessary distinctions:
> > . No particular use value stamps labor as productive; labor is productive
> > when surplus value is produced.
> > . There's a distinction to be made between the
> > productive power of labor
> > and the productive power of capital -- labor power is productive when it
> > produces surplus value; capital is productive as the appropriation of the
> > powers of social labor and of the productive forces generally, e.g.
> > cooperation, science, etc.
>Don't agree. Labor can be useful, even necessary,
>for capital when it is unproductive labor.
>  This doesn't mean, therefore, that capital can be
>  "productive".
> > . Value is not produced in circulation, therefore
> > the employees of a
> > commercial capitalist are not productive laborers.
>Right, value is actualized (made *real*) when
>sold but is not produced in circulation.
> > . Although labor is unproductive, it may still take the capital form; the
> > relation of a commercial capitalist to its employees is certainly a form
> > capital.
>There is certainly a capitalist social relation
>between the commercial capitalists and the
>wage-earners who work for that capitalist.
>What is important to remember is that the
>working class is composed of those who
>are unproductive of surplus value as well as
>those who are productive of surplus value.
>For the money allocated for wage-labour to
>be considered variable capital and for it to
>actually take the capital-form, the labor must
>be productive of value and surplus value. If
>not, then it doesn't take the capital-form.
> > . The exercise of coercion does not produce value even though it may be a
> > precondition for the production of value.
>I agree. That's basically how I view the role of
>management in the process of production.
> > . The purchaser of a commodity, e.g. tanks, can spend revenue
> > unproductively even though the seller of the same commodity sells the
> > product of productive labor.
> > . Capital gets personified as the capitalist, but the personification can
> > be accomplished by an individual, or by various juridical persons, for
> > example, a corporation, or by the state.
>Wether ownership takes the legal form of a sole
>proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation does
>not alter its character as a capitalist enterprise.
>State ownership is another issue ....
>In solidarity, Jerry

Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Campbelltown, Building 11 Room 30,
School of Economics and Finance
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
Home 02 9558-8018 Mobile 0409 716 088
Home Page: http://bus.macarthur.uws.edu.au/steve-keen/

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