[OPE-L:5265] Re: 's' is for surplus value (not surplus product)

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Sun Mar 25 2001 - 18:11:36 EST

Jerry, you write:

>  This follows necessarily from Marx's definitions of
>productive and unproductive labour since, by my reading,
>a requirement for labour to be productive of surplus-value is that it takes
>the form of wage-labor employed by capital.

Reading of *what*, Jerry?  Where does Marx say that employment of
wage-labor by capital is part of the *definition* of surplus value?

> This also
>is a consequence of the double meaning of
>"free labour."

No, it isn't, at least not as a strictly logical implication of the
condition that workers are "free in the double sense."  Workers can be in
this condition and yet gain access to the means of production by borrowing,
leasing, or "putting- out" product for merchant capitalists.   And to link
this point to our original discussion, borrowing or leasing is exactly what
otherwise wealth-free co-owners of worker-owned firms would have to do in
order to acquire constant capital goods.  So once again "employment of
wage-labor by capital" is not part of the *definition* of surplus-value or
even a logical implication of it.  I know of several passages in which Marx
affirms this position, and none in which he contradicts it.  Do you have one?

>I also note that while you picked-up on my
>inclusion of surplus labor time you didn't
>also note the presence of unpaid labor time.
>Unpaid labor time requires the presence of
>paid labor time and the category of  *labor
>power as a commodity* for its comprehension.

No, it doesn't.  The labor embodied in newly produced value that is used to
pay the interest of loan capital, the rent on leased capital, or the profit
of putting-out capital is also unpaid labor, in Marx's sense of the term.
To continue the passage I quoted previously from the Resultate:

"[The capital of the usurer] transforms its money into capital by extorting
*unpaid labor, surplus labor*, from the immediate producer. *But it does
not intervene in the process of production itself, which proceeds in its
traditional fashion, as it always has done." [Resultate, p. 1023 in Penguin
ed. of Volume I]

>*Of course*, there is the extraction of surplus
>labor time ... in ALL class societies.

Yes, of course.  This point is not and never has been at issue.

> Thus,
>the extraction of surplus labor was a necessary
>part of feudal and slave societies. This doesn't
>mean, though, that the surplus product takes the
>(specific social) FORM of surplus VALUE in
>non-capitalist modes of production.

I never said it did, in the categorical form you've just suggested.  Again,
this is not the point at issue.

>> Then what do you make of statements like this
>> one by Marx (of which there
>> are multiple examples):
>> "In India, for example, the capital of the usurer
>> advances raw materials or
>> tools or even both the immediate producer in the > form of money.  The
>> exorbitant interest which it attracts, the interest
>> which, irrespective of
>> its magnitude, it extorts from the primary
>> producer, is just another name
>> for surplus-value." [Resultate, P. 1023 in Penguin edition of Capital,
>> Volume I]
>I would highlight the word "attracts"  in the quote

I would highlight the phrase "surplus-value" in the quote above.  By your
analysis, Marx couldn't have said this.
The use of the specific term "attracts" is beside the point.  Marx does not
employ the word in a parallel passage in the Economic Manuscript of 1861-63:

"For example, in India the usurer advances to the ryot the moeny he needs
to plant the cotton.  Here labor is not yet formally subsumed under
capital. *[Capital] does not employ the ryot as laborer*'; he is not a wage
laborer, any more than the usurer who employs him is an industrial
capitalist...Thus even the *formal capital-relation* does not take place,
still less the specifically capitalist mode of production.  And yet the
usurer appropriates not only the whole of the surplus value created by the
ryot, i.e. all the surplus produce over and above he means of subsistence
necessary for his reproduction, but he also takes away from him part of the
latter...[Marx-Engels Collected Works, V. 34, p. 118; emphasis in original]

Notice the signal absence of the word "attracts" that was bothering you,
although Marx is obviously talking about the same historical phenomenon in
both passages.  


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