[OPE-L:5267] Re: Re: Re: 's' is for surplus value (not surplus product)

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Sun Mar 25 2001 - 21:21:51 EST

Where I write

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

Jerry responds

>Surplus-value is more than a quantity

(I never said it wasn't)

> -- it
>represents a "specific social relation of production"
>(Vol 3, Penguin ed., p. 957.  Note "specific".)

I do note that.  I also note that "specific" does not mean "unique", and
that this passage still doesn't say what Jerry wants, namely that surplus
value requires capitalist production involving wage labor as a matter of
*definition*, and there are several passages in Volume 3, Jerry's own
source, that explicitly affirm the opposite conclusion.

>Employment of wage-labor by capital is already
>implied on p. 1 of Volume 1 -- well before
>the presentation (i.e. reconstruction in thought)
>of surplus-value.

Yes, Marx indicates on p. 1 that his target of analysis is the capitalist
mode of production.  Of course that doesn't mean that capitalist production
based on wage labor is part of Marx's *definition* of surplus value, as
indeed it isn't, as Marx repeatedly affirms in passages that identify
surplus-value emerging from forms of usurer's and merchant's capital that
involve the creation of new value.

>  Thus: "What is implied already
>in the commodity, and still more so in the commodity as a product of
>capital, is the reification of the social determinations of
>production and the subjectification
>[Versubjektifierung] of the material bases of
>production which characterize the entire
>capitalist mode of production" (Ibid, p. 1020).

This still doesn't say what you want it to, Jerry, because the passage
doesn't state that specifically capitalist production using wage labor is
presumed as part of the *definition* of surplus value.  

>Thus, already in the category of the commodity
>as a product of capital is presupposed the
>wage labor/capitalist social relation. Shortly
>before the above passage, Marx notes [in regard
>to "two characteristic traits (which, JL) mark the
>capitalist mode of production right from the start"]
>that "It produces its products as commodities"
>and that "... this means, first of all, that the
>worker himself appears only as a seller of
>commodities, and hence as a free labourer --
>i.e. labour generally appears as wage-labour".

Yes, that's true as a matter of description.  The passage does not say that
wage labor is part of the *definition* of surplus value.  At most it's an
aspect of the *particular* manner in which it "generally appears" under the
capitalist mode of production.

>He goes on to add "... the relationship of
>capital and wage-labour determines the whole
>character of the mode of production. The
>principal agents of this mode of production
>itself, the capitalist and the wage-labourer,
>are as such simply embodiments and
>personifications of capital and wage-labour --
>specific social characters that the social
>production process stamps on individuals,
>products of these specific social relations
>of production" (Ibid, pp. 1019-1020).

Yep, I agree with this as a matter of descriptive generalization.  Same
assessment as above.

>Note the following: "the two above characters
>of the product as commodity and the commodity
>as capitalistically produced commodity give rise
>to the *entire determination of value and the
>regulation of the total production by value"
>(Ibid, emphasis added, JL).  The determination
>-- and definitions -- of value *and surplus value*
>are based on the character of the commodity
>in the two-fold sense of being both a product
>and a *capitalistically produced* commodity.

*Jerry* says "definitions", *Marx* didn't.  *Marx*, as I've shown,
repeatedly affirms that surplus value can arise from circuits that don't
involve capitalist production based on wage labor.  

>And, Marx continues (p. 1021): "It is *only*
>because labour is presupposed in the form of
>wage-labour, and the means of production
>in the form of capital (i.e. *only* as a result
>of this specific form of these two essential
>agents of production), that *one part of the
>value (product) presents itself as surplus-
>value and this surplus-value presents itself
>as profit (rent)*, the gains of the capitalist, as
>additional available wealth belonging to him."

Yes, that's descriptively true under the capitalist mode of production, but
still not part of the definition of surplus value.  See above.

>While he goes on to say (next page) that:
>"Even though the form of wage-labour is
>decisive for the shape of the entire process
>and for the specific mode of production
>itself, it is not wage-labour that is value-
>determining. What matters in the determination
>of value is the overall social labour-time ...."
>he goes on to *add*  "But the particular
>social form in which social labour-time plays
>its determinant role in the value of commodities
>coincides  with the form of labour as wage-
>labour ....".

Yes, again I agree with this empirical characterization of the capitalist
mode of production.  I'm talking about Marx's *definition* of surplus
value, not about the manner in which he understands surplus value to be
"generally" realized under the capitalist mode of production.

In the end, I don't think we disagree much.  I agree with Jerry, and Marx,
that under the capitalist mode of production appropriation of surplus value
is generally based on capitalist production using wage labor.  But this
does not say that surplus value *requires* these conditions as a matter of
definition.  Indeed, Marx repeatedly and explicitly says just the opposite.  


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