[OPE-L:5312] Re: Re: Re: Re: (Response to Rakesh)

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Mon Apr 02 2001 - 01:26:48 EDT

getting techy.

At 07:32 PM 4/1/2001 -0400, you wrote:

> >Gil,
> >You argue that Marx provides no link between surplus value and the
> >commodification of labor power.
>No, I do not argue that.  I argue that he provides no coherent basis for
>this link as of Part 2 of Volume I of Capital, and where he does provide
>that basis elsewhere his argument depends in no fundamental way on his
>value analysis.
> >Surplus value can be appropriated by merchants simply by manipulating
> >exchange or through the organization of the putting out system.
>It's not a question of "manipulating exchange."  The issue is if the
>circuit of capital at issue supports the creation and appropriation by
>capitalists of new value, which presupposes that the circuit finances new
>productive activity.
> >Marx himself underlines the former possibility but argues that it
> >cannot be a secure basis for surplus value and does not tend to
> >increase the value in circulation.
>Rather, Marx says that it is not a secure basis for surplus value *after*
>the class conditions of the capitalist mode of production are in place.
>And under these conditions it doesn't "tend to increase the value in
>circulation" only because merchant capital is then, in his assessment,
>qualitatively restricted to the subsidiary role of redistributing existing
>surplus.  This does not contradict my argument.
> > He asks for our patience so he can
> >lay out its new place in bourgeois society, i.e., as a derivative
> >form of the value newly added in the industrial circuit of capital.
> >Until recently, you have refused to give Marx your patience on this
> >issue.
>I've already answered this tiresome and pointless argument at least twice.
>Once again, it's not a matter of patience, it's that Marx's argument on
>this score is demonstrably invalid.  "Patience" won't make an invalid
>argument become valid.
> >But then you say wage labor is not employed in the putting out system
> >by means of which not only does the merchant appropriate surplus
> >value but also increase the value in circulation.
> >So how can Marx jump to the commodification of labor power from the
> >existence of surplus value in the circuit of capital or even surplus
> >value in the aggregate?
>I don't know what you're asking here.
> >But Marx's interest from the very first sentence of Capital vol 1 has
> >been a fully developed bourgeois society in which free wage labor
> >contracts for a wage.
>This is yet another point that I've already answered several times over.
>The first sentence in Volume I of Capital doesn't say anything whatsoever
>about "a fully developed bourgeois society in which free wage labor
>contracts for a wage."  You supplied that language, Marx didn't.  Marx
>refers in passing to "the capitalist mode of production," but doesn't
>define what this means.  But even if he had, it seems clear from Marx's
>argument that he doesn't take the fact of wage labor as given, but rather
>sees it as part of his analytical task to *derive* the analytical basis for
>wage labor given the "contradictions" in the general formula of capital.
>If this were not the case, his arguments at the close of ch. 5 and the
>beginning of Ch. 6 would necessarily be pointless.
> >To understand how not only surplus value is appropriated but the
> >value in circulation is increased in such a society we need to grasp
> >that proletarians do not alienate their labor but labor power for
> >wages.
>But again, that is not the point the point at issue.  The point is that
>Marx analytical derivation in Vol. I, Part 2 of exchange for commodified
>labor power as the necessary basis of surplus value is logically invalid
> >Marx  simply confines himself to the island on which workers do
> >indeed find themselves;
>On invalid grounds, as I've shown. We've already gone over all of these
>points at least twice.  Why do you keep repeating them without advancing
>the argument?
>he later recognizes  the inherent instability
> >of the putting out system. And you yourself have given additional
> >explanation for its instability and general collapse.
>Yes, a possible explanation rather than a conclusive one.  But this is
>beside the point, which is that the value-theoretic argument he does put
>forward in Vol. I is invalid.
> >But Gil I think it's time we take some stock of this six year list 
> discussion.
>Not if it's going to be based on an utter caricature of my position in this
>discussion and a simple rehash of all the points you've raised, and I've
>already answered, before.
> >We have a debate about the transformation problem in which the
> >critics refuse to use Marx's definition of surplus value and cost
> >price (on the latter see Fred and Alejandro).
>I tend to doubt that, but it's not really my concern, since I think that
>Marx's value-theoretic formulations are incoherent whether or not the
>correct definition of surplus value or cost price is used in discussing the
>transformation problem.
> >we have criticisms of the falling rate of profit theory which smuggle
> >in the methodology of comparative statics without justifying its use
> >in the study of continuous technical change (as Ben Fine, Alan F and
> >Andrew K have pointed out).
>Erroneously, for the most part.
> >We have one critic who insists that Marx himself should have
> >recognized that dead labor itself is productive of new value.
>Not really my issue.
> >and we have another critic who chides Marx for not recognizing that
> >surplus value can be appropriated via long antiquated forms of
> >production in which wage labor was not used.
>This misrepresents what I've said so utterly that it once again confirms
>that you have no real idea what I've been arguing all this time.
> >I know these seem as major, decisive criticisms to many. I submit
> >that if not for the power behind them, they would obviously be
> >trivial.
>(Power?  What power?)
>And I submit that you've trivialized these criticisms by fundamentally and
>consistently misrepresenting the points at issue.  Look, if you already
>know that Marx is right in all major particulars, it's not really in your
>interest to participate in these discussions, since the attempts of those
>in "power" (snort) to come to grips with the actual (il-)logic of Marx's
>arguments can only appear as unnecessary annoyances to you.  It would be
>far more edifying, I should think, for you to focus on preaching to the
>already convinced.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
         Fax   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 872-0494
         Fax   (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810

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