[OPE-L:5410] Re: Re: Re: Re: turnover time and surplus value

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 24 2001 - 13:20:53 EDT

On Tue, 24 Apr 2001, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> >In the example that Marx constructs, where one capital has an
> >"annual rate of surplus value" of 100% and the other one 1000%, due to
> >differing turnovers, yet they both have s/v = 100%, Marx clearly
> >states that the "degree of exploitation" is the same in the two cases.
> If the degree of exploitation is the same, then Marx must be
> attributing the difference in profitability to time. Can time do
> such work?

Note that Marx doesn't attempt to make any calculations of
profitability in Ch XVI of Vol II, where he addresses the "turnover of
variable capital".  He constructs an example with two parallel
variable capitals: one turns over once a year and the other 10
times per year.  He summarizes the situation thus:

"In the case of both capitals A and B, we have invested a variable
capital of 100 a week. The degree of self-expansion, or the rate of
surplus-value, is likewise the same, 100%, and so is the magnitude of
the variable capital, 100. The same quantity of labour-power is
exploited, the volume and degree of exploitation are equal in both
cases, the working-days are the same and equally divided into
necessary labour and surplus-labour. The amount of variable capital
employed in the course of the year is 5,000 in either case; it sets
the same amount of labour in motion, and extracts the same amount of
surplus-value, 5,000, from the labour-power set in motion by these
two equal capitals. Nevertheless there is a difference of 900% in the
annual rate of surplus-value of the two capitals A and B."

That's it.  He counterposes the "annual rate of surplus value", which
differs dramatically between the capitals, against the "real rate of
surplus value" or degree of exploitation, which is the same in the two
cases.  No calculations of profit rates.

You can calculate profit rates if you add some information on constant
capital.  In that case the point Paul made kicks in: shortening the
turnover of v means that you are producing saleable output in a
shorter period of time, which means that you are carrying a smaller
stock of work in progress and your organic composition of capital will
be lower.  If commodities are priced at their values and the ("real")
rate of surplus value is uniform then of course capitals with lower
organic composition will show a higher rate of profit.

You objected to Paul's "work in progress" argument, but if you think
about it, it's the only meaningful interpretation of the case.  What
are the workers employed by the slow-turnover capital supposed to be
doing, while the workers for the high-turnover capital are
periodically churning out saleable output?  They must be "building
something big", that is accumulating an inventory of work in progress.
(Marx refers to the example of railways later in the chapter.) If
capitals engaged in such enterprises are to earn the same rate of
profit as capitals that turn over rapidly, their output will have to
sell at a premium relative to its value (aka price of production).

"Time", in the sense of your question, is the dual of organic
composition, and yes, differing organic composition can cause profit
rates to diverge for capitals which exploit their workers to the same


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