[OPE-L:5506] Re: total surplus-value taken as given in Volume 3

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Sun May 06 2001 - 14:11:27 EDT

re Fred's 5503

>This is a belated response to Rakesh's 5390, which unfortunately I
>deleted.  Rakesh, sorry for the delay.  I have been swamped with end of
>semester stuff.  But that will be over soon.
>Rakesh said:  "I do not know what you mean by the magnitude of surplus
>value being determined in volume one."
>What I mean is that the total magnitude of surplus-value for the economy
>as a whole is determined in Volume 1, as proportional to surplus labor,
>and then this total amount does not change and is taken as given in
>Volumes 2 and 3 of Capital.
>Volume 2 is about the circulation of capital.  According to Marx's theory,
>no surplus-value is created in circulation.  Surplus-value is created in
>production.  Production is the subject of Volume 1.  In the Volume 2
>analysis of the circulation of capital, the quantity of surplus-value
>produced is assumed to have already been determined in Volume 1, and is
>taken as given in Volume 2. 
>Similarly, Volume 3 is about the distribution of surplus-value.  According
>to Marx's theory, the distribution of surplus-value (including equal rates
>of profit and prices of production) does not affect the total amount of
>surplus-value produced, as determined in Volume 1.

In the solution which I have given to the transformation 
problem--which is similar to Gouverneur's--the real magnitude of 
surplus value does indeed not change as a result of distributional 
changes resulting from the complete transformation. I gave the 
example of means of production selling below value; this would seem 
to allow for the enlargement of the mass of surplus value--and 
thereby allow for a change in distribution to change the magnitude of 
surplus value--but of course since in this example the price of 
luxuries (on which surplus value is expended) would increase,  the 
mass of surplus value does not change in real terms.

>  In the Volume 3
>analysis of the distribution of surplus-value, the total quantity of
>surplus-value is taken as given, as already determined.

But in vol 3 Marx deals with economies in the use of constant 
capital; this affects the magnitude of surplus value, no? We also 
find that turnover time affects the mass of surplus value produced 
per annum. I don't think these strict divisions hold nor do I 
understand  the importance of their holding. What's riding on this?

>For example, the general rate of profit is equal to the total amount of
>surplus-value divided by the total capital invested.  This determination
>of the general rate of profit presumes that the total amount of
>surplus-value has already been determined. 
>To further clarify, I don't just mean that surplus-value cannot increase
>from Volume 1 to Volume 3 (as you suggest in your post); I also mean that
>surplus-value cannot decrease.

But surplus value can decrease in volume 3 with the introduction of 
ground rent. Increasing ground rent payments can  raise the price of 
wage goods and thus decrease the rate of exploitation and the 
magnitude of surplus value.

>  That is, the total surplus-value does not
>change as a result of the distribution of surplus-value.  The total
>surplus-value is taken as given in Volume 3, as already determined.

And it would not change in real terms in my example either. Though I 
don't want to defend my interpretation in terms of its maintainance 
of some fixed magnitude of surplus value--I just don't understand the 
methodological importance of this architectonic stipulation--if 
that's what this is.
>Rakesh also said: "I am at a loss why exactly you think my interpretation
>undermines key claims of volume one...  In no way is my
>interpretation inconsistent with volume one findings, as you continue to
>What your interpretation contradicts is the key premise that the total
>quantity of surplus-value is taken as given in Volume 3 and does not
>change as a result of the distribution of surplus-value, as discussed

And there is the important point. I have never argued that the total 
quantity of surplus value changes as a result of distribution. If the 
means of production can be bought below  value, this "distributional" 
change does not by itself change the magnitude of surplus value. the 
latter will be changed only if IN PRODUCTION the workers transfer the 
full value of those means to the output gratis. LIVE PRODUCTIVE LABOR 
remains the only source of surplus value.

If as a result of a complete transformation cost prices are raised, 
this does not mean that surplus value, however modified, does not 
result entirely from live, productive labor or (in this case) 
surplus labor.

What exact damage is being done to the exploitation theory of value 
and surplus value?

>  According to your interpretation (which in this respect is the
>standard interpretation), the quantity of surplus-value does change as a
>result of the determination of prices of production in Volume 3.

So in conclusion:

1. surplus value does not change in real terms
2. the change in no way undermines the key volume 1 thesis that live, 
productive labor is the exclusive source of surplus value.

Moreover, my interpretation does not have Marx lapsing into logical 

Yours, Rakesh


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