[OPE-L:5529] Re: Re: the assumptions necessary for the two equalities to hold?

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 00:45:04 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for your interesting post (5507).

On Mon, 7 May 2001, Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> Previously I asked:
> > Fred (and others): could you please specify
> > precisely what assumptions are required for the
> > > two equalities to hold?
> > > The next question, then, might be: what
> > > happens  on a more concrete level of analysis
> > > when these assumptions are dropped (snip,JL)
> > The assumptions are: (1) the same quantities of constant capital and
> > variable capital are taken as given in the determination of both values
> > and prices of production and (2) the total surplus-value is taken as given
> > (as determined in Volume 1) in the determination of the general rate of
> > profit and prices of production in Volume 3, from which it follows that
> > the total profit must be equal to the total surplus-value.
> > These assumptions are not dropped at later stages of the analysis.
> Well ... I think you misunderstood my questions
> (which are also reproduced above). When I ask
> whether the assumptions required for the two
> equalities to hold are dropped at a more concrete
> level of analysis, I  did *not*  limit my concern
> to the levels of concretion associated with
> _Capital_.   Once this is recognized then one has
> to ask *even if one accepts your position that
> the two equalities are taken as given in the level
> of analysis associated with _Capital_*, whether
> these equalities will *continue* to hold as the
> level of concretion advances beyond _Capital_.

I agree that these are two separate questions:

1.  What is Marx's logical method in Capital?

2.  How move beyond Capital to lower levels of abstraction?

To date, I have been primarily concerned with the first question, but
because it seems like a necessary preliminary to the second question, and
because there is still lack of clarity and agreement about (1).  My debate
with Rakesh has been about (1) (we have been debating passages in
Capital).  So I would like to stick to (1) right now and try to make
further progress on that question, and perhaps resolve a few issues.  

But I agree with (2) is very important too, and I plan to write a paper on
this subject this summer.  I would be happy to send you a copy.

You seem to agree with my interpretation of Capital on the key point that
Rakesh and I have been discussing - that Marx assumed that the total
surplus-value that is taken as given in Volume 3 is the same as the total
surplus-value that is determined in Volume 1- right?  If so, then you
disagree with Rakesh, who argues that the total surplus-value in Volume 3
is different from the total surplus-value in Volume 1.

> E.g.  are they still assumed to hold (and are
> _all_ of the assumptions that were made that
> led to the 'given' two equalities still valid?) at
> the level of analysis of 'competition' (i.e. 'many
> capitals' rather than 'capital in general') which
> was abstracted from in _Capital_?  

I do not think that the level of competition is entirely abstracted from
in Volume 3.  Volume 3 is mainly about the distribution of surplus-value,
i.e. the division of the total surplus-value into individual parts by
means of competition among capitals (equal rates of profit, merchant
profit, interest, and rent).  At the same time, I agree that there are
other aspects of competition, besides those discussed in Volume 3, that
are not included in Volume 3 (unequal rates of profit, credit and stock
capital, etc.).

Dussel suggests that there are two sublevels of competition - the more
abstract aspects of competition included in Volume 3 and the more concrete
aspects not included in Volume 3.  

> Let me give a couple of examples of what I am
> talking about. For the equality of value and
> prices of production to hold, then prices of
> production must be brought into existence.
> What happens if, for instance, there are
> significant barriers to the formation of prices
> of production in the form of the lack of mobility
> of capital and labor?  What happens if there is
> a 'dual economy' in which there are significant
> differences in market power, etc. between the
> two segments of the economy?  If, then, POP
> no longer exist (assuming that they ever did),
> clearly there can't be an equality between the
> sum of value and the some of nothing.

In this case, I think Marx's assumption of the prior determination of the
total surplus-value (in Volume 1) continues to hold.  The monopoly
industries would get more surplus-value, but the competitive industries
would get less.  The total surplus-value is not affected by this unequal
distribution of surplus-value, just like the total surplus-value is not
affected by the equal distribution of surplus-value.  This point was made
by Paul Mattick, Sr. in his critique of Baran and Sweezy's Monopoly
Capital back in the 1960s.  That is how I first learned about Marx's
assumption of the prior determination of the total surplus-value (prior to
its distribution) and about Marx's distinction between capital in general
and competition.  

I look forward to further discussion.


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