[OPE-L:5574] Re: Re: What is the effect of changes in Dept IIb/III?

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 15:12:15 EDT

On Mon, 14 May 2001, John Ernst quoted:

> The point Paul and I are making is that talk of necessary and
> surplus labour at the level of particular capitalist enterprises
> is just a heuristic device.  These concepts are properly defined
> at the social level.  Workers producing nothing but luxury good
> for capitalists are performing no necessary labour: it's _all_
> surplus.  So their becoming more productive does not raise the
> rate of surplus value.  The same amount of surplus labour is
> performed and the same surplus value produced, only now it's
> embodied in a larger mass of use-values. Ricardo was very clear on
> this (using his own terminology, of course).

and wrote:

> I think you should say that when you refer to the social level in
> this case you assume not only equilibrium conditions but also an
> equilibrium in which all processes earn the same rate of return.
> For example, if the increased productivity in the luxury goods
> sector translates into temporarily greater profitability in that
> sector, firms may shut down processes in the production of
> necessities that were earning lower rates of return. They would
> thereby lower the necessary labor time and hence the overall rate
> of return would increase.

Hmm.  You have capital being dragged out of Dept I by the prospect of
high profits in luxuries.  But that's going to reduce the output of
workers' means of subsistence.  Closing down the least profitable
processes in Dept I may raise average labour productivity there, but
only by reducing output.  Now, unless wages are cut (which is a
different matter, surely) there will be an excess demand for wage
goods and capital will flow right back.  This doesn't make much sense
to me.


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