[OPE-L:5580] Re: Re: What is the effect of changes in Dept IIb/III?

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 01:40:47 EDT

John Ernst wrote:

> >From Allin's OPE-L 5572
> Jerry writes that an increase in labour productivity in the production
> of goods destined exclusively for capitalist consumption...
> > gives the capitalist a greater volume of use values that they can
> > enjoy for consumption purposes. But, it is not use-value alone.
> > Rather, luxury goods take the commodity form and have value which
> > is expressed through the value-form.
> >
> > This increase in the productivity of labor (as measured by an
> > increase in output per working hour) in Dept IIb (call it Dept III
> > if you like) means that the necessary labor time for productive
> > workers in this (sub-) department has decreased and surplus labor
> > time has increased. Are you asserting that the workers employed by
> > capital in this (sub-) department aren't productive of surplus
> > value?
> My comment:
> Jerry,  it seems to me that necessary labor time would not change
> due to an increase of productivity in the luxury goods sector if
> one assumes that all processes are equally profitable prior to
> the change in productivity in that sector.  However, as the
> change occurs, the luxury goods producer would earn a higher
> rate of return and the workers would be creating more social
> value than before.


Not really! The prices in luxury good sector should fall relative to prices
in the basic good sector to bring the rate of profit in the luxury good
sector in parity with the basic good sector. The rate of profits would be
determined entirely by the basic good sector, if you are dealing with
prices of production.

> If the higher rate of return induces capital to move to the luxury
> goods sector and the social value created falls such that the rate
> of return in that sector becomes equal to all others, then unless
> some of the movement changes the prices of workers' consumption goods
> the rate of surplus value, necessary labor time and the rate of
> return will not change.  Note that Marx says that relative surplus
> value is ultimately generated by changes in the values of workers'
> consumption goods.


I would largely agree with this. Cheers, ajit sinha

> In response to Jerry, Allin wrote:
> 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).
> My comment:  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

> John

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