[OPE-L:5581] Re: What is the effect of changes in Dept IIb/III?

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 06:38:44 EDT

Re John's [5573]:

> 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.

Yes, they would be creating more value during
the same working hours (i.e. there would be no
increase in absolute surplus value).

> 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,

There might be barriers to the movement of
capital  to Dept IIb. In any event, this process is
not an instantaneous process and even if it were to
happen eventually,  how would you describe the
situation before then?

Also, what happens if the gain in productivity is
small enough that it doesn't lead to a significant
change in the expected RRI?  E.g. let's say that
the economy-wide RRI is 10% but now
instead of a RRI of 10.0% in IIb, the RRI there -
due to a small productivity increase - goes up to
10.1%.  Given the fact that a significant portion
of capital exists as stock and not money-capital
and the gain from movement would be so low,
why would we anticipate a shift into IIb?
Doesn't  it have to rise to a certain threshold
before capital flows to IIb? (also, there are
very concrete practicalities that would inhibit the
free movement of money capital under these circumstances, e.g. brokerage
transaction fees
and taxes.)

> 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.

Wasn't he in that context referring to an increase
in relative surplus value caused by labor-saving technical change?   In so
doing, he was referring
to one (the predominant) form in which relative
s can be increased.

So what happens after the productivity increase
but if there isn't an in-flow of capital into Dept IIb
or in the interim before that happens?  The
workers in Dept IIb are being paid the same
wages as before and there is no reason to
suppose that there will be a change in the value
of their consumption goods. They now produce
more output in the same working time. Why
should we then not say that there has then been a
decrease in necessary labor time and an
increase in surplus labor time in that sub-

In solidarity, Jerry

PS re Allin's 5572:  you assert that necessary and
surplus labor time are "heuristic" devices when
referring to "particular capitalist enterprises".
Since we are referring not to individual firms, but
to production departments, could you explain 
why you think that these concepts are
heuristic at that level of analysis?  Are you making
essentially the same argument that Paul made
recently about the armaments sector?

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