[OPE-L:5669] Quality-Quantity-Levels

From: Geert REUTEN (reuten@fee.uva.nl)
Date: Fri May 25 2001 - 21:50:42 EDT

I am terribly behind on OPEL-posts (and lots of other things) and I do not
quite know where to start.

These are some remarks (about 3 pages) on:
Fred [5593, 5614; 5643]; Jerry [5628; 5620; 5634]; Ajit [5640]; Andy
[5593]; Howard [5594]. All, and others not mentioned here, thanks for the
many interesting contributions.

I enter on the quantity/quality question generally.
I much agree with Nicky's replies [5617 and 5625] to Fred [5614]. (I also
liked your 5601 Nicky.) This, for my part, does not imply that quantitative
questions are unimportant [re Jerry 5628] quite on the contrary. However,
quantity without quality is pure number. The point is that the capitalist
measure of value is monetary (one can say: I don't accept that measure
"normatively" -- fine, nor do I -- but we are dealing with "positive"
theory [for brevity; please dont take me into debate about the origins of
these terms].
	In this respect most statitistics (National Accounts etc) are adequate for
us (that is up to the point where they leave this measure behind and bring
in estimates about non-monetary issues, such as e.g. estimates about the
life-time of means of production, resulting in fixed coefficients. [Ajit,
5640, speaking for myself, means of production have been a *major* concern
of VFT.] )
	Although the capitalist measure is monetary (its social form) capital
needs labour -- it needs to subsume labour. Labour as such is an
"aggregative abstraction" (like 'fruit' is an "aggregative abstraction" --
these are also contradictions, but let us leave that asside for now). As
such (neglecting difference) we can add it up, as it is added up in the
National Accounts statistics. Andy [your 5593], this can be the only
meaning of L in the expression mL. You are right that the (mL)=(abstract
labour) in VFT sense, is *one* entity. Nevertheless it is the capitalist
form of "labour" -- one entity. My, or any body else's "natural" labour
l(i) does not count -- has no existence in the capitalist economy (my house
'work', though, may be usefull at home -- to the extent that it is still
shaded away from the market it is not counted). It only counts when and if
it is subsumed under the value-form, i.e. as m(i)l(i). (Note the "two"
i's.) Of course we can write Y=mL, as we did in 'Value-Form and the State'
(VFS), but that is merely an identity. (This, Jerry 5620, is what I meant
by 'informed tautology', a term invented at the spot of my 5597, in
reference to Andrew's 'on a par' -- it confuses, I see.) In as much as the
rate of profit, r, is a culminating variable, mL is a culminating variable
-- a concentration of many determinants -- not a starting point. (Fred,
5643, and many other of your posts). It is not just that the capitalist (or
manager) anticipates the market value of commodities (thus also supply and
demand), he also anticipates on the succesfull management of the
subsumption of labour (Chris's management of the recalcitrancy of labour).
This is why I might -- as an abstraction -- go along quite some time with
Marx in Volume I (even if the analysis is often too much cast within the
Ricardian problematic [cf Nicky, Michael W., Chris] -- understandable
because that is the problematic of his day). But, with the introduction of
all the later elements in "Capital" (Volume II, III) we have new
determinants of  'the management of the recalcitrancy'. At the later level
of concretion the Volume I analysis merely "shines" in, so to speak. Thus
when we arrive at the later level, we in a way redo, recast, reunderstand,
reconceptualise the earlier analysis. (Along with the "shining in" of the
abstract determination in the concrete, the later presentation sheds new
light on the earlier.) The change in labour productivity along with change
in the composition of capital (V3, Pt 3) is a real new determinant.
Therefore, Fred, I could go along with all what you say about V1, but still
disagree that this fixes surplus-value, and that all of the rest is merely
a matter of redistribution. No quotes help here since I will keep on
understanding them at their (Marx's) level of abstraction.
	Returning to mL, like Marx's (s+v), this has different meaning (richer)
when we move to concreter determinations. (Perhaps one should dash (') and
triple dash these symbols. But then we should do the same for words like
'money'. In Capital "money" in V1, Pt has different meaning than money in
V3, Pt5, when it has richer meaning.) This is also why, as Nicky has
pointed out, the linear logic in insufficient here. This is not to say that
linear logic is nonsense (as we pointed out in VFS). It may apply within a
*moment*, within some (would be) self contained element of a particular
level of analysis.
	Nevertheless, Fred, for the sake of argument I could cast this in terms of
linear logic so as to clarify -- hopefully -- where we disagree (so this is
an internal critique). Let A be a factor of determination. S is what we
want to explain. I assume for the sake of argument that we agree on the
form/measure issues.
We move from:
(a)	S  = f(A1; A2)
to the richer explanation:
(b)	S = f(A1; A2; A3).
(Say we move from Vol I to Vol III pt 2 or 3.)
There are two possible interpretations of this. 
My view is that S(a) is a different quantity from S(b).
Your view seems to be that S(a)=S(b). If that is the case then the RHS of
(a) must be an approximation. But if it is an approximation then you have
no full determination. (In which case it is not clear what quantity you
redistribute at V3 level.)
(The other possibility is that you would say that S(a)=S(b) is an empirical
'given'; in this case the RHS of (a) is still an approximation (leaving an
unexplained `residual').)
{BTW, I think that part of the Marx problem is that he adopted the method
of critique -- then, like me now, risks to get encapsulated in the other's
problematic. End BTW.}
However, I have the feel that you are not happy with this. Will you then
say that it does in fact not matter if capitalists reckon just in terms of
the rate of surplus-value (V1) instead of the rate of profit (V3)? If only
s' matters then, e.g., capitalists will maximise their use of labour (of
course "necessary").
	This takes me to Jerry [5634] on division of labour. (Speaking for myself
it was an omission not to expand on that in VFS. On the other hand we took
the point of view, at that time, that if we had no new things to say on an
issue, i.e. if our VFT would not affect the theorisation of an issue, we
could just refer to the literature.) In face of this short discussion with
Fred it seems that we would have been clearer if we would have expanded.
(This is not altogether fair; of course we have learned over the years;
many issues are clearer to me now.) The point is that machinery and new
machinery (change in composition of capital) reshapes the labour process,
i.e. reshapes the subsumption -- the management of the recalcitrancy.

Howard [5594], I agree with the replies of Michael and Nicky to you. VFT
theorises the unity of production and exchange. Are there any direct
questions left for me to answer? If so please remind me.

Finally Ajit [5640]. Of course I dont take you for not having read VFS. I
havent read most books and I will never in my life keep that up, each day
the gap increases. I can tell you, however, that the theorisation of `means
of production' has been a major concern in setting out the tendencies of
accumualtion in that book (and after that in other work of mine). 
In case you would like to have a look at the book (it is out of print) I
can send you free a xeroxed bound copy if you give me your adress (off
list). This apllies to anybody else on this list.



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