# [OPE-L:5692] Re: Quality-Quantity-Levels

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 11:20:17 EDT

```This is a reply to Geert's (5669).

On Sat, 26 May 2001, Geert REUTEN wrote:

> 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.)

Geert, thanks very much for this very clear formulation.  I will try to be

As I understand Marx's theory, there is no new A3 when Marx moves from
Vols. 1 and 2 to Vol. 3, i.e. there are no new determinants of the
magnitude of surplus-value.  As I have shown, the magnitude of
surplus-value produced in a given period is determined by Marx's theory of
surplus-value presented in Vol. 1, as represented by the following
equation (ignoring turnover time analyzed in Vol. 2):

(1) 	S = m (L - Ln) = m Ls

No new determinants are added to this equation in Vol. 3.

Of course, L and Ln in turn depend on a number of other factors, including
the length of the working day and the productivity of labor, which Marx
analyzed extensively in Vol. 1.  However, these other factors are not
themselves direct determinants of the magnitude of surplus-value.  Rather,
these other factors are indirect determinants, i.e. they affect the
magnitude of surplus-value only through the fundamental, direct
determinants of L and Ln.

Vol. 3 is mainly about the distribution of surplus-value (all but Part
3).  Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Vol. 3 presents
no new determinants of the magnitude of surplus-value.  No new variables
are added to the RHS of equation (1).  The theory of the distribution of
surplus-value in Vol. 3 is no longer about the determination of the
Volume 1.  Rather the theory is now about the division of the
predetermined amount of total surplus-value into individual parts.  The
division of the total surplus-value into individual parts does not affect
the magnitude of the total surplus-value that is being divided up.

Geert, you mention changes in the productivity of labor and changes in the
composition of capital as new determinants of the magnitude of
surplus-value in Vol. 3.  But the productivity of labor is not a new
determinant of the magnitude of surplus-value.  As just discussed, the
effect of the productivity of labor on the magnitude of surplus-value is
extensively analyzed in Vol. 1.  The effects of a change in the
composition of capital depends on the extent to which L is affected.  But
again, the productivity of labor and the composition of capital are
indirect determinants of surplus-value, not additional direct
determinants.

Furthermore, in Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in
Vol. 3, the productivity of labor and the composition of capital are held
constant.  The productivity of labor and the composition of capital in a
given period are taken as given and determine in part the magnitude of
surplus-value produced during this period, according to Marx's theory in
Vol. 1.  In Vol. 3, Marx's question is: how is the total surplus-value
produced during this period (as already determined) divided into
individual parts (i.e. divided among individual capitalists)?  The
division of the total surplus-value into individual parts in this period
does not affect the productivity of labor and the composition of capital
(or other indirect determinants of surplus-value) in this period, and
therefore does not affect the magnitude of the total surplus-value
produced in this period.  (Of course, the division of surplus-value may
result in a change in the productivity of labor or the composition of
capital in future periods, and hence result in a change in the magnitude
of surplus-value in future periods.  But the division of surplus-value in
the given period does not change surplus-value produced in the given
period.  That is my point)

Now to my textual evidence.  I have presented dozens of passages (in two
papers) in which Marx stated in one way or another that the total amount
of surplus-value is taken as given (as predetermined) in his theory of the
distribution of surplus-value in Vol. 3, and that this total amount does
not change as a result of its division into individual parts.  I have
presented passages of this nature from each and every part of Vol. 3
(except Part 3), including especially the concluding Part 7, and also from
Marx's earlier manuscripts and several important letters.  Geert dismisses
all this textual evidence by saying that he will continue to understand
these passages "at their level of abstraction".

Geert, would you please explain what do you mean by "at their level of
abstraction"?  What is the level of abstraction to which all these
passages refer?  Do you think that Marx developed his theory of the
distribution of surplus-value further in Vol. 3 to a more concrete level
of abstraction, at which the total surplus-value is no longer taken as
given, but is somehow redetermined, such that all the passages I have
presented no longer apply?  What is this lower level of abstraction?  At
what point in Vol. 3 does Marx move to this lower level of
abstraction?  Why does the magnitude of surplus-value change at this lower
level of abstraction?  And what textual evidence is there to support this
interpretation?

It seems to me that, if answers cannot be given to these questions, then
I think it has to be concluded that Marx's many statements about the total
surplus-value taken as given in his theory of the distribution of
surplus-value, and not changing as a result of the distribution of
surplus-value, remain valid throughout Vol. 3.

Thanks again.