[OPE-L:5701] Re: total surplus-value in Marx's theory

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Thu May 31 2001 - 13:21:19 EDT

re: 5700

>Geert, I have a simple question for you, which I hope clarifies the main
>point I am trying to make: 
>In a given period, if rent (or interest) were to increase (for whatever
>reason), and everything else remains the same, would the total
>surplus-value increase or remain the same, according to Marx's theory? 
>I argue that, according to Marx's theory, the total surplus-value would
>remain the same, because the total surplus-value is determined by surplus
>labor, independently of the division of the total surplus-value into
>individual parts (profit, rent, interest, etc.).  Therefore, an increase
>of rent (that is not due to an increase of surplus labor) would not affect
>the total surplus-value, but would instead be necessarily offset by a
>decline in one or more of the other individual parts of surplus-value. 
>Geert, do you agree with this?  I sure hope so.  This is the main point I
>have been trying to make. 
>I look forward to your reply.

Fred, this is not clear to me at all. So two questions:

(1) how are you defining surplus value?

(2) what happens in this case? we introduce ground rent, the price of 
wage goods rises and thus the total cost price of commodities 
produced by industrial capital rises. Now while I agree that the 
total value objectified in the commodity output would not change as a 
result of the increased price of wage goods, it's not as clear to me 
that the mass of surplus value would not change.

You are arguing that the decline in profit from a rise in the price 
of wage goods as a result of rising ground rent payments only leads 
to a compensating incline in the rent component of surplus value.

But this seems to run in accounting difficulties. For that one period 
of production in which the price of wage goods is now higher as a 
result of greater ground rent payments, the capitalists will have had 
to have laid out more variable capital in order to have employed the 
same quantity of direct labor. This raises the cost price of 
commodities. If surplus value is simply M' minus M in any given 
period of production, then it would seem that the mass of surplus 
value produced in that period of production has fallen. There is a 
smaller delta M, which will now be distributed as profit, interest 
and rent. Of course the total value produced has not changed as a 
result of the increase in wage goods due to greater ground rent 
payments, but are you sure that the mass of surplus value has not 
fallen for this period of production?

I am probably missing a very obvious point.

Comradely, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Jun 02 2001 - 00:00:09 EDT