[OPE-L:5704] Re: Re: total surplus-value in Marx's theory

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu May 31 2001 - 16:33:06 EDT

Hi Rakesh, thanks for your questions.  My quick replies below.

On Thu, 31 May 2001, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 10:21:19 -0700
> From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari <rakeshb@Stanford.EDU>
> Reply-To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject: [OPE-L:5701] Re: total surplus-value in Marx's theory
> 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.
> >
> >Comradely,
> >Fred
> Fred, this is not clear to me at all. So two questions:
> (1) how are you defining surplus value?

I define surplus-value as (M' - M), as I think you do.  
Surplus-value is determined, as I have argued before, by m(L - Ln) = mLs.

> (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.

My assumption was an increase of rent "and everything else remains
constant", including the labor-time required to produce agricultural
goods.  So in this case, according to Marx's theory, the price of
agricultural goods would not increase, and hence the price of wage goods
would also not increase.  Instead, the increase of rent would be offset by
a reduction of profit.

On the other hand, according to the cost-push theory of value (e.g. Adam
Smith), an increase of rent would increase the price of agricultural
goods, even though the labor-time required to produce the agricultural
goods has not changed.  

I hope this helps to clarify.


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