Geert, I would like to try to briefly restate what I have been arguing about Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value and the assumption of the prior determination of the total surplus-value (i.e. prior to its distribution). I think you may be interpreting my arguments too broadly. And perhaps I have been expressing my arguments too broadly. Here is what I have been trying to say: 1. I argue that most of Vol. 3 (all but Parts 1 and 3) is about the distribution of surplus-value in a given period of time, i.e. about the determination of the individual parts of the total surplus-value (average industrial profit, merchant profit, interest, and rent) in a given period. The main points of Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Volume 3 are: (1) that all the individual forms of surplus-value have only one source - surplus labor, and (2) a critique of "vulgar political economy", according to which each of the individual forms of surplus-value appear to have a separate and independent source, unrelated to surplus labor, and the total surplus-value appears to be determined by adding up these individual parts. It should be remembered that the subtitle of Capital is : "critique of political economy". Marx aimed in Capital, not only to present his own theory of capitalism, but also to thoroughly critique political economy, in all its varieties, including vulgar political economy. Volume 3 presents a critique of vulgar political economy, culminating in Part 7 ("Revenues and their Sources"). For this critique, a single period of analysis is sufficient. The question is: in this period of time, is the total surplus-value determined by surplus labor or by adding up the individual parts of surplus-value, each of which is determined in a different way? Aside from Part 3, Volume 3 does not present a dynamic theory of the development of capitalism over time. It does not present a theory of the trends over time in the relative proportions of the different types of income. Occasionally, there is a brief ad hoc discussion of changes over time, but that is not the main purpose of the analysis. The main purposes of Volume 3 are to explain the different form of surplus-value as the result of surplus labor and to critique vulgar political economy's "upside down" theory of the individual forms of surplus-value. 2. In this determination of the individual parts of surplus-value in a given period, Marx took the total surplus-value produced in this period as a given amount. For example in Part 2, the general rate of profit is determined by the ratio of the total surplus-value to the total capital invested, and the total surplus-value in the numerator is taken as given. Similarly in Part 4, the determination of the general rate of profit is modified to include commercial capital in the denominator; but the total surplus-value in the numerator remains the same. And in Parts 5 and 6, the total surplus-value is again taken as given and the theory is about how this total surplus-value is divided into profit and interest and rent. Geert, do you agree or disagree that this is the way Marx determined the general rate of profit in Part 2 and elsewhere in Volume 3? If disagree, then would you please explain how you think Marx determined the general rate of profit, and please give references to support this interpretation? Thanks. 3. The total surplus-value (that is taken as given in the Vol. 3 theory of the distribution of surplus-value) has already been determined by Marx's theory of the production of surplus-value in Vols. 1 and 2, which can be expressed algebraically by the equation: (1) S = m (L - Ln) = mLs. In other words, surplus-value is proportional to surplus labor. Aside from the proportionality factor m, surplus-value depends on nothing else besides surplus labor. This remains the basic theory of surplus-value throughout the three volumes. No new determinants are added to this theory of surplus-value in Volume 3 (more on this below). 4. Of course, the amount of surplus labor depends on many other factors, including the length of the working day, the productivity of labor, the wage rate, etc. From one period to the next, the total surplus-value could change (and usually does), due to many causes. However, such changes do not change the fundamental determination of surplus-value by equation (1) above. Furthermore, since Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value is concerned with the distribution of surplus-value within a single period, this theory takes these other factors as given within this period, along with the total amount of surplus-value. Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Volume 3 is not about how these other factors change and thus change the quantity of surplus-value. That is the subject of Part 3, but not the rest of Volume 3. Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 3 is about how the given total surplus-value is divided into individual parts (especially equal rates of profit), which then appear to have independent sources. 5. Geert, you argued in (5694): "I would argue, however, that the rate of profit (Pt-1), the GRP (Pt-2), the change in the OCC (Pt-3), etc. of V-3 all are new and very complex determinants of the production process." When you say that these factors are new determinants of "the production process", I presume you mean that these are new determinants of the total surplus-value, since that is what our discussion has been about, right? Geert, do you think that the determination of the rate of profit in a given period in Part 1 of Volume 3 changes the amount of surplus-value in that period? If so, would you please explain how? As I understand it, Marx determined the rate of profit by the ratio of surplus-value to the capital invested. The surplus-value in the numerator is taken as given. Marx's main point in this part is that the rate of profit obscures the origin of surplus-value (which remains the same), not that the amount of surplus-value changes. How could the determination of the rate of profit in this way change the amount of surplus-value in the given period? And where does Marx discuss such a change? Similar questions about the general rate of profit in Part 2. The general rate of profit in a given period is determined by the ratio of the total surplus-value to the total capital invested in this period. The general rate of profit is then used to determine the average profit added to the price of each commodity in that period. But Marx emphasizes that the distribution of the total surplus-value in this way does not change the total amount of surplus-value produced. Geert, do you think that the determination of the general rate of profit in Part 2 does change the total amount of surplus-value in the given period? If so, would you please explain how? And where does Marx discuss such a change?
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