[OPE-L:6452] Re: general law of value and the world market - refs

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 10:24:10 EST

Re Jurriaan's [6450]:

Thanks for the references.  One significant reference on this
subject that deserves further attention, imo, is Ranjit Sau's
_Underdeveloped Capitalism and The General Law of Value_
(Atlantic Highlands, NJ, Humanities Press, 1984;  ISBN

* As a matter of fact, have we even discussed Sau's writings on
this list at all in the past (6 1/2 years!) ?

Sau authored a number of important books in addition to the
above, including  _Unequal Exchange, Imperialism and
Underdevelopment_  (1978) and _Trade, Capital and
Underdevelopment_ (1982).  He wrote that his 1982 book
"integrates Marx's theory of value, price, accumulation, wages,
money and interest, and follows them up so as to complete
an unfinished agenda of Marx, that is, to develop a Marxian
theory of international trade that can explain the twin process
of capitalist development and underdevelopment on the world
scale".  However, he adds that his 1984 'General Law' book
attempted more: "Having taken Marx's economics to its frontier
as it were, we have then felt the theoretical necessity and
historical demand to go beyond the narrow, mechanical
interpretation of the Marxian law of value" ('General Law',
p. vii).  In his attempt to push beyond that 'frontier', Sau clearly
thought that he was 'extending Marx'.  If for no other reason, that
means that we should pay this author and work more attention, imo.

* Does anyone know where Sau is now and what he has been
writing on?  In an Internet search,  the last writings I saw by him
were from the early 1990's.

In [6384] there was a reference  by Marx to a 'general law of value'
and other references in VI to how the law of value is 'modified' in
its application on world markets.  The way I read this was that the
'general law of value' was a more abstract subject that would have
to be 'modified' to see how it continues to operate in altered form
at a more concrete level of investigation and presentation.  Yet, Sau
understands the 'General Law of Value' somewhat differently: he
writes that the General Law of Value "is an *extension of the Marxian
law of value*. In effect, the General Law of Value puts together Marx's
own views on the distribution of surplus-value in various forms,
whereas what is commonly regarded as the Marxian law of value is a
*very special case* thereof" (Ibid, p. 28, emphasis added, JL).
Sau claims that the "Marxian law of value, in its traditional
interpretation" can not cope with the demands of being able to explain
underdeveloped capitalism and unequal exchange "hence the need for a
general law of value" (Ibid, p. 64).

He begins his more formal explanation of the General Law of Value as

"In general, the total surplus-value (S) is appropriated in *four* forms,
namely, ground rent (R), profit on merchant's capital (M), and profit
(P) and super profit (F) on 'industrial' capital. In symbol,

     S  =  R  +  M  +  P  + F                          ... (1)

The total surplus (S) consists of two components: 'surplus-value'
(S'), and 'extra surplus-value (S''), as shown in the following
    S  =   S'  + S''                                           ...(2)

(couldn't exactly make the identity sign right above, JL)

Equation (1), keeping in view (2), constitutes the fundamental
relation of what we are going to call the *General Law of Value*
(GLV). By contrast, the Marxian law of value, as usually
understood, implies:

   S  =  P                                                      ...(3)

Obviously, (3) is a special case of (1). Hence we shall refer to
the law of value as per (3), in its usual interpretation, as the
*Special Law of Value* (SLV), where the surplus is converted
entirely into profit, and such categories as rent, surplus profit
and merchant's profit do not appear"  (Ibid, p. 58, emphasis in

* Does the "Marxian law of value, as usually understood"
imply (3)?

Sau goes on to claim that the GLV has enormous explanatory

"The General Law of Value is a law that shows the essential,
recurring, persistent, objective inter-relations and causal
connections between the production of surplus-value, its
distribution, and disposal in an economy having a multiplicity
of contradictions among various classes. It is a general law
in that it takes cognizance of several ruling classes contending
for the surplus-value, as against the standard, special version
of the Marxian law of value where the surplus-value is
transformed into the capitalist's profit alone (Ibid, p. 71).

*  Is this an exaggerated claim for the explanatory power
of the GLV as understood by Sau?

* Has this and other books by Sau been subjected to rigorous
critique?  If so, what are those sources?

* Have other authors attempted to extend Sau's analysis?

In solidarity, Jerry

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