Re Ian's : > The distinction between surplus product and surplus value is > important: slave owners, feudal lords, tributory systems, etc > have all appropriated surplus product (and surplus labour) but > not surplus value. However, it would be absurd to claim that > merchants, even in 'backward conditions', do not appropriate > surplus value but only surplus product, surplus labour or > just money (Marx says that money is the expression of exchange > value, even in 'backward conditions' of commodity exchange) when > they buy cheap and sell dear. I agree that buying cheap and selling dear by merchant capitalists can be conceptualized in terms of a redistribution of surplus value (even though surplus value does not 'arise' from the activities of merchant capitalists.) When I pointed to the creation of wealth as distinct from surplus value re merchant capital, I was thinking in part of the 'original' accumulation of capital. I was pointing to the distinction between surplus value and surplus product in a "wider global context", rather than merchant capital per se (see below): in that wider context whether a part of the surplus product takes the form of surplus value depends on whether that part of the surplus product takes the commodity-form and the specific class relationship under which that portion of the surplus product was produced. In solidarity, Jerry > >I agree that the redistribution of surplus value does not explain the > >whole picture where 'backward conditions' (what a terrible expression!) > >prevail. In order to explain this and the wider global context, we not > >only have to look at the distribution of surplus value but also at the > >distribution of *wealth*. Moreover, the distinction between surplus value > >and *surplus product* also has important meaning.
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