[OPE-L:6922] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: value-form

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat Apr 06 2002 - 12:45:58 EST

As we focus on the purchase of labor power, let's note the purchase of slaves.

The troubling question here are the determinants of the price of the 
slave. It seems that the costs to catcher, breeder and trader of 
bringing millions and millions of so called human cargo to the market 
fell over time (I shall look for relevant data as gathered by experts 
here); slaves then became so cheap that the suppliers could make 
massive profits even though slaves were sold cheaply enough that it 
was more profitable for plantation and mining capitalists to work 
slaves to death in short order rather than ensure their reproduction. 
But a lot of people profited from slavery; it was indeed the pivot 
for the development of the world capitalist market.

Now Nicky writes in 6919

>  to produce surplus value a second exchange
>would have to take place in the first stage of the circuit; i.e a purchase
>of wage labour (see justification next para).

that's what I have been waiting for;  let's see if it is there.

>  This is exactly
>the conclusion to Marx's argument (C2, pp.113-118) for wage labour as the
>necessary and sufficient condition for 'production that is pursued on a
>capitalist basis'.

Your quotes do not provide the promised justification.

>  It is expressed in first stage of circulation in the
>purchase of labour power (denoted L, by Marx: hence (M->L):
>	"M-L [the exchange of money for labour power] is the 
>characteristic moment
>of the transformation of money capital into productive capital, for it is
>the essential condition without which the value advanced in the money form
>cannot really be transformed into capital, into value-producing surplus
>value.  M-mp [the exchange of money for means of production] is necessary
>only to realise the mass of labour bought by way of M-L" (Marx, C2, p.113).

Note that a heavily ellipsed quote saying that free wage labor is 
essential does not explain

a. how you are defining wage labor and
b  *why* it is essential
c. what it is essential to

The promised justification turns out to be nothing more than a 
declaration  or appeal to authority.

What makes this labor capital positing is not that labor power was 
alienated for a money wage which in turn allows the purchase of 
commodities (C-M-C).

What in fact makes this sale of labor capital-positing is that it is 
a "sale...which signifies the buyer is now in control of the 
continuous flow of labor power, a flow which by no means has to stop 
when the amount of labour necessary to reproduce the price of labour 
has been performed."

And of course the plantation/mine capitalist owner of slaves can 
force the flow of slave labor as objectified into new commodities 
well beyond the point that the capital investment--including that in 
slaves--has been amortized which only took between three mos to one 
year, though as a result of the rapacious consumption of slave labor 
enslaved Africans often did not live more than ten years.

>  how is a theory of a specifically capitalist exploitation possible?
>  Production for markets, lending and borrowing, are not after all the
>features distinguishing capitalism from other social forms.

One can easily distinguish between slavery which is the basis of 
capitalist enterprise and slavery which is not. Marx does so, so did 
Richard Jones and JE Cairnes.

>Wage labour is necessary to the capital relation because: 1) it is the
>*only* input that turns money into money-capital (the first form of

this again is question begging. why is wage labor (as you have 
defined it) the only capital positing form of labor?

>  and 2) it is the presupposition of its further transformation
>into 'productive capital', and the latter depends not on money's function
>as a means of payment (as you are suggesting) but upon the existence of
>wage labour (i.e. the use to which the means of payment are put).

Nicky this is yet another declaration. It is not an explanation.

>  In
>short, money becomes money-capital (a capital form) only when it enables
>particular agents in the economy to *buy* the commodity labour power (as an
>input to production).

Yet another declaration.

>   This means (imo) that hte Value-form is an
>opposition of possession,

well slaves surely endured an opposition of possession.

>  that alone enables labour power (a
>non-capitalistically produced phenomenon) to take the form of a use-value
>sold on markets to the possessors of means of production (Marx, C2,

yes labor must be dispossessed to be free wage labor. How does this 
speak to the point?

>   The separation of labour power 'from the objective means of its
>application' and the need to overcome this separation in labour markets, is
>the 'true' essence of the capitalist mode of commodity production

another declaration of the true essence.

By the way I do agree that the true essence of capitalist production 
is relative surplus value (absolute surplus  runs into limits: the 
working day can only be so intensified and lengthened) and that 
relative surplus value cannot be produced if labor power does not in 
general appear on the market as a commodity--continuous technical 
change would be impeded by slave labor relations.

>  and
>characterises it as the only true form of monetary economy in which both
>labour power and money enter into the productive process as capital (an
>argument by implication from, C2, p.114)

I do not agree that wage labor is the only form; it is in an 
important sense the essential or truest form of exploitation because 
it enables the production of relative surplus value and thus Marx is 
correct to restrict himself to it. But free wage labor as you seem to 
define it is not the only form of capitalist exploitation.

>A conclusion logically follows.  If wage labour is essential for
>'production that is pursued on a capitalist basis',

again why is it essential? repetitive declaration does not make it so.

>  and the monetary wage
>contract is a 'fundametnal characteristic of the capitalist mode of
>production' (C2, p.111), then it logically follows that these are necessary
>in order taht money borrowed and advanced can exist 'in the state or form
>of productive capital, with the ability to function as creator of value and
>surplus value (p.111).

Nicky, I hope that you see this is at best a tautology.

>  Since capital is not a thing but the motion and
>metamorphosis of its forms, capital produces value from wage labour.

yes capital can produce value from wage labor. Not in dispute.

>If capitalist production is a social form based on wage labour, a variety
>of forms of exploitation are ruled out.

by definition. And I agree that pure capitalist production or 
capitalist production which is true to its concept does depend on 
free wage labor. But I am raising questions about historic and real 
capitalism which alas is a bit messy.

>  Slaves do not produce commodities

proof? what is your definition of value?

>  just because they produce products (exchange values) for markets.

they did not just market excess products or barter them. They were 
enslaved for the purpose of commodity production so as to ensure the 
valorization of capital.

>Producers using slaves may take advantage of capitalist markets,

again this makes it seem as if only excess surplus product was marketed.

>  but the
>exchange relation shouldn't be confused with the capital relation (which
>implicitly refers to the whole of the circuit and conditions for its
>reproduction, as Marx himself was at pains to point out).  Of course, we
>don't need to go on Marx's words (it is just that I find them to make a lot
>of sense in this context).

Why do you find him to make sense as you have selectively quoted him? 
I'm looking for reasons, not quotes or at least quotes with reasons 
in them.

>  Consider the alternative.  If capitalist
>production is possible on the basis of slave labour, serf labour and wage

The development of capitalism or a developed capitalism is not 
possible on any basis other than free wage labor. If that basis is 
taken away in a general way, a developed capitalism is in its death 


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