[OPE-L:6978] Re: Re: the cost of slaves

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.co.uk)
Date: Fri Apr 12 2002 - 17:31:07 EDT

Hi jerry,

to you only here, where is Engels say 'surplus value' was transhistorical...?  value yes.... but where sv?



p.s .   Neither you ( by sticking to imprisoned labour issue) nor rakesh...who I think goes all over the place on this matter, with a mix of strange and then perfectly acceptable ideas.....  commented on my question/ statement that ( I restate)... Cotton was produced as a commodity, its price regulated by the world market, it had a price, so a value, it became a 'cost of production'  within advanced capitalist society, surplus labour was certainly performed by the slaves.... but why do we need to go further and say 'surplus value was produced? Since as you say a wage was not paid, but only bare subsistence offered in the form of products or access to petty cultivation...value, a cash outlay directly to the labourer, was not reproduced, nor thus surplus value created. The other social forms were definitely attendant because as we both agree US slavery was a creature of capitalism...... but this is where I am trying to see how the historical development of, limits to etc of the full set of social relations expressed in mature capitalism comes about, forcing out anachronistic forms as in this case.

Does this approach manage to satisfy you? Clearly I can't have anything to do with the wild list of ideas in your list below!

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "gerald_a_levy" <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 3:19 PM
Subject: [OPE-L:6974] Re: the cost of slaves

> We have seen a number of arguments advanced by Rakesh
> and others who have claimed that slaves can produce surplus
> value:
> i) the claim has been made that the money advanced for
> the purchase of slaves represents constant capital (Rakesh
> claimed in 6956 that, although he disagrees with this position
> he doesn't think that it's an unreasonable position [more on this
> below] given how *he* thinks Fred and TSS define c);
> ii) the claim has been made by Rakesh in 6948  that the money
> advanced for the purchase of slaves represents faux frais of
> slave production. Yet, as I explained in 6955,  faux frais are
> understood to represent "incidental" expenses related to
> production and there is nothing "incidental" about money
> advanced by slaveowners for the purchase of slaves.
> iii) the claim was made by Rakesh in  6948  that the costs
> associated with the daily reproduction of slaves represents
> variable capital. Paul C goes further in 6960 and claims that
> the money spent for the purchase of slaves represents v. Then,
> in 6972 Rakesh claims that this is a "good argument" (even
> though he has already classified this expenditure as faux frais
> rather than v).
> Of course, if one claims iii) then slaves can be productive of
> surplus value. The case is a bit less clear with respect to faux
> frais but I think that -- understood properly -- the agents on whom
> faux frais are expended don't themselves produce value or surplus
> value but rather help to establish the 'setting' under which s can be
> created.   In any event, despite Rakesh's gymnastics in 6956,
> it _should_ be clear that expenditures in the form of constant
> capital do not result in the self-expansion of value.
> What hasn't been mentioned explicitly  yet is another position
> -- one advanced by Marx -- years after he wrote what
> became the _Theories of Surplus Value_:  namely, that "in the
> slave system, the money laid out on the purchase of labour-power
> plays the role of fixed capital in the money form, and is only
> gradually replaced as the active life of the slave comes to an
> end" (_Capital_, Volume 2, Penguin ed., p. 554 -- full paragraph
> extends to p. 55).
> Yet, Marx is *very* clear  (and we should be as well) that  fixed capital,
> in contrast to a portion of capital  which takes the form of *fluid*
> (or circulating) capital, does *not* have characteristic of  resulting in
> the
> self-expansion  of value.   Moreover, Marx (and we) should be clear
> that that part of the productive capital which is spent on fixed capital
> is for *means of production* ("of which the fixed capital consists").
> Nonetheless, I think that the perspective that the money allocated for
> slaves takes the form of fixed capital is fundamentally confused since
> slaves *clearly*  are not "means of production" (and thereby come to be
> represented as "dead labor").  Perhaps the reason for this is that Marx,
> as well as Rakesh, was confused by the role that slaves play (if any)
> in the creation of surplus value.  Thus, he was consistent in terms of
> believing that the production of a surplus product is a common
> characteristic of all class societies, but he was inconsistent in terms of
> comprehending whether surplus *value*  production was specific to
> "modern society" (i.e. the bourgeois mode of production). Engels,
> it seems to me, was *more*  consistent in claiming that surplus value
> is a trans-historical category (and I think that Paul C in his
> understandings of abstract labor, commodity, surplus value, etc.
> is following in the tradition of Engels -- and later Kautsky, the
> German-Austrian Social Democrats, the Bolshevik theoreticians,
> and later the "diamat" school).  So, I guess if we are to "blame"
> anyone, besides ourselves, for this confusion then it should be Marx
> himself who was wrestling with how to distinguish categories
> associated with capitalism from concepts that have transhistorical
> application for all class societies.  Where the confusion seems most
> apparent is where you have social formations where one mode of
> production is dominant but remnants of other pre-existing modes of
> production persist and *interact*  with the dominant mode.  One might also
> claim that this issue has been a source of confusion by many Marxists
> in comprehending special so-called "transitional" social formations
> where the organizing principles of alternative modes of production
> confront one another and struggle for dominance.
> In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu May 02 2002 - 00:00:09 EDT