[OPE-L:6979] Re: the cost of slaves

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Apr 12 2002 - 20:17:58 EDT

Re Paul B's [6978]:

Hi Paul. I was hoping to be done for the day writing posts, but your post
deserves a prompt (if succinct) reply.

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

I'd have to go through his writings more to be able to answer your question, 
but my point wasn't that he _says_ that surplus value was transhistorical: 
my point was that he often treats the expressions surplus product and 
surplus value interchangeably, even when discussing different modes of 
production, and that this _is_ a transhistorical understanding of surplus value.   
Later-day Social Democrats, most  famously Kautsky, were probably were 
culpable than Engels for this usage.  Even Kautsky's title for Marx's review 
of economic doctrines, _Theories  of Surplus Value_, exhibits this confusion 
(it was also, I think, somewhat arrogant to label this work _TSV_ when the 
concept of s was developed by Marx himself -- even though, in _some_ ways, 
there were antecedents in the history of political economy.) 

> 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)... 

OK. Sorry about that. I'll comment below.

> 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? 

We don't!

(NB: When you write that it was a commodity, I agree *if* you
mean by that that it was a product which was produced with the
intention of being sold, i.e. a product which has both a use-value
and an exchange-value. But when you write that it had "a price,
so a value" you make a jump that I'm not prepared to make. I
will most certainly agree, though, that cotton on the market  was a 
commodity just like most other commodities, the money commodity
and labour power excluded since they  are/were unique commodities.)

> 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 

(Ummm.  Not sure which other social forms you mean.)

> 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.

I have no problem with the above. I agree that what appear to be --
or what actually are -- anachronistic forms deserve special attention.
Obviously, capitalism didn't drop from the sky fully formed (i.e. it
is a product of history) and there are many 'anachronistic' features
of contemporary and past capitalist social formations that deserve 
historical (and other forms of empirical) examination. 

> Does this approach manage to satisfy you?

I'm happy. Are you happy?

>  Clearly I can't have anything to do with the wild list of ideas in your list below!


In solidarity, Jerry

  > 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").  

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