[OPE-L:7597] Re: Re: Re: Re: Chris A on VF theory

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 13:28:31 EDT

(just to balance the acccount....)

>At 0:39 +0100 31-08-2002, Christopher Arthur wrote:
>I  may kill you next time ... 8-)
>>I query this point about wages. First it is necessary to distinguish
>>empirical matters and conceptual matters.
>>1) Empirically in no case whatever are wages advanced prior to labour (for
>>obvious reasons).  So the only question is whether they are advanced prior
>>to sale of output. Here there are enormous variations, starting with a
>>comparison of wage perodicity and production period. the former With casual
>>labour may be a day but it may be a year when agricultural labourers were
>>paid out of the proceeds of the harvest; I beleive weekly is the norm. On
>>the latter Anyone who has ever employed a small building firm will be
>>familiar with demands to 'pay something on account' to keep the cash flow
>>in balance while the job is being done.
>>  I seem to remember Geert claiming that today workers are generally paid
>>after the sale of the output; so this would destroy your position
>>completely empirically if it were true (which I doubt). Incidentally I very
>>much doubt bank loans are for wages empirically; I guess they are for
>>But IMO the key issue is not empirical but conceptual.
>>2) I think it is very important at a volume 1 level not to have wages paid
>>in advance because this strongly suggests it is a value input to production
>>and should hence be transferred along with c. Absolutely central to Marx is
>>that labour produces its own wages as  part of the added value, so
>>conceptually, when studying the 'constitution' of capital, both the wage
>>and the sv are ex post. But c counts as input regardless of credit
>>arrangements empirically.
>>Now assume this is understood and we have already constituted capital
>>circulating. Here the question of before or after becomes indeterminate in
>>the sense that expenditures and receipts happen continuously. But in
>>calculating  its profit in its annual accounts wages come into cost price
>>regardless of when paid.
>>(BTW I raise the issue of whether 'variable capital' is correct terminology
>>given it is not v that varies since it does not appear as a constituent of
>>final value but only as a deduction from it. Any 'variation' is due to the
>>absorption of living labour which is not a value at all.)
>this is interesting, but I can't answer now, I'm leaving for some
>time. I'll come back, I ater I hope. I agree with 2, however, about
>wages in the value added. on the capitalist circuit, we defintely are
>NOT a shooll (so I'm reduced to a school of one: which means, more or
>less, I'm crazy).
Although there seems no disagreement about V1 I expand on my point so as to
be able to stress the completely different picture in V2.
The fundamanetal value relation is
Value of a commodity is a function of livinglabour + dead labour
[labour in susbsistence goods appears nowhere here; all the dead labour is
in means of production]
Then it is realised hence
Value = c + added value
v appears nowhere here. It only appears when we ask what happens to the
added value
Value = c + v + s
But this is ex post derivation. To read this as a determination of Value is
a horrendous error of vulgar economy Marx polemicised against.

ESSENTIALLY v is not advanced, it is produced (regardless of when wages are
actually paid; tho' it is worth recalling Marx stresses the workers always
give credit to the capitalist.).

Now if we turn to V2 this seems to depict a circuit where M is shown to
purchase factors including LP. But of course just because it is a circuit M
cannot be taken as given; it is in fact identical with Mprime as is obvious
in two of the circuits and obvious if one grasps what a circuit is. In a
circuit it makes no sense to speak of advances. Everything is both before
and after everything else. Of course there are orthogonal flows into and
out of the circuit, expenditures and receipts; but this makes little
More seriously, the circuit depicts already constituted capital as such a
cycle of expenditures and receipts and in this way completely mystifies the
essential relations. Although it is mid-way between the essentialities of
V1 and the illusions springing from the profit form of V3 it is closer to
the latter in being - like it - at the level of appearances (albeit
objective appearances). An intelligent bourgeois like Schumpeter could no
doubt accept the circuit as an accurate description while still rejecting
a) the truth that delta m is a function of SL appears nowhere in this
circuit; to the contrary delta m appears to result from all the purchased
factors operating together -
b) the truth that workers produce their own wages appears nowhere in this
circuit; on the contrary the depiction of the circuit hides the fact
workers give credit to capitalists. -
c) if one makes a violent abstraction from the reality of the circuit and
breaks in at M then the placing of the purchase of labour power appears as
an advance; but this is seriously misleading for all the above reasons.
(btw what did Marx say about the 'wage fund'??)

The appearances, in other words, distort the essential relations.

>>?? Abstract labour *is* immediately social
>disagree: it is a process, for me: it is in production 'latent', and
>though the SAME activity it is  the opposite of  concrete labour
>which is 'becoming' abstract labour in the full sense of the world,
>yes: with final abstraction completed in the phase of exchange, but
>still the abstract labour in the commodity it is not IMMEDIATELY
>money. money is *immediately* social.
There is a distinction to be made between concrete dissociated labour which
needs to be transformed into a recognisably social shape, and abstract
labour which is conceptually immediately social albeit that it is socially
visible only with money; otherwise I fear we are back to the identification
of AL with physiology which of course is non-social.



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