[OPE-L:7675] Re: Re: Re: Moving on...

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Tue Sep 17 2002 - 16:19:05 EDT

Hi Gil, I will respond in terms of constant capital, but the same argument
also applies to variable capital.  

It is true that the constant capital that Marx took as given in his theory
of surplus-value in Volume 1 and in his theory of prices of production in
Volume 3 is eventually explained (in Volume 3, after prices of production
are determined) as equal to product of the quantities of the means of
production times the unit prices associated with the prices of production
of the means of production (see point #6 in 7652).  However, this does not
mean that Marxs theory is the same as Sraffas theory, because unit prices
in Marxs theory are derived in an entirely different way from the unit
prices in Sraffas theory.  Unit prices in Sraffas theory are derived
simultaneously with the rate of profit.  Unit prices in Marxs theory are
derived by dividing the prices of production of each commodity by the
quantity of each commodity. The prices of production are derived by adding
the average profit to the given constant capital and variable capital in
each industry, where the average profit is equal to the general rate of
profit (already determined prior to prices of production) times the total
capital invested in each industry.  Therefore, the unit prices in Marxs
theory are not the same as the unit prices in Sraffas theory.  

Marxs method of taking constant capital as given in Volume 1 is not just
to "keep the argument simple," because prices of production have not yet
been explained in Volume 1.  Therefore, constant capital (the actual
money-capital invested to purchase means of production) must be taken as
given, and explained later, after prices of production have been

As for Marxs example in Chapter 9, please note that constant capital is
calculated in this example by multiplying the actual price of the cotton
times the quantity of cotton.  The actual price of cotton has not yet been
explained, but it is taken as given in the explanation of surplus-value in
Volume 1.  

Please note also that Marxs logic in the beginning of Chapter 9 is exactly
what I am suggesting.  The "money constant capital laid out" is assumed to
be $410 and the "money variable capital expended" is assumed to be
$90.  The end result of the production process is a commodity worth $590,
and therefore a surplus-value equal to $90.  The original, given capital
is now changed from M to (M+dM), from $500 to $590.  No discussion of
physical quantities or unit prices here.  


On Sun, 15 Sep 2002, Gil Skillman wrote:
> Fred, thanks again for the references and the extensive summary of your 
> argument.  With your leave, I'd like to take it step by step, in order to 
> figure out where our points of necessary disagreement are, if any exist.
> Your first point:
> >1. C and V taken as given, as quantities of money-capital
> >
> >I argue that, in Marx's theory, the quantities of constant capital and
> >variable capital are TAKEN AS GIVEN, PRESUPPOSED, as the two components of
> >the initial money capital (M) invested in the first phase of the
> >circulation of capital to purchase means of production and labor-power,
> >respectively. The initial givens in Marx's theory are NOT the physical
> >quantities of inputs, as in Sraffa's theory.
> Granting the latter statement, which is *descriptively* accurate, doesn't 
> imply any *necessary* *analytical* difference between the two approaches, 
> does it?  That is, the monetary magnitude Marx defines as "constant 
> capital" is necessarily determined by the sum of constant capital 
> commodities used up in production multiplied by their respective purchase 
> prices, isn't it?  Doesn't Marx use exactly this formulation in calculating 
> constant capital in the two examples he considers in K.I Chapter 9 (pp. 
> 327-329, Penguin)? Similarly, the monetary magnitude Marx defines as 
> "variable capital" corresponds to the wage rate paid times the units of 
> labor power employed in production, doesn't it?  Doesn't Marx invoke 
> exactly this sense in describing variable capital as "the sum total of 
> wages" at the beginning of K.I Chapter 25 (p. 762)?  Does Marx ever *deny* 
> that constant capital and variable capital are respectively determined in 
> this manner?  If not, couldn't the fact that Marx does not *in every 
> instance* resolve magnitudes of constant and variable capital into vector 
> products of input prices and input requirements reflect a wish to keep the 
> argument simple, rather than the desire to make any particular 
> *theoretical* commitment, especially since he assumes, beginning in K. I 
> Chapter 6, that commodity prices are always proportional to their 
> respective labor values?
> Gil

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