[OPE-L:7726] does the theory of surplus value primarily concern magnitude?

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon Sep 30 2002 - 03:36:20 EDT

Re Fred's [7723]:

> 1.  My core interpretation of Marx's theory in Volume 1 is the
> following: in any given period of time, *a certain amount of actual
> surplus-value is produced in the real capitalist economy as a
> whole*.  That is the magnitude that Marx's theory of surplus-value in
> Volume 1 is about - actual and for the economy as a whole.  That is the
> magnitude that Marx's concept of surplus-value refers to, or in intended
> to represent.  That is the magnitude that I have tried to estimate from
> the NIPAs in my prior empirical work - the actual total surplus-value, or
> dM, produced in the US economy as a whole.
> Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 1 is not intended to explain the
> surplus-value produced in individual firms, nor in individual
> industries.  Nor, most relevant to the current discussion, is it intended
> to explain a different hypothetical magnitude (i.e. not equal to the
> actual surplus-value) that is instead proportional to the labor-time
> required to produce surplus goods.  This is the specific contrast between
> real and hypothetical magnitudes that I am emphasizing.
> Jerry (and others), do you agree or disagree with this core proposition?

For the most part.

> 2.  The numbers given in Marx's examples are certainly hypothetical.  But
> they are intended to represent or illustrate the actual magnitudes of
> money-capital in the real capitalist economy as a whole.  Because that is
> what Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 1 is about.

Marx's theory of surplus value is about more than [just] magnitudes.
See below.

> 3.  Why do you consider the question of magnitudes to be a "secondary
> question" in Marx's theory?  The primary question in Marx's theory, in my
> view (as stated repeatedly), is the question of surplus-value, or
> dM.  This is a quantitative question.  Indeed, Marx remarked that
> surplus-value is "pure quantity" - i.e. all that matters about
> surplus-value is its quantity or magnitude.  So I don't see how this can
> be a "secondary question".  What do you think is the primary question?

In the context of [7720] I wrote that it was a secondary question since the
larger issue that I was discussing was the role of "hypotheticals" and
"real, actuals" in Marx's theory.   I thought that larger question needed to
be addressed before turning to the more specific question of the meaning
of  M in M-C-M'.

HOWEVER,  I strongly disagree with your perspective that the question
of surplus value "is a quantitative question".   The theory of surplus value
concerns the form that class exploitation takes under capitalism. THAT
is the primary question.   While that theory encompasses  quantitative
questions it PRIMARILY concerns QUALITATIVE social relations.

To believe that surplus value comes to be *expressed as*  a magnitude
(i.e. as pure quantity) is not to say that the "primary question" is
magnitude (and thereby quantitative).  It is because of the link between
value and the value-form that there is a necessary connection between
surplus value and the commodity-form (i.e. that exchange value is a
necessary form of appearance of value and money is a necessary form of
appearance of exchange-value in the commodity-form).  For this reason
surplus value comes necessarily to be expressed as a magnitude but
to focus only on the magnitude of surplus value obscures the fundamental
character of class exploitation.

In solidarity, Jerry

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