[OPE-L:7741] Re: does the theory of surplus value primarily concern magnitude?

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@sociais.ufpr.br)
Date: Thu Oct 03 2002 - 16:34:40 EDT

I am not confortable with the way qualitative and quantitative views on the
theory of surplus value have been proposed by Jerry and Fred as separate aspects
of surplus value. The reason for this is that the metabolism of capitalism is to
get more than it gives. The nature or quality of capital is that of getting more
than it advances. Therefore the question seems to be how to explain how the
enlargement of capital occurs. From this point of view does the distinction
qualitative/quantitative make any sense?

gerald_a_levy wrote:

> 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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