[OPE-L:7816] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Hic Rhodus, hic salta!"

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Sun Oct 13 2002 - 11:22:17 EDT

At 8:55 -0400 12-10-2002, Fred B. Moseley wrote:
>On Thu, 10 Oct 2002, Riccardo Bellofiore wrote:
>>  I agree with you that Marx likely wanted the first and third
>>  magnitudes as given thrroughout. I disagree with you that there is no
>>  evidence that Marx didn't explicitely say in vol I that the real wage
>>  is assumed to be given at the beginning of the period (is this true
>>  in fact? no. exactly as it is not necessarily true that all that is
>>  produced is sold).
>1.  Riccardo, I am glad that you agree that Marx "likely wanted" the total
>surplus-value to be unchanged in Volume 3.  But I argue that this
>unchanging total surplus-value is much more than what Marx "likely
>wanted".  This given, unchanging total surplus-value is the basic
>assumption of Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Volume
>3, which is repeated as an assumption in each and every part of Volume 3,
>as I have shown in my papers.

you have shown in your papers, ok. there is a lot of people who is 
unconvinced of the evidence. I have textual evidence for it. even in 
Bergamo it was seen that your demonstrations are sometimes very 

>  The total surplus-value is taken as given
>in Volume 3 because it has already been determined in Volume 1.

I agree. also in MY sense.

>  That the
>total surplus-value remains unchanged in Volume 3 is not a conclusion or a
>result, which Marx "likely wanted" to demonstrate, but is instead Marx's
>basic assumption of Volume 3.  I think the textual evidence on this point
>if very strong and consistent.

let me say that this wording 'assumption' looks very strange (to me) 
for an Hegelian like Marx.

>Riccardo, would you agree with this stronger wording?

so, no, it's not an assumption. what Marx did was constructing a 
theoretical object. in the transition from vol I (in values!) and vol 
III, the surplus value, both as the surplus labour embodied and as 
the surplus money representing it, is a given magnitude. these are 
results from vol I. after we have the beginning of transformation. 
and both are still there. what happens after. who knows? you know the 
end of the story FOR MARX. me not. me (as you) try to propose 
plausible stories. a good rule of thumb is to take these as 
interpretations, and to recognise that up to now no DECISIVE textual 
evidence has been shown that Marx thought that in vol I the surplus 
value was not accounted for in values, on the contrary.

>2.  The main disagreement between Riccardo and me is the determination of
>variable capital in Volume 1 and Volume 3. 
>I argue (along with the "new solution") that variable capital is TAKEN AS
>GIVEN, as the money-capital advanced by capitalists to purchase
>labor-power, and that this given money variable capital remains the same
>in both Volume 1 and Volume 3. 
>Riccardo, on the other hand, argues (along with most other Marxists and
>interpreters of Marx) that variable capital is DERIVED FROM A GIVEN
>QUANTITY OF WAGE GOODS, and that therefore variable capital changes from
>Volume 1 to Volume 3.  In Volume 1, variable capital is equal to the value
>of the given wage goods, and in Volume 3 variable capital is equal to the
>price of production of the same given wage goods. 
>I argue that there is considerable textual evidence to support my
>interpretation that variable capital is taken as given, which I have
>presented in several papers.  Riccardo has argued, and I agree, that there
>is also textual evidence that Marx takes as given the quantity of wage
>goods (or "means of subsistence") that provides the average, prevailing
>standard of living. However, this does not necessarily mean that this
>given quantity of wage goods is used to determine the magnitude of
>variable capital in Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 1.

I know what you argue, Fred. your representation of mine, in your 
hurry to define fronts is a bit rapid. as Foley know I'm not actually 
against the idea that (in reality) variable capital is the money 
capital advanced by capitalists (remember, I'm a circuitist, so 
that's almost an article of faith with me!!!), nor that is the most 
appropriate definition at a certain point in vol III. I simply say, 
and NO evidence of yours has denied this, that in volume I both 
definitions are there. more than that: I would say that all the 
places where your definition of variable capital as money advanced is 
valid (vol I assumes values thorughout 99%), also the other one is; 
BUT that there are points where ONLY the subsistence definition is 
valid. and I'v not seen a rebuttal from you.

>I argue that Marx's concept of variable capital refers to the ACTUAL money
>wages paid by capitalists to workers (in the real capitalist economy as a

actual, Fred, is a strong word. I have no objection if you recognise 
that aactual is not actual indeed. I don't think Marx was a crude 

>However, according to Marx's logical method, this actual money
>wage cannot yet be determined in Volume 1, because this actual money wage
>is identically equal to the price of the given wage goods, and the price
>of wage goods cannot be determined in Volume 1.  The determination of the
>price of wage goods has to do with the division of the surplus-value into
>individual parts, and this division of surplus-value can be explained only
>in Volume 3, after the total amount of surplus-value has been determined
>in Volume 1.  Therefore, the actual money wage CANNOT be determined in
>Volume 1 by the given quantity of wage goods, and is instead TAKEN AS
>GIVEN in Marx's theory of surplus-value in Volume 1.

may be. I see that you want that each word in the only volume of 
Capital published by the author bbe dependent from the interpretation 
of volumes never published by the author himself. I am not happy with 
this, but yes I can listen to your story.

>The given actual variable capital is then used in Volume 1 to explain the
>actual surplus-value appropriated by capitalists (in the capitalist
>economy as a whole).

used by whom? by you, of course. btw, didn't I said that when and if 
a plausible vol III story (in my sense of plausible) I would agree 
with your way of looking at the thing? your, in the sense of how 
Foley depicts your position  in RRPE 2000. so, I don't see the 
problem of actually having each single word of Marx confirmed. why 
it's so, problematic to reach your 'conclusion' starting from values 
in vol I, going on with my method of comparison, avoiding a fight for 
the existence with Sraffians, etc.?

>So what role does the given quantity of wage goods play in Marx's theory?
>It provides, first of all in Volume 1, a partial explanation of the given
>actual variable capital in Volume 1 - that it is depends in part on the
>value of the given wage goods.

in part?

>Then in Volume 3, it provides a more
>complete explanation of the given actual variable capital - that it also
>depends on the equalization of profit rates across industries which
>determines the price of production of the given wage goods.  But the given
>quantity of wage goods CANNOT be used to determine the actual variable
>capital in Volume 1, and therefore plays no role in the determination of
>the actual surplus-value in Volume 1 (as explained above).  Instead, the
>actual variable capital is taken as given, and used to determine the
>actual surplus-value.

I don't follow you. I see Marx in volume one saying explicitely that 
the subsistence is GIVEN. this word is for you tantamount in other 
places. not here. why?

>On the other hand, Riccardo's assumption of the determination of variable
>capital by the given wage goods (first as the value of the given real wage
>in Volume 1 and then as the price of production of the given real wage in
>Volume 1) means that Riccardo's variable capital in Volume 1 is NOT equal
>to the actual money wages paid to workers, but is instead equal to a
>different magnitude, the value of the wage goods.  Riccardo's variable
>capital in Volume 1 may be "actual" in some general sense of being real,
>but it is NOT actual in the particular sense of what capitalists actually
>pay to workers.

on the contrary: you forget that my 'value of variable capital' 
exists, and is actual, also in volume I, once we add that in a 
monetary economy the firms define the structure of production, and 
for the class of workers the necessary labor (in embodied terms) is 
GIVEN. if it is GIVEN, and I agree AFTER vol III so to speak the 
amount of money wages, this means that also the labour represented by 
money wage is GIVEN. is there a problem here? no, not at all. because 
the second given does not devoid of any meaning the first given. 
IMHO, btw, the first given is the MOST interesting when we look at 
the true MACRO level, which is the CLASS level, because the first 
given is what matters for total capital and the working class, your 
second is given at the micro level. and that's ok to me.

>Furthermore, since Riccardo's variable capital in Volume 1 is different
>from the actual money wages paid to workers,

NO. they are diffferent in the sense of being tow different ACTUAL 
things, both referring to the wage: one, the labour embodied in the 
total wage goods made availbale to workers, the second the labour 
represented by the money wage which buys those goods.

may I submit that your rhetoric tend to shift words in a way that 
your opponent is not saying EXACTLY what he means but something that 
for you is more easy to criticise? now, we have two different 
positions (though compatible may be at the end of the journey). let's 
recognise the difference for what it is.

may be the problem is yours: in the sense that if you have not the 
total wage gooods as given, when workers change the composition of 
their consumption you don't have anymore as given the total surplus 
value in values in vol I (against Marx), and you have to deny that 
this notion is present in Marx.

>so also Riccardo's total
>surplus-value is also different from the actual total surplus-value
>appropriated by capitalists, and is instead equal to the value of

no, same trick: you have a definition of actual surplus value, and 
apply it to me. we go together (more or less: less, because I 
recognise the ambiguities in the definition of Marx) up to a point, 
and may be we reach ourselves later. BUT I have this different 
transformation, where we see that there arise a duality between the 
TWO definitions of surplus value (surplus labour embodied, surplus 
money), which BOTH (for me) are actually there.

>This "preliminary" total surplus-value must then be
>transformed into the surplus-value actually appropriated by capitalists in
>Volume 3. 
>Another way to assess these two interpretations of the determination of
>variable capital is to examine the consistency of each interpretation with
>other aspects of Marx's logical method, and in particular, with the key
>aspect of Marx's method discussed above - the determination of the total
>surplus-value in Volume 1 prior to its division into individual parts in
>Volume 3. 
>My interpretation of a given money wage and an unchanging variable capital
>is consistent with the prior determination of the total
>surplus-value.  Since variable capital does not change from Volume 1 to
>Volume 3, and neither does the total new-value produced, the total
>surplus-value (the difference between new-value and variable capital) also
>does not change from Volume 1 to Volume 3 (it is determined in Volume 1
>and taken as given in Volume 3).

you still have not listened to me. the evidence for you is also for 
me. in  my development of vol III there is a duality of categories 
which you don't have. so MY variable capital does not change at all. 
it depends of what you mean by it, but as I have repeated again and 
again for me neither the labour embodied in wage goods change nor the 
labour represented by the money wage change (what happens is simply a 
redistribution between the capitalists producing wage goods and the 
others). may be it's crazy. but has nothing to do with your picture 
of my reconstruction (as for my interpretation, I already answered in 
prior mails)

>On the other hand, Riccardo's interpretation of the determination of
>variable capital from a given real wage means that the variable capital
>changes from Volume 1 to Volume 3.

no,  again

>Therefore the total surplus-value also
>changes inversely, thereby contradicting Marx's basic assumption in Volume
>3 of a given, unchanging total surplus-value.
>Therefore, taking variable capital as given, as the money wage advanced,
>is the more appropriate interpretation of Marx's method determination of
>variable capital, because only this assumption is consistent with Marx's
>basic assumption in Volume 3 of a given, unchanging total
>surplus-value.  If, instead, one takes the real wage as given, this
>contradicts the basic assumption of Volume 3, and the whole logic of
>Volume 3 falls apart.

you can say this because do this: say that the individual phrases 
confirms your 'macro' interpretation (logical method etc). but when 
you find contradictory evidence (subsistence wage as given in vol I, 
you say that the logical method confirms your reading of individual 
phrases. again, I see the subsistence wage as given in vol I as 
showing that your whole construction as problem AS LONG AS YOU INSIST 

>Why impose on Marx an assumption about the determination of variable
>capital that contradicts his basic assumption regarding the determination
>of the total surplus-value and leads to further "logical errors" allegedly
>committed by Marx, since there is as much textual evidence to support the
>contrary assumption?

why deny that Marx thought that in a given country and a given time 
the value of labour power refers to the subsistence wage which must 
be taken as given?

btw, you wrote 'as much', probably you wanted to write 'so much'. if 
it as much, you agree with me. no interpretation is more appropriate 
than the other.

>  Why not accept an interpretation of Marx's theory
>that is supported by substantial textual evidence and that makes Marx's
>theory a logically consistent whole?

because there does not exist this unambigous textual evidence, and 
because Marx's is not a logically consistent whole (though he tried).

thanks for your comments


ps: simple question: why do you think that Marx never published vol 
III, which was there complete for us to understand fully its logical 
method etc., and insisted in writing again and again the first 
chapter? probably he was dissatisfied of something. may I joke: you 
probably would have been happy with material tha Marx himself judged 
as worth of further work.

Riccardo Bellofiore
Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
Via dei Caniana 2
I-24127 Bergamo, Italy
e-mail:   bellofio@unibg.it, bellofio@cisi.unito.it
direct	  +39-035-2052545
secretary +39-035 2052501
fax:	  +39 035 2052549
homepage: http://www.unibg.it/dse/homebellofiore.htm

What are you working on, Herr K was asked.
Herr K replied: "I am working hard,
I am carefully preparing my next error"

Bertolt Brecht

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