[OPE-L:7828] Re: Re: Re: "Hic Rhodus, hic salta!"

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 22:52:07 EDT

On Tue, 15 Oct 2002, Christopher Arthur wrote:

> Fred
> I realise my 7818 was not a proper reply to this so I reply below.
> >
> >
> >Chris, even though Volume 3 is unfinished, one point that remains
> >consistent throughout the various drafts of Capital is that the total
> >surplus-value is determined prior to its division into individual
> >parts.  I do not think we are at liberty to interpret this point any way
> >we like.  We may of course want to change or improve Marx, but I think it
> >has to be acknowledged that the prior determination of the total
> >surplus-value was Marx's own logical method.
> >
> Sure - he says that many times
> But you have to rememeber also this was before he thought through the next
> level of concreteion where inputs are in production prices.

This is not a problem if the inputs of constant capital and variable
capital are taken as given, and the same magnitudes of C and V are taken
as given, in both Marx's theory of the total surplus-value in Volume 1 and
in his theory of equal rates of profit and individual prices of production
in Volume 3.  Therefore, the magnitudes of C and V do not change as a
result of the determination of prices of production in Volume 3, and thus
the magnitude of the total surplus-value also does not change.  Therefore,
Marx's method of the prior determination of the total surplus-value, which
remains unchanged in Volume 3, is consistent with the prices of inputs at
prices of production.

Why do you think Marx had not thought this through?  Marx was aware from
the Grundrisse on that the prices of inputs are equal to prices of
production, and yet continued to emphasize, and to base the entire Volume
3 on, the assumption that the total surplus-value does not change as a
result of the distribution of surplus-value.  

> >I am glad that you agree that Volume 1 is about the class relation between
> >capitalists and workers.  Therefore, it is about the total surplus-value
> >produced by the working class as a whole, right?
> >
> No. It is more general than that. The issue of totals has not yet come up.

We have agreed that Marx's theory in Volume 1 is about the total class
relation between the capitalist class as a whole and the working class as
a whole.  The most important aspect of this total class relation is the
production of surplus-value by workers for capitalists.  Therefore, it
seems to me that Volume 1 is about the total surplus-value produced by the
working class as a whole.

How could it not be?  How could Volume 1 be about the total class relation
between capitalists and not be about the total surplus-value produced by
the working class as a whole?  

> >Why do you think it is better to conceive of the class relation between
> >capitalists and workers in real terms and the individual relations among
> >capitalists in money terms?  Capitalists actually pay workers a money
> >wage, not a real wage.  Workers produce for capitalists a money
> >surplus-value, or dM.  Isn't the goal of capitalist production dM, in
> >money terms?
> >
> That is the goal of the capitalists but it is not the goal of the workers.
> The workers are operating CMC; for them M is not an issue, only what can be
> bought with it; so I think it is reasonable to say that the class against
> class issue is specified in the real relation between wage goods and
> surplus product which results from the struggle over the pumping out of
> surplus labour.

Marx said that the aim of his theory in Volume 1 is to explain dM.  That
is what "Hic Rhodus, hic salta!" in Chapter 5 is all about.  Marx did not
say that the aim of this theory is to explain the surplus product.  The
surplus product is an ahistorical characteristic of all (or almost
all) modes of production.  But the crucial distinguishing characteristic
(the "determining purpose") of capitalist production is dM, or the
production of surplus-value, in money terms.  This crucial characteristic
is what Marx's theory in Volume 1 is intended to explain, not a price of
surplus goods that is proportional to the labor-time embodied in surplus

> >What exactly is the "substance" that you say is invariant between Volume 1
> >and Volume 3.
> >
> This is indeed the tricky one which I am not yet clear on. It would inhere
> in the surplus product but would have to be different from that physical
> aggregate in that it would be a) social b) homogenous. MY idea was that it
> would be capable of bearing contradictory social meanings and hence
> measures.

I know of nothing like this in Marx's texts.  Do you?  Please give any

What Marx himself clearly and repeatedly stated that he held invariant
between Volume 1 and Volume 3, is the total surplus-value in money
terms.  Why search for some other mysterious "substance" to hold
invariant, when Marx held the dazzling total dM invariant, visible before
our very eyes?

> >You have agreed in the past that the total surplus-value, in money terms,
> >is taken as given in Volume 3 and is not affected by the distribution of
> >surplus-value.  How do you think this total surplus-value that is taken as
> >given in Volume 3 is determined, if not by Marx's theory of surplus-value
> >in Volume 1?
> >
> Yes OK, at the intial level of abstraction of V3 the total available that
> underlies the competitive struggle of capitals is determined by the
> categories of V1 and in money terms would represent the difference between
> money new value and variable capital on condition that - as in V1 - there
> is no problem about the real wage and the money wage.

There is no "problem about the real wage and money wage" - IF variable
capital is taken as given, as the actual money-capital invested to
purchase labor-power (in the capitalist economy as a whole).  Then the
total surplus-value available at the beginning of Volume 3 for capitalists
to distribute among themselves is the actual total surplus-value, and it
is this actual total surplus-value that does not change as a result of the
distribution of surplus-value among individual capitalists in Volume 3.  

> BUt, as we know, iterating periods of production introduces problems about
> that.

There are no "iterating periods of production" in Marx, because there is
no need for them.  Marx's determination of prices of production in Part 2
of Volume 3 is not the "first stage" of an iterative process, which
eventually determines different prices of production and a different rate
of profit than in Marx's "first stage", but is instead a complete
determination of prices of production, in which the prices of both the
inputs and the outputs are equal to prices of production.


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