[OPE-L:7851] Re: 'Hic Rhodus, hic salta!'

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Oct 23 2002 - 20:14:12 EDT

Re Paul C's [7850]:

Previously in wrote in [7845]:
> Unlike the form that the surplus product takes within other modes of
> production,  under capitalism the surplus product necessarily takes
> the form of surplus-value and hence is expressed as money (since
> under generalized commodity production where capitalism prevails
> the value-form is a necessary form of appearance of  value and money
> becomes a necessary form of appearance of the value-form).  Indeed,
> under capitalism the value of labour-power and value in general
> necessarily come to be expressed as money due to the nature of the
> commodity-form.  Thus,  the generalization of the money-form  is a
> *necessary  presumption* for the creation of value.  Without the
> money-form the relationship between the producers and the ruling
> class (and with it their shares of wealth) would  take an essentially
> different form.

Paul C responded:

> I agree that money is a necessary feature of capitalism, but that does
> not make surplus value and money profit the same thing for three reasons:

Before I get to your reasons, *I never identified surplus-value with profit
above* (or elsewhere that I can recall).

> 1. The concept of surplus value is established at the level of the basic
> relations of production and rests on the difference between necessary and
> surplus labour time. Marx's analysis in vol 1 is concerned with
> that surplus value is regulated by the relationship between necessary and
> surplus labour time, and to establishing that surplus value can thus only
> increased by either extending the working day - absolute surplus value, or
> reducing necessary labour - relative surplus value.

Yes, but  the labour-time that creates surplus-value is SNLT.   What
labor constitutes SNLT can only be known when (if) the commodity
product (C) is sold for money (M').   One can of course assume that
products that were produced in order to be sold actually sell but one can
observe in the mere assumption (presumption) that C is sold that there is
the formal possibility that it will not be.  Similarly,  in examining an
assumption of equilibrium one can identify disequilibrium conditions.
And, indeed, in the C-M' movement we can see the possibility of
disequilibrium which can only be ruled out by assumption.  Sometimes
what a theory doesn't explain tells us more about a theory than that which
is developed.  Mike L sometimes has referred to "silences" in Marx.
We have to interrogate "silences" and ask what part they play within an
overall systematic comprehension in thought of capitalism rather than
simply accept assumptions.  Thus my point to Fred about the role of
"givens" in Marx's theory -- if something is taken to be given now at one
stage in the reconstruction in thought of the object (capitalism) then one
must  be able to specify *what* later stage in the analysis it will _no
longer be_  given (but is instead shown to be either a result or modified)
and then one has to develop that comprehension.

> 2. The identification of surplus value with profit is also wrong because
> profit is only part of surplus value. Interest, rent and unproductive
> expenditure constitute major other portions of surplus value. Profit is
> thus a form of revenue,

Good points.

> or more properly an accounting category operating
> at the level of individual property relations and subdivisions of
> Its magnitude can thus vary as a result of the proportionate division of
> revenues within the propertied classes, quite independently of the
> magnitude of surplus value.

And non-propertied classes since a substantial proportion of the wages
paid to the working class take the form of deductions from surplus value
when (a portion of) those revenues are expended on  salaries for workers
\who are unproductive (of surplus value) workers.

The way I understand the question, after the sale of C for M' then the
revenues can be divided into productive consumption and unproductive
consumption of that surplus-value.  This division forms a formal limit to
the accumulation of capital since only that portion of s which is
productively consumed can expand the accumulation of capital.
A former undergraduate mentor, Jim Becker, discussed this subject at
length in his book _Marxian Political Economy_.  While I don't necessarily
agree with all that he wrote on this topic, I think it has been a largely
undeveloped subject.

> 3. As an accounting category,

Do other listmembers classify profit as _only_ a "accounting category"?

> profit is not determined by the magnitude of
> surplus labour time, instead it is driven by Kalecki's equation
> P = I + cc
> where P is profit, I is investment and cc is capitalist consumption. This
> equation is of course just another way of writing the reproduction
> of vol 2.

And it is conceptually the same as what I described in the paragraph
above that began "The way I understand the question ....".

> Profit therefore is driven by the expenditure of the capitalist class, and
> again for this reason can vary quite independently of the magnitude of
> surplus  value.

No argument.

> The key factor that varies in Kalecki's equations is of course
> employment.

That hasn't been established above.  Perhaps we should go on to
consider that question?

> The level of abstraction used is one in which the divisions of surplus
> are ignored and one just looks at the social labour budget and works out
> how many social working hours per day are required to reproduce the
> working population at its current level of consumption.
> One is not at this stage concerned with the monetary equations operating
> at the level of the national accounts which determine the accounting
> of the corporate sector, the flow of funds between it and the banking
> etc.

At the level of analysis national accounts don't all contradictions come
into play?  Or is that only the world market?

In solidarity, Jerry

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