[OPE-L:7891] Re: Re: Volume 1 about the total surplus-value

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Sun Nov 03 2002 - 09:18:12 EST

On Fri, 1 Nov 2002, Andrew Brown wrote:

> Hi there Fred,
> Have been re-reading your stuff lately and have to admit to 
> struggling to grasp the meaning of the following:
> > Yes, this is logically possible, but wouldn't it be better if the
> > total surplus-value that is taken in Volume 3 were already determined
> > by the theory of surplus-value in Volume 1?  Wouldn't that be a
> > stronger theory than just taking the total surplus-value as given,
> > without a theoretical determination?
> > 
> > In any case, that is what Marx said he was doing - that the total
> > surplus-value taken as given in Volume 3 has already been determined
> > by the theory of surplus-value in Volume 1; i.e. by surplus labor.  
> Especially, what does 'theoretical determination' mean?
> How does it related to 'cause'?
> For me, Vol 1 tells us for sure that the substance of SV is surplus 
> labour but it provides no guarantees that the appearance form, viz, 
> 'dM', is proportional in magnitude to the substance, viz. surplus 
> labour.

Hi Andy, thanks for your comments.  

What I mean by "theoretical determination" is that the total quantity of
surplus-value is determined in Volume 1 by the following equation:

	S  =  n [ m (LT - LN ) ]  =  n [ m ( LS ) ]

where LT is the total working time for the average worker, LN is the
necessary labor-time for the average worker, m is the money value added
per hour, and n is the number of workers employed in the capitalist
economy as a whole.  

The "cause" of surplus-value is surplus labor, in the sense of the above
equation, i.e. surplus-value is proportional to surplus labor.  Every hour
that the average workers works over and above necessary labor produces m
amount of surplus-value for capitalists.  

This basic theory of the determination of the total surplus-value is not
revised or modified in the later volumes of Capital.  No new variables are
later added to this basic equation of the determination of the total
surplus-value.  This theory is amplified by exploring further the complex
determination of the key variables on the right-hand side of this equation
(LT and LN).  But the basic theory of surplus-value, as represented by
this equation, remains the same. 

This total quantity of surplus-value, as determined in Volume 1, is then
taken as given (i.e. as predetermined) in the Volume 3 theory of the
distribution of surplus-value, or the division of this given,
predetermined total amount of surplus-value into individual parts.  Marx
repeats this assumption in every part of Volume 3 (except Part 3), as I
have documented in two papers (these two papers are attached to this

"The Development of Marx's of the Distribution of Surplus-value"
in Moseley and Campbell (eds), *New Investigations of Marx's Method*

"Hostile Brothers: Marx's Theory of the Distribution of Surplus-value
    in Volume 3 of Capital"
in Reuten (ed.), *The Culmination of Capital*

For example in Part 2, the general rate of profit is determined by the
ratio of the total surplus-value to the total capital invested, and the
total surplus-value in the numerator is taken as given (as determined in
Volume 1).  Similarly in Part 4, the determination of the general rate of
profit is modified to include commercial capital in the denominator; but
the total surplus-value in the numerator remains the same, and continues
to be taken as given (as determined in Volume 1).  And in Parts 5 and 6,
the total surplus-value is again taken as given and the theory is about
how this total surplus-value is divided into profit and interest and rent.  

And then in Part 7, Marx says in a number of places that the total
surplus-value as already determined provides the limit for the parts into
which this total surplus-value is divided.  For example, the passage I
quoted in my last post in response to Paolo, an excerpt of which is:

"We have thus an *absolute limit* for the value component that forms
surplus-value and can be broken down into profit and ground-rent; this is
determined by the *excess of the unpaid portion of the working day over
its paid portion*, i.e. by the value component of the total product in
which this *surplus labor* is realized...  The *transformation of values
into prices of production does not abolish the limits to profit, but
simply affects its distribution among the various particular capitals of
which the social capital is composed* ..."(C.III:  998-1000; emphasis

And then there is the clear statement in the Grundrisse that the
equalization of the profit rate across industries does not affect its
total magnitude "ever":

*The total surplus-value ... can neither grow or decrease by this
operation* [the equalization of rates of profit. FM], ever; what is
modified thereby is not it, but only its distribution among the different
capitals.  (G. 684; emphasis added)

So we can see that Marx's theory does "provide a guarantee" that the total
surplus-value distributed in Volume 3 is equal to the total surplus-value
produced in Volume 1 (i.e. is proportional to surplus labor).  The
guarantee is that this is what Marx ASSUMED.  In Volume 3, Marx took the
total surplus-value as given, as determined in Volume 1, i.e. by the above
equation.  Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Volume 3
is about how this given, predetermined total amount of surplus-value is
divided into individual parts.  

Dumenil has written that the equality between total profit and total
surplus-value is a TAUTOLOGY.  Dumenil is correct in this respect.  This
aggregate equality is not a result which may or may not be true, depending
on the composition of capital of wage goods and surplus goods, but is an
initial assumption in Marx's theory of the distribution of surplus-value
in Volume 3.  

Andy, I hope this helps to clarify.  I look forward to your response and
to further discussion.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Nov 07 2002 - 00:00:01 EST