[OPE-L:7921] Re: relation of value to organic composition of capital

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Nov 06 2002 - 07:11:26 EST

Hi Jerry,

There are essentially 3 things going on here: (1) an exposition of 
my take on the CCs; (2) an exposition of your own take on these; 
(3) a comparaitive evaluation of our different perspectives.

I fear they are getting a bit too muddled in our exchange thus far!

Let me reiterate that the interpretation of the CCs is essential for 
the interpretation of the essential aspects of Marx's 'Capital' that 
runs through the work of Ben F., John Weeks and those who build 
upon the work of these two authors. Nor is it difficult to 'get' this 
interpretation. You can simply read Alfredo's very short (10 page) 
ch.6 of his latest book. I will try to help with the comments below.

> Re Andy's [7915]:

> I would say, rather, that Marx asserts that  *both* TCC  and  VCC must
> change for the OCC to change.  Thus the OCC can only increase if: a)
> the TCC increases, and b) the VCC increases.

Regarding your interpretation, I am still unclear as to how you 
*distinguish* between the VCC and the OCC. But your next 
comment is helpful in this regard:

> Well, the TCC by definition isn't a measure of value.  The "relevant
> implication" is that when there has been a change in the VCC ***to the
> extent that the VCC 'mirrors' changes in the TCC*** then the OCC will
> change.  The interesting question then becomes: what happens if there
> is a change in the VCC which is *not* 'mirrored' by and 'determined'
> by a change in the TCC? In that circumstance, there could be a change
> in the VCC but not a change in the OCC, couldn't there be?

Yes. But why not, then, also allow that the TCC and OCC can 
change, whilst the VCC does not change? For example, the TCC 
could increase in magnitude, but the increase could be exactly 
offset by changes in the unit value of the components of the TCC, 
such that the VCC remains the same (e.g. the unit value of the 
means of production could decline to just offset the relative 
increase in the physical quantity of means of production). At any 
rate, on the my view this means that the TCC and OCC can go up, 
with the VCC staying the same. Indeed, the OCC *always* and 
*only* changes with the TCC on this view. The OCC is an index of 
the TCC.  The question of abstraction comes in here also. The 
OCC *abstracts* from all changes in the VCC that do not reflect 
changes in the TCC (on the view I am suggesting). The OCC, on 
this view, is an index of the TCC, an index that is necessary 
because the TCC itself comprises a ratio between a heterogenous 
set of things.

> > <snip, JL> In other words, the 
> > OCC is a category of production and abstracts away from changes in
> > values due to the exchange process (e.g. distribution of SV
> > according to profit rate equalistion), only taking into account
> > changes in the TCC. The VCC is a category of exchange and so does
> > not abstract from changes in value due to exchange. 

> I disagree.  The OCC is no more a category of production alone
> than is the VCC.   

OK. So we have a point of disagreement, or a difference of 
interpretation of the CCs. Perhaps I can elaborate upon why, on my 
view, the OCC is a category of production: firstly, the TCC is 
clearly a category of production; secondly, the OCC is, on my 
view, an index of the TCC, such that only if the TCC changes will 
the OCC will change; thirdly, this means that the OCC is a 
category of production. 

> > The OCC will only change if the TCC changes. 
> Yes, and the OCC will only change if the VCC also changes.

This is a statement of your interpretation but not of my 
interpretation. On my interpretation the OCC is an index of the 
TCC, hence changes in the VCC due to causes other than 
changes in the TCC will *not* change the OCC. 

> > Hence the  VCC is more concrete than the OCC.
> I still don't 'get' it.   Why the 'hence'?  Because the VCC 
> supposedly, by your reading, is a 'category of exchange' which
> somehow makes it more concrete? 

Perhaps my view is a bit clearer now? The OCC is an index of the 
TCC. Only if the TCC changes will the OCC change. This means 
that the OCC *abstracts* from any changes in the unit value of the 
components of the TCC. The VCC does *not* abstract from such 

For example, consider any particular production process you 
fancy. Say, for sake of example, that the TCC does not change 
over a given period (that is the same physical quantity of means of 
production is required to absorb one unit of labour). However, say 
that the *value* of the means of production *does* change during 
this period. What happens to the OCC and VCC? On my view, the 
OCC does *not* change. Why? Because it *abstracts* from the 
change in the *value* of the components of the TCC (in this case it 
abstracts from the change in value of the means of production). The 
VCC *does* change because it does *not* so abstract.

Sounds like a curious distinction? Maybe! But it allows Marx to 
distinguish between production and exchange. In turn it leads to 
extremely important conclusions regarding the transformation 
problem, the TRPF and hence the theory of capitalistic crisis. 
Moreover the distinction seems even more natural in the dynamic 
context of the TRPF. In this context the *both* the VCC *and* the 
OCC can be measured. But I'll not bore you with the details of that.

Many thanks,  


> What do others on the list think?
> In solidarity, Jerry

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