[OPE-L:7943] Re: Re: relation of value to organic composition of capital

From: Simon Mohun (s.mohun@qmul.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Nov 06 2002 - 17:18:32 EST


Thanks for this. I'll think it over.


At 16:50 06/11/02 -0500, you wrote:
>Re Simon's [7930]:
>Comments without brackets below are more directly responsive
>to what you have written.
> > Let's suppose the TCC is the ratio of total means of production
>(MP) to the  total workers who work with them, expressed in
>use-value terms. <
> > If we wish  to measure this,
>I agree that there is a problem in measuring the TCC [and believe that,
>going back to the discussions by Fine and others in the 1970's, it was
>the desire to "operationalize" Marxian categories and make them more
>capable of being measured empirically that lead to some re-conceptions
>of the compositions of capital.]
> > then the denominator is unproblematically the hours
> > expended on working with these MP.
>[a. Is that unproblematic?  Well, of course hours can be counted but
>socially-necessary labor hours is a harder concept to operationalize.]
>[b. the total  quantity of workers working with MP  can remain the
>same even though the hours expended on working with those MP
>might change as with a shortening or lengthening in the workday or
>workweek. Consequently one measure -- quantity of workers -- is
>not interchangeable with  the other measure -- labor hours expended.]
> > The numerator is a difficulty. Either it
> > is a vector, in which case the TCC is a vector divided by a scalar, which
> > is hard to make sense of.
> > Or it is a scalar too, an aggregate of the MP. To
> > aggregate heterogeneous MP into a scalar requires weights. What choice is
> > there other than constant price weights?
>I agree that there is an aggregation problem here.
> > Then we need to express the TCC in value terms.
>Herein lies the rub.  If that is the case then why have the distinction
>between  TCC and VCC to begin with?
> > But this is problematic
> > because both quantities and prices are changing.
> > Accumulation typically
> > proceeds via labour-saving MP-using innovations which raise labour
> > productivity and s/v. These are processes in production. But for a rise in
> > s/v to be realised, prices must change (for that is how the war of
> > competition is fought). This happens in circulation. Hence two things are
> > going on. Capital intensity is rising in production. And prices (including
> > wages) are changing.
> > The OCC abstracts from the changes in prices. Hence it is measured at
> > constant prices, and its movement must mirror the TCC. It measures the
> > value of a change in quantities.
> > The VCC takes into account the changing values too. Hence it is a current
> > price measure.
> > (Digression: actually this is exactly the issue that made so much
> > discussion in the Cambridge-Cambridge capital controversies so dreadful. A
> > inability to distinguish between the value of a change in something and a
> > change in the value of something just led to muddle.)
> > I don't know whether I agree or disagree with your interpretation. But do
> > you have a problem with any of the above?
>Well, I agree that it is a perspective which has some practical advantages
>re operationalizing Marxian categories.  It may be that the perspective that
>you have advanced is an advance beyond what Marx wrote: i.e. an
>improvement to Marx's theory.  Yet, I'm not at all convinced that this was
>Marx's theory *and* I have reservations (described below) about its overall
>We agree that, as presented by Marx,  the TCC is expressed in terms of
>use-value.   I would go further and claim that the distinction between
>the TCC and the VCC is a more concrete manifestation of the contradictory
>relation between use-value and value.  It is because the OCC, by my reading
>Marx, encompasses both of these aspects of the value dialectic that I
>referred to it previously as a dialectical unity of the TCC and the VCC.
>Given the role that this thread -- i.e. the interplay between use-value and
>value -- plays in the whole of Marx's theory, I am very leery of abandoning
>Marx's conception of the TCC which I believe your perspective does since
>it re-casts what was a use-value relation as  a value relation.  With your
>reformulation we now have a way of measuring the TCC but we no longer
>have the opposition between use-value and value.
>It is of course true that the TCC -- and use-value in general -- can not
>as Marx defined it be objectively, independently, unambiguously, and
>unprobmatically measured.   I think that Marx thought an increase in the
>TCC was self-evident, i.e.  it  was viewed as an indisputable historical
>tendency.   Indeed, from the standpoint of the mid 19th Century the
>growth in the mass of machinery to workers employed could be viewed
>as being as self-evident as the fact that wealth in capitalist social
>formations appears as an "immense collection of commodities".
>Marx also believed that use-value could not be measured  -- yet does
>that mean that we should conclude that since it can't be  accurately
>measured it  must be modified so that it becomes value rather than
>opposition to value?  I think not.
>What I will have to think through more are the *implications* of your
>redefinition of the TCC and the OCC for the rest of Marx's theory,
>especially for interpreting Part Three of Volume 3 of _Capital_.
>The above also constitutes a reply to today's posts by Andy.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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