[OPE-L:7960] Re: Re: relation of value to organic composition of capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 07 2002 - 12:34:44 EST

Since Marx meant to study the impact of the development of the forces 
of production on the relations of production, he needed a measure of 
the VCC which would only allow for the effects of rising labor 
productivity induced by techno-organization change. Just as Marx 
assumes a constant monetary expression of labor time so that he can 
isolate the effects of rising productivity on the commodity side of 
the exchange equation, he invented a measure of the VCC which would 
allow him to isolate the effects of rising labor productivity.

In my reading, the OCC is thus meant to measure only those changes in 
the VCC that result from rising labor productivity effected by 
techo-organizational change, i.e., the development of the productive 
forces. Marx gives the example of a rising VCC in agriculture though 
there has been no change in the TCC or the OCC or labor productivity 
as a result of the increasing value of ever-scarcer fertilizer. Marx 
somewhere gives another example (Capital, vol 2?). If the machinery 
used per worker were the same in a copper-using and iron-using 
industry but copper had less value than iron as a result of the 
recent discovery, say,  of a very rich copper mine, then the TCC and 
the OCC in both industries would be the same while the VCC of the 
iron-using industry would be higher. Moreover, let us assume that the 
technical configuration in copper mining has not changed upon 
discovery of this new mine. Copper now has a cheaper unit value not 
because of the development of the productive forces or 
techno-organizational change but because of the good will of nature. 
I think Marx meant to abstract from such effects--fortuitously 
cheaper copper or scarcer fertilizer--on the VCC through the 
invention of the OCC.

  However, in examination of total capital,  rising labor productivity 
has a contradictory effect on the VCC as it purchased by a rising TCC 
but results in declining unit values. More capital is used per worker 
but capital is cheapened in the course of accumulation.  Marx thought 
that as a result the OCC would rise more slowly than the TCC, but 
many empirical analysts seem to have found that relatively stable 
output-capital ratios, used as a proxy for the OCC, shows that the 
contradiction need not be resolved as Marx thought. If capital is 
being cheapened as a result of rising labor productivity more than it 
is being substituted for labor, the OCC need not rise.

I don't think the contrast between VCC and OCC hinges on use of 
constant as opposed to current prices but on the difference between 
those changes in the value composition that are attributable to 
rising labor productivity which results from the real development of 
the productive forces and those changes in the VCC that are not so 
attributable. And the OCC may or may not rise as a result of the 
science-based development of the productive forces.

It seems to me that Marx's concepts (OCC) and methodological 
assumptions  (constant value of money) arise out of his theory of 
historical materialism, in which the contradiction betweenn the 
forces of production and relations of production is thought to be 

Yours, Rakesh

>On my view 'organic' refers to the bringing to together of the two
>elements of capital, the mp and LP.
>You refer to the bringing together of use value and value. But Marx
>doesn't refer to the 'organic composition of the commodity' in order
>to refer to the unity of value and use value. Rather, he simply refers
>to the commodity. Thus I am questioning why, in further
>developments, he suddenly has to use the term 'organic' to refer to
>the unity of value and use value whereas previously he didn't.
>Many thanks,
>>  Andy asked in  [7955]:
>>  >  My question is, then, why
>>  > not simply call the 'OCC' the 'CC'? The term 'CC' would then refer
>>  > to the unity. The terms 'TCC' and 'VCC' would refer to the two poles
>>  > of the unity.
>>  Why not ask first: what meaning did Marx attach to the word "organic"
>  > in this context?  
>>  In solidarity, Jerry

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