[OPE-L:8106] Re: RE: Re: philosophy and political economy

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Tue Dec 03 2002 - 21:47:09 EST

This is a couple of brief replies to Nicky's (8058) which unfortunately I
deleted by mistake.  (Hi, Nicky)

Nicky said:

"... all that matters (to the production of surplus-value) is that the
wage-bill ... does not exhaust value added.  Magnitude is therefore not
terribly interesting."

My reply:

Nicky, how could one explain why "the wage bill does not exhaust value
added" unless one has a quantitative theory of value added?  Value added
and the wage bill are both quantities, and the difference between them -
surplus-value - is also a quantity.  Therefore, the explanation of why
value added is greater than the wage-bill requires a quantitative theory
of value added.

I argue that Marx took the wage-bill (i.e. variable capital) as given, and
then assumed that the quantity of value added (VA) produced is determined
by the product of the quantity of socially necessary labor-time (L) and
money-value produced per hour (m); i.e.

	VA = m L

>From this basic assumption, the quantity of surplus-value is explained, as

	S = VA  - V		V is variable capital

	  = mL  - V

	  = m (L - Ln)		where Ln = V / m

This theory explains why value added is greater than variable capital -
because in only takes workers a part of the working day to produce
value-added equal to variable capital.  But without the assumption that VA
= mL, there would be no explanation.  

Nicky, how else could one explain why "the wage bill does not exhaust
value added;" (i.e. why value added is greater than the wage-bill)
except by providing an quantitative theory of value added?

Nicky also said:

Marx, imho, makes the mistake of developing form and content together and
in the process gets stuck in a Ricardian muddle.

My reply:

I argue that Marx did not muddle form and content together.  Rather, Marx
clearly derived the form of value - money - as the necessary form of
appearance of the content (or substance) of value - abstract labor.  This
is clear from the overall logic of Chapter 1 - abstract labor is derived
in Section 1 as the substance of value and then money is derived in
Section 3 as the necessary form of appearance of abstract labor.  

It is also clear from the following key methodological remarks in Section
1 of Chapter 1:

"Let us now look at the residue of the products of labor.  There is
nothing left of them in each case but the same phantom-like
objectivity; they are merely congealed quantities of homogeneous human
labor ...  As crystals of the SOCIAL SUBSTANCE, which is common to them
all, they are values - commodity values.

...  The common factor in the exchange relation, or in the exchange-value
of the commodity, is therefore its value.  The progress of our
investigation will lead us back to exchange-value as the NECESSARY MODE OF
EXPRESSION, OR FORM OF APPEARANCE, OF VALUE.  For the present, however, we
must consider the nature of value independently of its form of
appearance."   (C.I. 128; emphasis added)

"Now we know the SUBSTANCE of value.  It is LABOUR.  We know the MEASURE
OF ITS MAGNITUDE.  It is LABOUR-TIME.  The FORM, which stamps VALUE as
EXCHANGE-VALUE, remains to be analyzed.  But before this we need to
develop the characteristics we have already found somewhat more
fully."  (C.I. 131; emphasis in the original)


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