[OPE-L:8159] Re: Re: direct and indirect causes of surplus-value

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Tue Dec 10 2002 - 23:07:15 EST

On Mon, 9 Dec 2002, gerald_a_levy wrote:

> Hi again Fred. Earlier, in [8139], you wrote:
> > my equation summarizing Marx's theory  of surplus-value
> > S = m (L - Ln)
> > I argue that this equation does provide an explanation of the DIRECT
> > CAUSES of surplus-value - L and Ln (given m).  A given change in L or Ln
> > will CAUSE a change in surplus-value, by a determined amount, determined
> > by the above equation.
> > I agree that this equation does not provide an explanation of the INDIRECT
> > CAUSES (or ULTIMATE causes) of surplus-value - the causes or determinants
> > of L and Ln.  Marx's theory has quite a lot to say about the determinants
> > of L and Ln (class struggle, productivity, etc.), and you are correct that
> > this equation does not capture all of this further theory of the indirect
> > or ultimate causes of surplus-value.  But it does express Marx's theory of
> > the direct causes of surplus-value, which is the basis of the further
> >  theory of the indirect causes.
> I commented then in [8140]:
> > You are using the expressions "indirect causes" and "ultimate causes"
> > synonymously above.  This is, I think, an unusual usage of these terms.
> > What is your basis for identifying "indirect causes" of surplus value
> > with  "ultimate causes" of surplus value?
> In [8144], you then clarified:
> > I agree that equating "indirect" cause and "ultimate" cause may be
> > misleading - in the sense that the indirect causes of surplus-value that I
> > have mentioned (class struggle, productivity) - which are causes of the
> > direct causes of total labor (L) and necessary labor (Ln) - are themselves
> > caused by still other determinants.  So I will just stick to the
> > distinction between "direct" causes and "indirect" causes.
> If we say that the equation S =  m (L - Ln)  provides an explanation for
> the "direct causes" of surplus value, then our theory for the "direct
> causes" of surplus value is the same as a transhistorical theory of the
> surplus product (with the caveat that money is part of the equation).
> IMO, this equation can not adequately express the 'essential' (note
> change in terminology) character of surplus _value_ for precisely this
> reason.  For the same reason, I believe it fails as a _measure_ for
> the magnitude of surplus-value since it identifies the magnitude of surplus-
> value as the same as the magnitude of surplus product in any mode of
> production provided only that the surplus product comes to be
> expressed by money.   It is precisely the *specific class relation*
> between wage-labor and capital (and how that class relation is imbedded
> in the formula M-C-M' where M is used to purchase LP and MP, i.e.
> where both LP and MP take the commodity-form) that accounts for
> surplus _value_.  You might say that you agree with this -- but the
> point is that it doesn't show in your equation for the "direct" cause(s)
> of suplus-value.

Jerry, I am not saying that this equation is ALL of Marx's theory of
surplus-value.  This equation is part of a more general theory of
surplus-value.  In Chapter 6 of Volume 1, the necessary precondition for
the production of surplus-value is shown to be the existence of
labor-power on the market (i.e. the existence of wage-labor).  So Marx's
theory certainly includes the class relation that you
emphasize.  Surplus-value can only be produced by wage-labor.  

But then in Chapter 7, the magnitude of surplus-value is explained - by
the magnitude of surplus labor.  The class relation by itself does not
explain the magnitude of surplus-value.  The magnitude of surplus-value
can only be explained by the further theory presented in Chapter 7, which
is summarized by the above equation.  

> > What I am suggesting is that there is a "layering" of explanations of
> > surplus-value: the first layer is the identification of L and Ln as the
> > direct causes of surplus-value.  The second layer is the identification of
> > the causes of L and Ln - class struggle, productivity, etc.  A third layer
> > would be the identification of the causes or determinants of class
> > struggle, productivity, etc.
> I agree that there is a 'layering' of concepts related to surplus-value.
> What I don't agree with is your division between "direct" and "indirect"
> causes.  That is, I don't think "direct" and "indirect" causes can
> satisfactorily grasp the character of the 'layering'  of those concepts.
> Perhaps you think that the _ordering_ of the concepts in terms of the
> presentation determines what is 'direct' vs. what is an 'indirect' cause.
> That might work well in terms of interpreting many theories, but I don't
> think it adequately captures Marx's theory.

What I mean by surplus labor as a "direct cause" of surplus-value is that
an increase of surplus labor by a given amount (due to whatever further
causes) increases the magnitude of surplus-value by a proportional
amount.  What I mean by "indirect causes" are the further causes of
surplus labor (increased power of capitalists, increase of productivity,
etc.).  I think this adequately expresses Marx's theory of the magnitude
of surplus-value.  


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