[OPE-L:8411] Re: Milios et al, Correct dosage of philosophy

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Thu Jan 30 2003 - 16:53:05 EST

Cologne 30-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8317]

jmilios@hol.gr schrieb  Sun, 12 Jan 2003 21:43:01 +0200:

> Jerry, you write [OPE-L:8306]:
> ‘Sticking with the measurement of surplus value, how does one measure an
> increase in the intensity of labor?  (…)  That is, how we can separate out
> increases in surplus value due to increased labor intensity (speed-up) vs.
> increased technological change?’
> I think that there are indices, like the labour share in the net product (L/Y),
> or respectively the profit share (1-L)/Y, which reveal the trend of increase in
> the absolute surplus value. However, to my view, we cannot measure this
> increase per se, as we cannot measure surplus value per se. (We can measure
> only profit, the form of appearance of surplus value). This means that we have
> to study the effect of the increase in the intensity of labor “with all other
> factors invariable”. In case that we have a simultaneous increase in labour
> productivity (due to technological change) and in the intensity of labour there
> is of course an indefinability as to which portion in the increase of the
> profit share came from which factor. We do know though, that this change is the
> outcome of two causes acting simultaneously, an increase in both the absolute
> and the relative surplus value. In this case, we may undertake a comparative
> study with cases where each factor (increase in labour intensity or labour
> productivity due to technical change) was acting separately.
> Rakesh, you write [OPE-L:8311]:
> ‘Everything changes as to the dynamcs of the system when the surplus is
> fundamentally appropriated in the value form, i.e., as alienated labor
> objectified in commodities which have to be sold for money, as opposed to taken
> as direct labor services, rent in kind, money rent or taxes.  In order to
> specify capital's laws of motion, Marx took over Richard Jones' comparative
> historical framework of the forms of rent and specified capitalism in relation
> to them, e.g. cottier, metayer rents.  To me Marx's emphasis on the form of the
> surplus stems first and foremost not from philosophers such as Aristotle or
> Hegel but from the historical and evolutionary materialist Jones whose
> influence on Marx has generated no where the interest as Hegel's or Aristotle's’
> Yes, I find your point very interesting!
> And you add:
> ‘I think the value form school is much too philosophical; following Fred,
> Alfredo, and others, I also do not accept the breaking by some value form
> theorists of the quantitative linkage  between unpaid labor time and surplus
> value as it appears phenomenally as profit, interest and rent’.

Too much philosophy, not enough philosophy, just the right amount of philosophy. How to decide
the correct dosage? By whether the political consequences are desirable or not? How to excise
philosophy cleanly from one's thinking so that no excess is left? Does one's politics decide
one's philosophy, or vice versa?

The judgement "much too philosophical", it seems to me, is a dangerous one, especially with
regard to the value theory, which claims to be the foundation of a theory which aims at
theorizing what capitalist society _is_. The question 'what is society' can only be a
philosophical question. What if "the breaking ... of the quantitative linkage  between unpaid
labor time and surplus
value" is true to the phenomena?

> I think that the linkage is notional and not quantitative, meaning that:
> a) it allows us to theoretically decipher profit as a historically specific
> form of exploitation (surplus labour appropriation)

And thus the moral ground -- a class of the unjustly exploited whose liberation from
exploitation is thus justified. Human being cast dually as exploited, oppressed and repressed,
on the one hand, calling for removal of the oppressors and exploiters, on the other. Human
being is cast into two different (principal) classes: the working class and the capitalist
class. But is the question of human being thereby settled?

> and to comprehend the laws of motion of capitalism,

Analogously to physical laws of motion (presupposing that 'laws of motion' is an applicable
category in the social dimension). Has Marxism or social science adequately thought through the
social dimension of human being?

> b) it reveals the ‘cause’ underlying the trends of change of empirically
> measurable magnitudes (eg. the labour share, see my comments on Jerry’s
> question).

"Cause" is Greek _aitios_, one important, fundamental concept in metaphysics. In Marxism, the
value of a commodity is 'blamed' (_aitios_) on labour. Is cause a category from philosophy
admissible in Marxism without question? Is it admissible to question the concept of cause as it
applies to value? Does Marxism unquestionably accept Leibniz' "grand principle" "nothing is
without cause" (_nihil est sine ratio_)?

> Besides, I believe that surplus value APPEARS (materially expresses itself) as
> profit, it does not ‘appear PHENOMENALLY’.
> It is in this sense that I fully agree with your final statement:
> ‘Marx's value theory is both qualitative (it specifies the historical specifity
> of capitalism and lays out the necessity of money) and quantitative (it
> provides a theory of the movement of economic magnitudes)’.
> Profit is exactly such an economic magnitude.

> With this opportunity I would like to make a first comment on Paul’s mail [OPE-
> L:8296]. (I will be away from home [and from most of my books] until January
> 20, so this information is only what I could find in my laptop. I will return
> to the subject after a week or so).
> Paul, you wrote:
> ‘What I was doing was challenging you to sustain your position by examining how
> Marx REVISED Volume 1 between 1867 and 1875.  I don't know the answer to my own
> question regarding value -- I was hoping you'd have explored that evidence
> (it's not
> in your book) as well as the Notes on Wagner which have a lot on value’.
> I do not think that the changes between the first and the second Editions of
> Volume 1 are significant regarding the discussed subject.
> The differences between the 1867 (first) and 1872-73 (second) Editions of
> Volume 1 are the following:
> a) A change in style: Marx labeled in Edition one the well-known Parts of Vol.
> 1 as “Chapters”, and denoted them with Latin numbers (Seven Chapters[-Parts] in
> the German edition). The well-known Chapters of Vol. 1 where labeled as sub-
> chapters (eg. I.1, I.2, etc.).
> b) A change in content is to be found only in (I), i.e. in the first Chapter of
> Vol. 1 (which is our known Part I of the second and the following editions of
> Vol. 1). This change in content is due to the fact that Edition 1 contained
> an ‘Appendix to Chapter I.1. The Value-form’, [pp. 764-784 of Vol. 1 of the
> German first Edition, 1867]. In the second Edition of Vol. 1 Marx incorporated
> this Appendix in the text of Vol. 1 (Part 1).
> Both texts, i.e. the Appendix and the text of Chapter I (corresponding to the
> text of Part I of the following editions) have been translated into English:
> 1) Two translations of the ‘Appendix’:
> -Value: Studies by Karl Marx, translated and edited by Albert Dragstedt,
> London, New Park, 1976.
> - Karl Marx, The Value-Form, Introduction and Translation by M. Roth and W.
> Suchting, Capital and Class, Spring 1978, pp. 130-150.
> 2) One translation of Chapter I (1867):
> - Chapter One of Capital, first edition version, translated by Alex Davidson,
> Bulletin Marxist Classics Series, No. 1, New York, Labor Publications.
> Marx wrote the Appendix at the beginning of July 1867, after he had finished
> Vol. 1 (March 1867), and while he was correcting the galley-proofs of Vol. 1.
> In the Afterward of the second German Edition of Vol. 1, after informing the
> readers about the changes between the two Editions and added:
> ‘Let me remark, in passing, that that double exposition had been occasioned by
> my friend, Dr. L Kugelmann in Hanover. I was visiting him in the spring of 1867
> when the first proof-sheets arrived from Hamburg, and he convinced me that most
> readers needed a supplementary, more didactic explanation of the form of value’.
> In reality, Engels had also played an important role in Marx’s decision to
> write the ‘Appendix’.
> On June 16, 1867 Engels had read the first 5 proof sheets of Vol.1 and wrote to
> Marx (Marx-Engels-Werke [MEW], Vol. 31, pp. 303 ff.) that his [Marx’s]
> exposition should be more ‘historic’ and also more ‘didactic’, like
> the ‘Hegelian Encyclopedia’. Marx responded to this letter on June 22, 1867,
> (MEW, Vol. 31, p. 306), writing to Engels that ‘I followed and not followed
> your advise to be more dialectic’: ‘1st, I wrote an Appendix, in which I
> present the same thing so simply as it is possible and so didactically as it is
> possible and 2nd, I separated, according to your advice, each part that brings
> forward some progress in the development of argument in paragraphs, etc.’.
> In my co-authored book, we have translated and cited several passages from
> Chapter I (1867 Edition), which were later on omitted or differently expressed
> by Marx in the second edition of Vol. 1, but which we regarded to be very
> elucidative for his argument. Here is one example that I like:
> ‘Within the value relation and the expression of value immanent in it, the
> abstractedly general [i.e. value, J.M.] does not constitute a property of the
> concrete, sensorily actual [i.e. of exchange value, J.M.] but on the contrary
> the sensorily actual is a simple form of appearance or specific form of
> realisation of the abstractedly general (…) Only the sensorily concrete is
> valid as a form of appearance of the abstractedly general’ (MEGA II, 5: 634).
> Ending this long mail I would like to make clear to you Paul, as well as to
> everybody else, that it was not my intention to call you an individualist, but
> only to stress the point that individualism ‘quantifies’ social relations.
> In solidarity,
> John

Feel free to accuse me of individualism. Only an individual can question.

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_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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