Re: is value labour?

From: rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU
Date: Fri May 09 2003 - 03:19:22 EDT

I think I understand now - many thanks. The difference, I believe, is
that I would emphasise more the social and historical structures
of production, and would pay relatively little attention to the
measurement of labour-time in order to understand the price
system. This is not at all to say that the latter is of little relevance;
but we have to select a point of departure, and of course it will
leave an imprint in the character of the analysis and its


I think my post accords with Alfredo's point.

Ricardo neglects the historical specifity of farmers' profit as a novel
form of (redistributed) surplus value, of capitalist ground rent as a
form of only extra surplus value, and (less so) of the wage fund as
a form of capital (that is, a sum of money advanced for the
purposes of profit-making; the wage fund could otherwise be
entirely self produced as it largely was even for those proto
proletarians  servants in husbandry, or the wage fund could come
out of revenue as it may have in the proto manufacturing of say
Mughal India). Rent, profit and the wage all have specific concrete
contents which make them specific to bourgeois production. The
categories however can then be hypostatized,  and economically
quite different phenomena can be described in the same formal
terms (Jones resists the collapse of all landed income into rent as
such; wages aren't the same if they are spent out of revenue rather
than with an eye towards profit).

Because Ricardo does not specify the historically specific
bourgeois forms of value, he fails to grasp the quantitative
movements in rent (Richard Jones showed this), the rate of profit
(Ricardo can only resort to organic chemistry) and wages. The rate
of profit can fall without the relative rise of rents and monetary
wages in the course of accumulation as a result of a resort to ever
worse agricultural fields. Why can't Ricado understand this? It
seems to me that Marx's answer is that Ricardo has not theorized
how rent is a form of extra surplus value and in what way capitalist
profit is a novel and determinate form of value; after all, Ricardo
failed to reconcile the law of value with the average rate of profit.    It
seems to me that Marx is attempting to show that the quantitative
errors follow from prior qualitative failure, that is, the failure to
grasp capitalism in terms of the content of its peculiar forms of
value--profit, rent and wages.

That same failure leads to Ricardo's inability to theorize money as
the only immediately social form of value and to relate the
monetary basis of capitalist civilization to the possibility of a
general crisis.

Yours, Rakesh

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