Re: (OPE-L) Re: s/v & c/v: macroeconomic categories only?

From: Cyrus Bina (binac@MRS.UMN.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 31 2004 - 19:16:28 EST

Dear Rakesh,

The framework that you have introduced is an interesting one.
Unfortunately, I will be busy for the entire week as I am proof reading a
large manuscript and involved in two separate talk programs.  I will send my
comments by next week or so.  And, by the way, (while I am waiting for my
ride to the airport), let me offer a few words as to why I think that the
Rate of Surplus Value must be considered as a macroeconomic category:

  In capitalist mode of production proper (CMP), given the frequent
transfering of value among the existing sectors of the economy (i.e.,
formation of prices of production in conjunction with uniform rates of
profit), one would not know in advance how much value (and thus surplus
value) will be transferred from one sector to another, and which sector(s)
will be exactly the receivers and which sector(s) the producers of such
values.  Moreover, the notion of 'average' sector is an ideal one.  We do
know, however, that those sectors with the larger (than 'average') 'capital'
advanced are in the receiving end of such 'value transfers'.  Thus, both
theoretically and empirically, speaking of the rate of surplus value at the
levels of the firm and industry does not make any sense.  The question,
therefore, is not whether the 'relationship' [i.e., statistically] between
value and prices is 'weak' or 'strong,' but whether it is conceptually
relevant.  Therefore, I repeat my earlier point that the Rate of Surplus
Value, as a category, is relevant to the realm of macroeconomy alone.

    Now, a footnote on differential oil rents:  given the intervention of
'landed property,' a portion of surplus value in the global oil industry is
regularly appropriated by the rentier (state and private).  This portion,
therefore, is already excluded from the formation of uniform rate of profit
and thus, theoretically as well as empirically, can be exclusively dealt
with under the rubric of rent.  Again, refering to our limited discussions
so far, if the intention is to engage in a productive exchange on the nature
of oil rents and the meaning of globalization, one needs to sharpen one's
focus on the relevant issues that bear on the subject directly.  I shall be
in touch to comment on your recent posting.  I have to run now.

Regards and more,


----- Original Message -----
From: "Rakesh Bhandari" <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU>
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: (OPE-L) Re: s/v & c/v: macroeconomic categories only?

> Dear Cyrus,
> In a previous exchange on treatment of gold in neo Ricardian theory,
> we discussed Michele Naples' emphasis on that class of commodities in
> which a kind of inherently scarce land is a means of production. With
> the production of high quality, "reasonably priced" oil, isn't a
> inherently scarce kind of land a means of production? And isn't oil a
> special commodity for this reason? (In saying that inherently scarce
> land is a means of production for oil, I am not saying that oil is
> sold at a monopoly price).  In order to produce this high quality and
> cheap oil and capture the profits (if not some of the rent)
> therefrom, mustn't the capitalist--say, an oil services company--have
> access to that land? Why would a capitalist rely on his ability to
> gain that access through competitive bidding if his government can
> secure it for him by providing 'security' to the landlord state (or
> in the case of KSA creating the state) that controls access to the
> inherently scarce means of production? Doesn't the US fear that other
> big consumers  of Middle East and Central Asian oil and gas  may
> demand ever more participation in extraction, refining and
> transportation and thus push US companies out of their presently
> favored position with state oil companies in the Gulf? While (as you
> have shown) a struggle to control the differential rent yielded by
> low cost oil cannot explain the costly US military thrust in the
> Middle East, perhaps the attempt to secure rent and the profits from
> oil production/refining/transportation can?
> If the above suffers from an an egregious lapse of logic (or two),
> please don't hesistate to point that out!
> As Lewontin says about the wind chill factor, it proves that
> organisms don't simply adapt to but create their own
> environments--boldly thrown into relief as the arctic wind dissipates
> the environment that we ususally create for ourselves!
> Yours,
> Rakesh

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