(OPE-L) can the sum of avg. profit + rent be greater than the sum of s?

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 10:05:23 EDT

Hi Jurriaan.

> Marx claims that "the sum of average profit plus rent can in its normal
> form never be greater than the total surplus-value, though it can be
> less" (p. 971) but if we consider credit and so-called "fictitious
> capital"
> (capitalisation on property ownership) it is evident that profit+rent
> (or profit+rent+interest+tax) could exceed surplus-value. That is,
> financial claims to the surplus-product can proliferate which exceed the
> actual value of current (or even future) surplus-product, and have the
> effect of forcing an increase in the rate of surplus-value over time,
> given the need to recoup previous claims made to the surplus-product
> from current output. What Marx called "abnormal" has, I would argue,
> become a widespread practice.

An interesting question for discussion, perhaps -- and one
that I don't recall us discussing.  A question that could be asked
here is whether *credit* and *fictitious capital* (taken togther with
profit + rent) can and do represent a greater magnitude than the sum of
surplus-value _or_ whether credit and fictitious capital represent a
_redivision_ of s among capitalists?

It could also be argued that at least some amount of the credit
payments received by firms represents a reduction in *value* from the
working class and is hence a transfer of value *between classes*
rather than a transfer of surplus-value among capitalists.  Consider
the many billions of dollars that are paid each year in the US alone
by working-class families in credit card finance charges.

The issue you suggest should also be viewed temporally: i.e.
average profit plus rent might be greater than the sum of s
during certain periods of time but in other periods of time the
reverse is the case.  For instance, it might be claimed (even though
I'm not arguing this here.  I'm just raising a possibility for
discussion) that Marx's claim concerns an aggregate *trend*
which is true as a long-run proposition but does not hold
during all phases of the trade cycle when there can be cyclical
variations in profit, credit, etc.

In solidarity, Jerry

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