Re: [OPE-L] Marx's Form of Analysis

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 19:51:36 EST

>  There is however another potentiality/actuality
> dimension, that between labour-power and labour.  Here the actuality is an
> actuality of activity, labour being the activity or expenditure of
> labour-power.


The dichotomy between potential and actual exists during
all moments of the production and circulation processes
under capitalism.

Consider -- for the sake of simplification -- what happens
before, during, and after a 'period'.

Before time period t,  labour _and_ labour-power
exist only as potential.  Prior to the wage contract,
it can not be known what amount of potential wage-
labourers will actually get jobs working for capital.
There is also obviously a gap between potential wages
and benefits and actual wages and benefits!

After the wage contract has been agreed to, there is still
only potential unless and until work is extracted by capital
from wage-workers in the process of production during
time period t.  Even where and when work is actually
extracted, capital does not know whether the actual
extraction of work from workers will equal the potential
(or even average or customary) work extracted, e.g. the actual
intensity of labour may be and often is quite different from
the potential intensity of labour.

During time period t,  also, the potential access to means
of production may be different from the actual access,
e.g. there may be an unanticipated shortage of raw materials
required for production.  The potential constant fixed
capital may be also different from the actual constant
fixed capital, e.g. due to price changes in machinery or
restrictions on the diffusion and mobility of machinery
caused by property rights.

In the continuation of the production process after
production where the commodity product is transported
to the market, there can -- for various (natural or social)
reasons -- be a gap between the actual output brought to
market in saleable condition  and the potential commodity
product brought to market.

There is then no guarantee that all of the actual output
will be sold or what the actual prices will be.  It is only
after the commodity output is sold and values are
actualized that surplus-value can be converted into
capital. The actual amount of surplus value reinvested
as c and v in t + 1 will generally be different from the
potential amount of surplus value that could have been
invested because of  the unproductive consumption of
surplus value by the capitalist class.  What the rate of
productive and unproductive consumption of surplus
value will be will not be known until it actually happens.
Prior to t + 1,  even after capitalists have a sum of
money-capital ready for purchasing c and v they don't
know what actual wages will be until after the wage
contract is renewed and they don't know what the
actual price and quality of means of production will

Both classes recognize the difference between potential and
actual and this often forms the basis of both 'offensive'
and 'defensive' struggles by the working class.  E.g. the
struggle by workers for a short workweek is, in part (but
only generally, partly) a struggle based on a desire to
fulfill more of their potential as human beings. The struggle
by others in capitalist society is also based on their
recognition as groups and individuals of the discrepancy
between their potential and their actual conditions.  Social
movements, e.g. the environmental movement, also
recognizes this duality.  Indeed, without the recognition
that there is a difference between the potential and the
actual, then we would all give up hope and there would
be no struggles against capital and the state.  But, isn't
it in our nature as human beings -- even under the worst
conditions -- to hope for better, to see the potential for
a better life?

Etc. Etc. Etc.  At every temporal and spatial step there
is the possibility and/or the reality of divergences between
the actual and the potential.  Risk and uncertainty are
inherent in all moments of the production and circulation
processes and in the reproduction of capital.  The dichotomy
between potential and actual is inherent in the money-form,
the commodity-form, the capital-form and all other forms
associated with capitalism.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS to Paul B:  how is what Engels wrote as an afterward
to Volume 3 relevant to our understanding of value or
Marx's understanding of value?

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