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. Phil: 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 be. 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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