Re: [OPE-L] cockshott, Fw: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics and financial services

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Oct 07 2005 - 08:12:39 EDT

Diego Guerrero wrote:

> No. I disagrre with "2 person years worth of expenditure on servants
> wages will allow him to employ 4 servants". It is supposed that the wage
> of a servant is the same as the wage of a factory worker. The difference
> is that the former do not create surplus value at home.

Paul C replies

I too was assuming that the wage of servants and factory workers was
the same and each was paid 1/2 person year for doing a person year
of work. That implies that an expenditure of 2 person years on servants
will employ 4 servants. This wage of 1/2 person year per year was
implied in your original example.

>  > 2. The second problem is that you have still done the calculation
>  >    at the level of an individual capitalist not in terms of entire
>  >    sectors as is done in volume II.
>  >    Once you do this you have to ask 'who purchases the luxuries?'.
>  >    If you construct an example you will find that the total number
>  >    of person years appropriated by the capitalist class has not changed
>  >    if the servants go to work in dept III.
> I don't think this is a problem. My single capitalist can be divided
> into as many as you want. Money for buying the new luxuries come from
> surplus value created by all factory workers who were former servants.

Paul C
Let us follow your suggestion and subdivide your capitalist. Your capitalist
now becomes a collective capitalist. Where does the money to purchase the
surplus value come from?
They capitalists can sell to each other, but collectively this sector of
capitalists have no net extra income. The internal expenditure within
the sector has gone up true. The labour time of their personal
servants formerly was consumed without being expressed in any accounts.
It is now expressed in money, but:

1. The total number of hours labour appropriated has not changed.
2. There is no more accumulation than before, since all the new
    profit is immediately spent on luxuries, so collectively the
    capitalist class has not improved its ability to accumulate
    by employing its servants to make luxury commodities.

>  Is not money what can be accumulated, and money can come from
> anywhere? Which do you prefer: Smith's view or Marx's?

No, this is at the heart of our difference. Money is only
be accumulated under pre-capitalist modes of production
like early feudalism.

Only in such societies does money take the form mainly
of silver or gold. In 18th century Scotland when
Smith was writing, money was predominantly in the
form of credit as banknotes. This has been true
of every working capitalist economy. Either banknotes
or bills of exchange or chequing accounts are
what money is.

In capitalist economies money is predominantly credit
not gold. Credit money can not be accumulated because
the sum of mutual debits and credits is always zero.

What appears as an accumulation of money by one agent in
the economy is exactly balanced by the accumulation of
debt by another party. It is a zero sum game.
If one capitalist is building up their credit balance
in the bank, another is running up debts to balance
that credit. As a whole the capitalist class can not
accumulate money.

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