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

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Tue Oct 11 2005 - 16:47:14 EDT

Hi Allin,

Your point (and perhaps Paul's?) does not coincide with the point I was
emphasyzing. You are changing the focus and talking about "increases in
surplus value", but I was and am talking about "production of surplus
value", irrespectively of if it is growing or decreasing. We were not
talking about increases in relative surplus value; in fact my examples
supposed a constant rate of surplus value. Of course increases in
productivity of labour in deps. I and II are needed to increase relative
surpllus value. But anyway the mass of surplus value can increase due to an
increase in the mass of workers working in all factories, either if they are
working in Deps. I and II, or in dept. III (absolute surplus value). This is
the point: when it is allowed for a migration of workers from unproductive
sectors (as home and Public Administrations) to sectors producing surplus
value (as firms in deps. I , II and III), new surplus value are obtained
because they are now more workers that produce surplus value. The
capitalists of the car sector (or any other) have a large fringe to invest
their profits in whatever they want: VWs or Masseratis. They (all
capitalists from all sectors together) can keep a big contingent sector and
if this does not grow excessively (much more than the rest of the economy)
there is no problema for accumulation. In Marx's words, there may be no
check for it.

If an economy maintains a (more or less) constant proportion of sector III
in total production --it doesn't matter if this proprtion is 5%, 10% or
15%--, the economy can grow indefinitely. I agree that relative surplus
value will increase due to improvements in productivity in deps. I and II,
but if a constant share of the economy is experiencing such an increasing
productivity in I and II, then III as well can keep increasing its total
production of value and surplus value due to the increase of absolute
surplus value.

Don't you agree? Therefore, please tell us whether or not the continual
absolute increase in dept. III may mean the opening of new areas for
producing surplus value and for accumulation of capital, as I contended. In
my opinion your view is biased by the fact that you are always looking at
real situations from the point of view of just hypothetical situations where
the rate of growth is maximum. In the latter case of course luxury
consumption means less growth, but this does not affect the point I was


----- Original Message -----
From: "Allin Cottrell" <cottrell@WFU.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] cockshott, Fw: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics and
financial services

> On Tue, 11 Oct 2005, Diego Guerrero wrote:
>> Cars: according to [Paul], labour is productive only if they are
>> cheap, but unproductive if the cars are expensive (luxuries).
> Consider an increase in the physical productivity of labour in a car
> factory.  How, if at all, does this lead to an increase in aggregate
> surplus value?  The classic answer (which seems to me right) is that
> the increase in surplus value comes about via a reduction in the
> necessary labour time -- the labour-time required for the
> reproduction of labour-power.
> That is plausible if the increase in productivity occurs in a
> factory producing VWs, Fords, or what have you.  It does not apply
> if the productivity improvement is confined to factories producing
> Lamborghinis or Aston Martins, since these commodities do not enter
> into workers' consumption, directly or indirectly.  In that case,
> the extra productivity just means that the rich get to consume a bit
> more.  There may be some second-order effect if demand is inelastic
> and workers are displaced from luxury car production into Depts I or
> II, though it's not clear why that should happen.
> Paul is not just saying that, e.g., luxury cars are a "contingent"
> commodity, something that would not be produced under socialism.
> He's making a point (following Ricardo) about the role of the
> production of such commodities in the dynamics of capitalism, namely
> that improvements in productivity for such commodities have no
> first-order effect on wages or profits, but only on the real income
> of capitalists.
> Allin Cottrell

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