Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 13:16:45 EDT

Hi Michael L. (and all),

Many thanks for the reply. You wrote:

"2. Fred, Jerry is right: I was not proposing that surplus value and
profit are different magnitudes; on the contrary, as Andrew reminds us,
'essence must appear' , and I have no reason to think that it appears in
a different magnitude (except, of course, for the subdivision of surplus
value). On the other hand, I do not view surplus value as prior in time
(as opposed to logic) to its form(s). Therefore, for me, distribution
(including 'transformation') is a logical rather than a temporal
process. I'm assuming that you
disagree--- that there is a state in time in which surplus value exists
prior to its distribution."

I respond: in my exchange with Rakesh I have been trying to offer an
important (imo) distinction between system-wide and individual
perspectives. I think this distinction helpful not only for debates
regarding value-form theory but also for an aspect of your exchange with
Fred. You say above that you disagree with the view that surplus value
exists in time (rather than logic) prior to its distribution. I agree if
we take a system-wide perspective on surplus value. From this
perspective then we can see that a large proportion of newly produced
commodities must generally sell (realising surplus value) if the system
is to exist at all. But what happens when we take the perspective of any
one single commodity? From this perspective we are justified in
presupposing the existence of the system. Given this presupposition then
it seems to me entirely proper to say the surplus value exists, in an
important sense, once surplus labour has been performed in production,
and prior to 'realisation' of the surplus value on the market (it exists
as C', prior to C'-M'). What needs to be realised by the capitalist is
the actual existence of the power that surplus value confers, viz. an
excess of purchasing power, of money, over the initial money advanced.
This may be a precarious process (it may breakdown thus destroying
surplus value) but it is not a process of surplus value creation rather
is a metamorphosis of an already created surplus value from one form to
another. It takes time.

I admit that the above is tentative. What I have done is apply the same
logic to surplus value and its form of appearance (dM) as I did to value
and its form of appearance (M). I think this must cut some corners and I
would gladly admit that there is 'a sense' in which surplus value is not
achieved until dM is realised, even at the individual level. This is a
complex matter. But it should be clear that it is one thing to note,
from the perspective of the system, that money, and money categories
(profit, interest, etc.) must exist simultaneously to value and surplus
value (essence must appear). This is a fact about the existence of the
system. It is quite another to consider the temporal (and spatial) path
taken by any one particular commodity-value. It is surely helpful to
continually monitor this distinction of perspectives and avoid slipping
from one to the other without properly respecting the difference between
them. I suspect such slippage has sometimes occurred in debates re.
value-form theory.

Many thanks,


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