Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Tue Oct 18 2005 - 11:57:55 EDT

Mike, thanks very much for your helpful response.  I think we are making
progress in mutual understanding, and perhaps even in substantial
agreement.  We shall see.

On Mon, 17 Oct 2005, michael a. lebowitz 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).

Good, I am glad that we agree on this point.  Thanks for the
clarification.  Sorry I misinterpreted you.

> 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 both agree and disagree.  The transformation is both a logical process
and a process in time - under the abstract assumption that S = D.

In Marx's theory of the production of surplus-value in Volume 1of Capital,
it generally assumed throughout that S = D, except for a few
non-systematic asides.  Marx repeats this assumption many times.  (I would
be happy to provide references).  Therefore, the total surplus-value that
is determined in Volume 1 is an abstract total surplus-value, under the
assumption that S = D.

Furthermore, in the theory of the distribution of surplus-value in Volume
3, Marx continues to assume that S = D.  Again this assumption is repeated
many times.  Indeed, the concept of price of production, the central
concept of Volume 3 assumes equal rates of profit across industries,
which in turn assumes S = D.

The analytical framework for Marx's theory of the production and
distribution of surplus-value is the circulation of capital:
        M - C ...  P ... C' - M'.
In Marx's theory, surplus-value is produced in production and
realized in circulation.  Under the assumption that S = D,
the total amount of surplus-value realized in circulation
is = to the abstract total amount of surplus-value produced,
which is determined in the sphere of production,
prior to its realization in circulation.  So in this theoretical sense,
the abstract total surplus-value is determined prior to
circulation and distribution.

I do not mean that the ACTUAL total surplus-value, with S not = D, exists
prior to circulation.  Rather, I mean that the abstract total
surplus-value that is determined in Marx's theory in Volume 1,
under the assumption of S = D, is determined prior to the third phase of

At the same time, I certainly agree that the transformation is a logical
process.  The total surplus-value is determined logically prior to the
equalization of profit rates and the further division of the total
surplus-value into its individual parts.  I have been talking for years
about "Marx's logical method".  And this logical method includes the
assumption that S = D in Capital, which in turn implies that the abstract
total surplus-value is determined in production prior to its realization
and distribution in circulation.

Marx planned to analyze realization crises and market prices with S not =
D beyond Capital, at a lower level of abstraction.  These are of course
important and crucial phenomena, but they belong to a lower level of
abstraction than Capital.  Capital assumes S = D in order to explain the
production and distribution of surplus-value "in its pure state".

You say that, according to me, "there is a state in time in which
surplus-value exists prior to its distribution."  I would put it
differently:  in Marx's theory of the circulation of capital, under the
assumption of S = D, the abstract total surplus-value is determined prior
to its distribution in circulation.

Mike, how much do we agree or disagree?


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