Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Tue Oct 25 2005 - 20:18:32 EDT

On Wed, 19 Oct 2005, michael a. lebowitz wrote:

> At 11:57 18/10/2005, Fred wrote:
> > 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.
> > 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?
> Fred,
>         I am truly sorry. I don't know, and can't know without the
> time to engage your ideas (which means reading your paper). I've
> apologised to Andy off-line but I'll do this openly now (so I can
> apologise to everyone wanting to follow this exchange of
> interpretations). It will just have to wait for another time. I'm, of
> course, very curious to know the answer myself and knowing if surplus
> value exists for you on the surface would help. Similarly, if price
> of production is a category of the inner or the outer.
>         Again, my apologies for what seems from my end to be a case
> of entering into a relationship but being unwilling to make a commitment.
>                 un abrazo revolucionario,

Mike, thanks a lot.  No problem of course.

I will return to your question after I return home next week.  It is a
good question.  Marx obviously emphasized the distinction between the
"inner nature of capital" and the "outer forms of appearance" of capital,
so it is important to understand what Marx meant by this distinction, and
how this distinction is related to the levels of abstraction of capital in
general and competition.  But that is a long discussion, and I have no
time to do that now.  But I will when I return.

A very quick answer to your question about surplus-value:  As I discussed
in a recent post, surplus-value and profit are the SAME MAGNITUDE, looked
at (or understood) in two different ways.  In Chapter 1 of Volume 3, in
which Marx iintroduces the concept of profit for the first time, the
magnitude of surplus-value and profit is illustrated by $100 (S sign
substituted for the pound sign).  Therefore, since surplus-value and
profit are the same magnitude, one of them cannot be "invisible" and the
other "visible" - at least not in the empirical sense of "observable".
Either they are both observable or they are both unobservable.

For an individual capital, its surplus-value or profit is not
observable, because all this is observable for individual capitals is the
average profit which it collects as a result of the equalization of profit
rates across industries, and average profit is in general not equal to the
surplus-value or profit produced by that individual capital.

On the other hand, for the total social capital, its total surplus-value
or total profit (the same magnitude) is observable, as the aggregate dM
in the economy as a whole.  This total surplus-value or profit or dM is
theoretically determined at the level of abstraction of capital in
general in Volume 1 of Capital, and then the distribution of this total
surplus-value or profit is analyzed at the level of abstraction of
competition in Volume 3.

The total surplus-value is "invisible" in the sense that, even though it
is empirically observable, its origin in surplus labor is not generally
understood..  The total profit, paradoxically, is "visible on the surface"
in the sense that this is the way capitalists view profit, even though its
origin is misunderstood to be the total capital, rather than the variable
capital only and surplus labor.

I hope this helps for starters.  I would be interested in your initial
reactions, if time permits.

Hasta luego.


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