Re: [OPE-L] wages of superientendence

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Nov 10 2006 - 10:02:48 EST

> Suppose we could know the amount of profits that accrue to control
> function (as opposed to coordinating functions). Would not that
> amount enter the numerator of  the general rate of profit? On the other
> hand suppose we knew also the amount of
> variable capital related to coordinating function. That would enter the
> denominator of the the general rate of profit as advanced variable
> capital. It  seems that both amounts do enter into the determination
> of the general profit  rate.

Hi Paolo:

It's not as simple as that, though.   _Even if_ some proportion of
management labor represents variable capital, one can not treat  all
of the management labor which is not  dedicated to the control function
as variable capital.

Unless one believes that labor which is dedicated to the realization of
surplus value should also be counted as productive labor then all of the
management labor associated with realization should be counted as
unproductive.  I.e. even after deducting the labor associated with
control, one would still need to disaggregate labor dedicated to
coordination.  Coordination of what?  The legal department of
corporations needs coordination but the labor of corporate lawyers should
not be counted as productive of surplus value, imo.

> About faux frais. I recal that Marx consider the labor spent in producing
> gold  (as money) as a faux frais.

In Volume II, Ch. 17, Section 2 (Penguin ed., p. 420)

> There are others instances. Do you folks remember
> what they are? What is precisely the definition of faux frais besides
> being  Faux=false and  Frais=expenses?

I take faux frais as meaning either incidental (see Vol. I, p. 446), or
overhead, expenses of production.  A footnote, put in by the translator of
the Penguin ed., says:

"Literally 'false costs'; but *faux frais* is a technical expression
used by the French economists of the early nineteenth century (for example
Garnier and Say) to cover expenses not directly incurred in the course of
production. The idea of *faux frais of production* originated in Adam
Smith's distinction between productive and unproductive labour.
Cf. _Theories of Surplus Value_, Part I, p. 167". (Ibid)

In Ch. 25 of Volume I, there is the suggestion that paupers and orphans
form part of the faux frais of capitalist production (p. 797) but I don't
that this should be taken too literally: there is more than a little bit of
sarcasm in that suggestion.

In Volume II he says that "the buying and selling agent" should be counted
as faux frais.  (Penguin, pp. 209-210).

In the "Results of the Immediate Process of Production", it is suggested
that taxes paid by capitalist firms represents "faux frais de production".
In the preceding para he writes:

"certain types of *unproductive work* may be incidentally connected to
the process of production and their *price* may even enter into the *price
of the commodity*.  In consequence the money laid out for them may form part
of the *capital invested* and the labour they require may appear to be
labour expended not for *revenue* but directly for *capital*" (Vol. I, pp.

Later he writes "Further examples are legal proceedings,
contractual agreements, etc. All matters of this sort are concerned
with stipulations between commodity owners as buyers and sellers
of goods, and have nothing to do with the relations between capital
and labour.  Those engaged on them may become the wage-labourers
of capital; but this does not make productive workers of them." (Ibid)

Some other payments,  I believe -- e.g. for guard services, pay-offs to
corrupt politicians or the mafiosa, corporate donations to political
campaigns and lobbies, etc. -- could also be thought of as representing
faux frais.

In solidarity, Jerry

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