Re: [OPE-L] what is irrational in the functioning of capitalism?

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2006 - 12:59:55 EST

thank you very much for this illuminating input. I think the idea can even  
be traced back to Aristotle. However in modern times we should not forget Locke 
 as well. In Two Treatises on Government the chapter on property is very  
important on this. Your reference to Ibn Khaldun is in particular interesting  
because it challenges our traditional Western-Euro-centred approaches. Thank you 
In einer eMail vom 29.11.2006 18:37:44 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

The  German word for "surplus value" (Mehrwert, literally more-value)  means
simply value-added. As Marx discusses in his manuscript "Theories of  Surplus
Value", the political economists struggled theoretically with the  problem of
what the ultimate origin of the new additional value was,  proposing various
solutions based on concepts of productive versus  unproductive labour, earnt
versus unearnt income, and wealth-consuming  versus wealth-creating
activities. The only thing that Marx did that was  new, was to reduce all
surplus-value to surplus-labour, i.e. the substance  of surplus-value was
surplus labour.

In his Phd Thesis, the New  Zealand Marxist Ronald L. Meek traced the
theoretical origin of the concept  of an economic surplus back to Thomas Mun
((1571-1641), but I think Ibn  Khaldun, (1332-1406) already referred to it.
In neoclassical economics, the  issue is resolved with the concept of the
"factors of production", each  adding to the new value, to which Marx
sarcastically referred as the "holy  trinity of political economy".

Friedrich Engels formulated the problem  like this: "Whence comes this
surplus-value? It cannot come either from the  buyer buying the commodities
under their value, or from the seller selling  them above their value. For in
both cases the gains and the losses of each  individual cancel each other, as
each individual is in turn buyer and  seller. Nor can it come from cheating,
for though cheating can enrich one  person at the expense of another, it
cannot increase the total sum  possessed by both, and therefore cannot
augment the sum of the values in  circulation. (...) This problem must be
solved, and it must be solved in a  purely economic way, excluding all
cheating and the intervention of any  force - the problem being: how is it
possible constantly to sell dearer  than one has bought, even on the
hypothesis that equal values are always  exchanged for equal  values?"

Gil  Skillman has made an argument, that this way of framing the problem  does
not really make sense, but I do not know his reasons yet exactly.  These
days, of course, very large gains in monetary value can be created  simply
through manipulating trading relations, which is one reason why Marx  went
out of fashion among many.

The modern sense of "value-added" is  simply the value of gross output from
production less intermediate goods  and services used up, defined either
"gross" (including value of economic  depreciation and various costs
associated with the maintenance of fixed  assets) or net (excluding those
items). This concept is formally based on  the theory of "factors of
production", with the exception of land - only  the value of land
improvements is regarded as adding to new value. Pure  land rents are
normally excluded from the concept of value-added.  "Production" in this case
is generally defined as the activity of  residential institutional units in
transforming inputs into outputs, such  that monetary income is  generated


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