Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2007 - 21:11:20 EST

Quoting Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>:

> Hi Fred,
> Yes, I understand the problem you're attacking is a bit different than the
> target I have in mind and stumble not over the analysis so much as the
> phrase "analytical framework."
> I agree with you that M-C-M' identifies the main question of Bk I.  I would
> put it a bit more pointedly:  this is the phenomenon to be explained.
> Presenting it as such is powerfully important I think.  Now we look for what
> does the explaining, and once we have the explanatory mechanism we can step
> back and appraise the analytical framework.  As I said last summer I expect
> that will have to do with the reproduction of the social relation of
> capital.

Yes, I agree completely.  M-C-M' is the PHENOMENON TO BE EXPLAINED.
I like that formulation.  And this all-important phenomenon is
explained in terms of the initial M, and quantities of SNLT, and the

One of my favorite passages that clearly states this point and in these
terms is from the "Results";

"In what we may call its first, provisional form of money (the point of
departure for the formation of capital), capital exists as yet only as
money, i.e. as a sum of exchange-values embodied in the self-subsistent
form of exchange-value, in its expression as money.  But the task of
this money is to generate value.  The exchange-value must serve to
create still more exchange-value.  The quantity of value must be
increased, i.e. the available value must not only be maintained; it
must yield an increment,  value, a surplus-value, so that the value
given, the particular sum of money, can be viewed as a fluens and the
increment as fluxion...

"Here, where we are concerned with money only as the point of departure
for the immediate process of production, we can confine ourselves to
the observation: capital exists here as yet only as a given quantum of
value = M (money), in which all use-value is extinguished, so that
nothing but the monetary form remains...

"If the original capital is a quantum of value = x, it becomes capital
and fulfills its purpose by changing into x + x, into a quantum of
money or value = the original sum + a balance over the original sum.
In other words, it is transformed into the given amount of money +
additional money, into the given value + surplus-value.  ...

"As a given sum of money, x is a constant from the outset and hence its
increment = 0.  In the course of the process, therefore, it must be
changed into another amount which contains a variable element.  Our
task is to discover this component and at the same time to identify the
mediations by means of which a constant magnitude becomes a variable
one."  (C.I: 976-77; emphasis in the original)

Notice that the initial x is referred to as "a given sum of money" or a
"given amount of money".

> Now you say here that the main question(s) posed in volume 3 goes to the
> division of the surplus into individual parts.  Your post earlier this
> afternoon could be read to say, though perhaps you do not say, that volume 3
> is about prices of production.  Michael Heinrich in his article on capital
> in general can be read, with something of the same qualification, to say
> that volume 3 is about the equalization of the rate of profit.

Leaving aside Volume 2 for now, I would say that all these formulations
about Volume 3 have to do with the distribution of surplus-value, or
the division of the total surplus-value into individual parts.  Prices
of production is the first step in this division - the redistribution
of the total surplus-value across industries such that all industries
receive the same rate of profit.  Part 2 of Volume 3 is about prices of
production and the equalization of the rate of profit, but Volume 3 is
also about the further division of the total surplus-value into
commercial profit (Part 4), interest (Part 5), and rent (Part 6).  Then
it is all summed up in Part 7, which is about the "illusions created by
competition" - the illusions that each of these individual parts of the
total surplus-value seems to have its own independent source.  Whereas
Marx's theory of these individual parts of the total surplus-value in
Volume 3 reveals that all these individual parts come from the same
source - the surplus labor of workers.

I think this is pretty cleary the "phenomena to be explained" in Volume 3.


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