Re: [OPE-L] Proposition #5

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Mar 13 2007 - 10:33:45 EDT

Hi Ajit:

I only have time today for some brief interventions so
#6 (on labor) will have to be put off (maybe tomorrow).

> > Since capitalists own and control the means of
> > production and are legally entitled to the commodity
> > product,  let's define the
> > "wealth of the capitalists" as the monetary worth of
> >  the total product  minus the monetary worth of
> > necessary consumption (2).
> So, I see! By wealth, you mean income. Generally, in
> economics wealth is differentiated from income. Wealth
> is a stock concept and income is a flow concept. The
> capitalist could have inherited thousands of acres of
> land and other kinds of wealth from his/her feudal
> ancestors.

Re last sentence: true, but this was excluded by assumption.

All that needs be said in terms of the theory at this point
is that capitalists own and control the means of production
including land.

Whether or not capitalists use all this wealth productively
for the purpose of  receiving  the same or more monies is
another question.

>  But there is no problem as long as we are
> clear about what you are talking about. The money
> value of the surplus product is the income of the
> capitalist by definition.

Part of it represents income; part of it is used to
purchase labor power and means of production for
the next period of production.  In any event,  these monies
belong to capitalists and it is therefore the decision of
capitalists about how those monies should be spent.

> > You're basically correct: what we have is that
> > commodities  were produced by lots of wage-workers
> > who utilized means of production.
> Be careful in your formulations. Wage workers do not
> utilize means of production. It is the capitalist who
> utilizes the labor of the wage workers and the means
> of production together. The wage-workers have no
> control over the production process.

Workers utilize means of production on the job even
though they do not control them.  You are of course
correct that they don't decide on how they should be
used and that they are required as a condition of
employment to use means of production in a manner
specified by capitalists, but nonetheless workers
_do_ use means of production in the production process.
That's not an illusion or a slippery formulation, it's a simple

> Their labor is
> utilized in the same manner as coal in the production
> process. This is the foundation of the notion of
> alienated labor.

It is true here because of the constant circulating capital
assumption (machines can exist in this model but they are
assumed to be used up entirely in a production period.)
When we consider machinery and modern industry I don't
think it's accurate to say that capitalists utilize means of
production in the same way as they utilize coal. For instance,
certain kinds of means of production can be designed in such
a way that they can assist the capitalist in controlling the labor
process.  The same can not be said for coal.  But, this is an
unnecessary complication at this point.

> Also keep in mind that when you take wages given in
> terms of money, you cannot necessarily ensure that
> prices will always be such that workers are able to
> consume at their customary level.

Yes, that's true.

> In
> any case, you could assume that machines are used up
> in one production cycle.

Yes, that's what I was implicitly assuming.

In solidarity, Jerry

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