[OPE-L] A puzzle about Marx on accumulating capital in spinning cotton

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Wed Jul 25 2007 - 07:35:21 EDT

At the end of sect. 1 of his chapter on the rate of surplus value, Chp. 9,
Vol. 1, Marx gives a real world example for spinning and Engels followed
upon on it at the end of Chp. 4 in Vol. 3, coming up with a composition of
capital of 38!

The puzzle is that when Marx writes the later chp. of Vol. 1 on the
conversion of surplus value into capital, using the spinning example as a
reference, he forgets the need to purchase new equipment, and he seems to
only include the wear and tear.  That is, how is it possible to convert,
in this example, a 2000 pound level of surplus value for the year into
1600 pound constant capital and 400 pound variable capital (p. 543),
given that a 400 pound expenditure for new variable capital requires the
purchase of new machinery needed to employ those workers totalling 15,320
pounds (following Engels' calculation for the composition of capital)?
Surplus value totals only 2000 pounds for the year.

If this puzzle has been pointed out by anyone before, I don't know where.
Any takers?  By the way, I have confirmed the accuracy of Marx's wage and
implicit employment data in Chp. 4 but not the cost for the spindle
factory which I'm still investigating.

Paul Z.

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