[OPE-L] Theoretical/empirical error in Marx in converting surplus value into additional capital?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Fri Jul 27 2007 - 09:30:07 EDT


No one on the list knows anything about this:

Marx IGNORES the requirement to purchase new fixed constant capital, aka 
machinery, when converting surplus value into additional capital (Vol. 1, 
Chp. 24) and when his organic composition C/v is as high as 38 (Vol. 1, 
Chp. 9 and Vol. 3, Chp. 4)?  That is, close to 1950 would be needed for 
machinery of a 2000 surplus value!

Spinning factory data represent a significant part of Marx's empirical 
background for theoretical work: Consider that in Vol. 1 it is the only 
empirical background for discussing the relation of constant and variable 
capital and for calculating the rate of surplus value (he mentions wheat, 
also, regarding s/v) .  Consider also Vol. 2, Chps. 1, 2 and 3.  Consider 
the implications for schemes of reproduction.

This is not a minor problem (unless I have misunderstood something).  In 
fact, given the high C/v level of 38, the theoretical/empirical error seems 
pretty outrageous.  Marx doesn't actually calculate the 38 from his own 
data; but Engels does after Marx's death.  (Modern calculations much less 
than 38 are not relevant to this problem in Marx himself.)

If I am not mistaken (I'd be more comfortable if I am), this is the most 
significant problem I have ever found in Marx.  P.Z.

------------ Forwarded Message ------------
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 7:35 AM -0400
From: Paul Zarembka <zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU>
To: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU
Subject: [OPE-L] A puzzle about Marx on accumulating capital in spinning 
cotton

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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