Re: [OPE-L] accumulation of capital and the working class - actual non existence of variable capital

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Jan 09 2008 - 18:15:32 EST

No V does not figure, or 'reckon'.

The concept of variable capital is a polemical act of charity by Marx to the 
bourgeois political economists, rather than something that really exists.

Marx wants to prove exploitation even on the grounds most logically  favourable to the political economists, so he makes a number of concessions to them:

1. That all commodities exchange at their values with no cheating or overselling
2. That workers are not cheated but are paid the full value of their labour
3. Finally, that workers are paid in advance.

These are all to greater or lesser extent counter factual, but allow him to show that even on the grounds most favourable to the political economists he can demonstrate exploitation.

In fact we know wages are never paid in advance, it is actually the workers who advance labour to the capitalists rather than the capitalists who advance money to the workers as in the myth propagated by the political economists. Thus, in fact the stock of 'variable capital' is always negative - the capitalists always owe the workers for work already done.

Capital accumulation relates to a growth in the stock of value serving as capital, this stock, in a modern economy exists solely in the form of means of production, plant,
equipment, stocks of raw material, stocks of data, and partially worked up products.

There is no net money capital, and negative net variable capital.

If one employs flow accounting rather than stock accounting, there is a flow
of wages, there is a flow of means of production etc, and in this accounting 
framework it is useful to label the flow of wages as v and the flow of means of
production as c, but these
distinctions are not applicable to analyzing what has been accumulated, since
what has been accumulated is a stock.

For analysing accumulation there are two key variables

1. The portion of the surplus value flow that is not consumed, the dimension of
   this is person years/year or persons ( ie, the figure tells us how many workers
   are engaged in producing additional means of production ). Let us denote this by

2. The stock of capital (whose dimension is person years), and represents the total
   materialised dead labour under the control of the capitalist class. I usually
   denote this by K.

We have the basic equation that 

  K = \int a dt

The capital stock is the time integral of the accumulation, by the calculus of Newton and Leibniz this is dimensionally coherent.

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 3125

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of GERALD LEVY
Sent: Wed 09/01/2008 10:00 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] accumulation of capital and the working class

> In my opinion the only way to make sense of the concept of capital accumulation is in terms of the growth in the value of the stock of 
>  means of production used as capital.
Hi Paul C:
Doesn't V figure at all in the accumulation of capital?  
Your formulation above seems to suggest that the total 
capital is represented by the value of the means of
production rather than C + V.  If I understand Paul Z
correctly, that puts your conception of 'capital accumulation'
diametrically opposed to his.  
In solidarity, Jerry 

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