[OPE-L] "Levels of abstraction"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Jan 26 2008 - 08:26:19 EST


Thanks for the comment. I think it is important not to personalise things in a bad way. I did not refer to "Fred's fallacy". I referred to a "lump of surplus value fallacy" and to the "Moseley paradox"

The lump of surplus value fallacy is, that productive workers create a fixed lump of surplus value shared out between capitalists and unproductive workers. It is a fallacy because no such fixed lump exists. It does not exist because surplus value can be lodged either in commodities or in money, and because services exist in which their production and final consumption coincide.

What I call the Moseley paradox is that the cost of unproductive labour is simultaneously regarded as part of surplus value, and as not part of surplus value (it is both an addition and a subtraction). Insofar is it is regarded as part of surplus value, each increase in unproductive labour costs must raise the rate of surplus value (S/V) and the rate of profit (S/(C+V)), rather than lower it (the latter which is what Fred claims). 

This paradox is solved by Fred Moseley (and Paul Cockshott) only by saying total surplus value does not equal total profits (because total unproductive labour costs are deducted from total surplus value to obtain total profit), but in that case, Marx's two identities (total surplus value = total profits, total prices = total values) cannot hold even in theory, such that deviations of prices from values would fully cancel each other out in aggregate.

The Moseley paradox arises when total new value created is thought to be empirically identical to total net value added in social accounts. If unproductive labour costs do not constitute a variable capital outlay, then in that case they must necessarily be a component of surplus value, because empirical surplus value is derived by subtracting the variable capital outlay from total net value added. 

An alternative solution would be to exclude unproductive labour costs from the calculation of net value added, on the ground that they do not in fact add net new value. Yet these costs are part of the total value of gross output. 

In that case, there remain only three options: either (1) to include unproductive labour costs in the value of net output as a constant capital outlay, analogous to economic depreciation of productive fixed assets, or (2) to include unproductive labour costs as a component of gross output in intermediate expenditure, or (3) to reject the official definition of gross and net output altogether. 

If option (3) is adopted, then the question arises, how then we would validly estimate the value of gross and net output, and how we would obtain empirical measures of the total variable capital outlay, the total constant capital outlay, and total surplus value. If no empirical measures can be obtained, Marx's theory is in principle not testable, and therefore does not qualify as a scientific theory.


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