Re: [OPE-L] "Levels of abstraction"

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2008 - 14:16:29 EST

on 2008-02-01 16:27 Jerry Levy wrote:
> You must not recall my explanations of how surplus value created
> in what you called Dept. III can be used for the purchase of
> additional V and C in Deptartments I and II.

Sorry, I missed to engage in this argument. First a minor note, Dept.
III does not have to finance an expanded workforce out of surplus value.
Dep. III can however accumulate real capital by reinvesting surplus
value in the output of Dept. II.

The crucial point is the asymmetry here: The existence of Dept. I and
Dept. II does not depend on the surplus value spent in Dept.III whereas
it ceases to exist the moment Depts. I and II direct the flow of surplus
value away from it. This mirrors the underlying relation in the material
reproduction of society.

> The key here, I think,
> is the nature of commodity production under capitalism which, in part, necessarily requires the money-form.  Without the generalization of the commodity-form, and hence money, the surplus product which arises in one sector is not "liquid" and can not be readily used to finance production in other sectors. The money (and value and capital-wage labour) relation does not simply or merely disguise social relations, it in some ways transforms them.

I agree that money is a necessary requirement for capitalism. But one
should not confuse how activities are financed with money and how they
are supported by labour. For instance, the surplus product is never
liquid; it is a collection of goods and services produced over a given
period. "Financing it" is a historically specific way to appropriate it.

Indeed, from Kalecki we know that the surplus product is financed by the
total spending of the capitalist class (setting aside workers' savings
here). Are we to conclude from this alone that there is no exploitation
because it finances its own appropriation of the surplus product? No,
not if we look at who produces and appropriates goods and labour. The
money relation does not transform this social relation. It is
historically invariant.

Money records debts between agents but unless material processes uphold
these relations it becomes an impotent information structure with which
no agent can exert power.

//Dave Z

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