RE: [OPE] devaluation and revaluation of variable capital

Date: Wed Feb 13 2008 - 07:38:00 EST

> I do not see your point. Here the subject is Marx's take on agriculture. 
Hi Michael P:
The _focus_ was on agriculture. The _subject_ was the "devaluation  and
revaluation of the elements of variable capital, i.e. the costs of 
reproduction of labour-power". That subject extends _well_ beyond the
primary focus on agriculture 
(NB: "[working] mean [and women] do not live by bread alone, after all").
> Both John > Bellamy Foster and I have written a number of times on it. In fact at the end of the > month, there will be a seminar at Yale to discuss my latest paper on the subject.> Marx was very influenced by Liebig and agriculture was very important to him. He is > merely saying that capitalist agriculture screws up the environment and screws over > small farmers.
Yes, there are environmental implications of his perspective in this
sub-section. But, a close reading of these pages will show that he was
making other important points as well.  
-- For example, the issue of *disproportionality* comes up in relation to the 
 "It is possible, therefore, and indeed unavoidable, when capitalist production is fully developed, that the production and   increase in the portion of constant capital that consists of fixed capital,   machinery, etc. may run significantly ahead of the portion consisting of organic raw materials, so that the demand for these raw materials grows more rapidly than their supply, and their price therefore rises." (213-214) 
-- the issue of *monopoly*  by producers of raw materials is discussed.
-- the supply of *exports* of raw materials and the *interdependency*
between European demand and the supply of raw materials in the 
*colonies* is discussed.
-- This interdependency leads to *"sudden jerks"* in the supply of 
raw materials which can then cause there to be fluctuations in 
the prices of elements of variable capital.
In addition it is worthwhile asking whether there are _other_ 
examples and implications of what Marx wrote in this section to 
contemporary capitalism.  Thus, I wrote previously:
>  Furthermore, one could and should apply the concept of _moral>  depreciation_ mentioned earlier in the section, to the issue of the>  revaluation of elements of V. For instance, how does technological>  development in terms of new _product_ technologies for commodities>  which become elements of V affect the valuation of existing assets?>  In other words, how is the valuation of commodities which enter into>  the costs of reproduction of labour-power effected by these changes?>  This not only concerns the valuation of new commodities but also the>  valuation and _moral depreciation_ of the _existing_ stock of commodities>  owned by wage-workers.
Consider, for example, the moral depreciation of many consumer goods sold
to working-class families.  Do workers always keep a commodity until its 
use-value has been physically exhhausted or do they often buy "new
and improved" products beforehand?  Think home computers, TVs, autos, 
et al.  If so, then the previously purchased consumer goods are morally 
I think the following is also a significant question with contemporary
>  It would be tempting, furthermore, to look at how the _credit system_>  can lead to a revaluation of the existing stock of "elements of V" as it >  relates to workers' housing prices and speculation.
After all, *working class housing* is also an "element of variable capital"
which can impact the costs of reproduction of labour-power.
What about the cost of *college education*? Isn't that relevant?
After all, most college students (at least in the advanced capitalist 
nations) are members  of the working-class and they often, indeed
generally, finance their education through *credit*.  
In solidarity, Jerry

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