MATTICK@adlibv.adelphi.edu (MATTICK@adlibv.adelphi.edu)
Wed, 7 Feb 1996 08:23:41 -0800

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Dear Gang,
I'm slowly catching up to the flood of posts, and wish to react to
914. As usual, I agree generally with Alan's thoughts. I was set
thinking by his "heresy." It seems to me that the thought of surplus
value in the wage fund is premature. Variable capital is defined
first of all in terms of the total wage fund--since the object of
Capital is the system as a whole and the topic of vols. I-III is
capital in general. How the total variable capital is distributed
among individual groups of workers is a question not dealt with ,
other than occasionally, in Capital--presumably this would have been
a central topic for the book on wage labor. So the high wages of
"symbolic analysts" and other skilled workers can be considered a
question of inter-class distribution. As surplus value is that part
of the value product not received by the working class, Alan's
suggestion seems to me to make more theoretical trouble than it is
That said, let me endorse the description of Capital Vol. I as not
assuming the equivalence of value and price, except in the context of
special arguments. Not only does Marx announce early on in the text
that the two need not be equivalent, and in fact shouldn't be, the
level of abstraction of the argument here would make it a pointless
assumption. Marx's individual capitals in this volume, while they
take the literary form of particular firms, are "aliquot parts" of
total capital; Marx is here theorizing what all firms have in common,
their features *as capitals*. Only in vol. III do internal
differences between capitals and kinds of capital come into play.
So I would say that Marx is abstracting from the relation between
price and value. In Vol. III it is shown that value is defined only
for the case where value and price systematically differ (thus it is
only in Vol. III that the theory of value is completed).
Best, Paul