[OPE-L:3520] Re: Productive and Unproductive Labour

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 12:35:13 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Bruce's ope-l 3518.

I thank Bruce for calling attention to an error in my ope-l 3509.

We agree that capital is advanced for all _faux frais_ (FF), which in Marx's
theory are thus part of the denominator of the profit rate.

I wrote, in addition, that, in Marx's theory, the value of FF is transferred
to the value of the product, implying that this pertains to *all* FF. Bruce
calls attention to a passage in Vol. II of _Capital_ (Bruce cites pp. 224-25;
it is on pp. 225-26 of the Penguin/Vintage edition), which he interprets as
indicating that Marx held that the value of *none* of the FF is transferred.
Thus, no FF enter into the value of commodities. All are, instead, deductions
from surplus-value.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

As Marx writes on p. 214 (Vintage), "Those circulation costs that proceed from
the mere change in form of value, from circulation in its ideal sense, do not
enter into the value of commodities." This refers to the "pure circulation
costs" that he had examined in the first section of the chapter (Ch. 6) ---
costs of buying and selling, of bookkeeping, and of supplying money.

But the sentence I quoted is the 1st sentence of the 2nd section, on costs of
storage, and on the same page he writes, "The circulation costs that we shall
deal with now are different in nature. ... [they] form an addition to the
selling price of his [the capitalist's] commodities." He also indicates on
the same page that storage costs are FF.

The passage Bruce quoted begins section 3 of the same chapter, on transport
costs. In the paragraphs that follow, Marx argues that transport costs do
*not* "proceed from the mere change in form of value." Physical things are
being moved, not just property titles. Hence, he argues that "The productive
capital invested in this industry thus adds value to the products transported,
partly through the value carried over from the means of transport, partly
through the value added by the work of transport." It seems safe to
conclude, then, that Marx didn't consider these particular costs of
circulation to be FF.

The general conclusion I draw from all this is that Marx held that "pure
circulation costs," though they are FF, do not enter into the value of
commodities, but that all other FF, including costs of supervision, do enter
into the value of commodites. If they enter into the value of commodities,
these costs are part of C; if they do not, they are deductions from S. Hence
all FF *except* pure circulation costs are part of C.

Andrew Kliman