[OPE-L:3536] Re: Simultaneous Determination and Value Added

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 09:28:45 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Steve Keen's ope-l 3535.

The word "such" does not appear in the Fowkes translation. It might be
helpful if someone on the list who is fluent in German could give his/her own
translation. But in any case it doesn't seem to me that the word matters.

Let me quote from the top of the same paragraph of the Moore/Aveling
translation, which Steve is using (Capital I, Progress 1977, p. 199):

"We have seen that the means of production transfer value to the new product,
so far only as during the labour-process they lose value in the shape of their
old use-value. The maximum loss of value that they can suffer in the process,
is plainly limited by the amount of the original value with which they came
into the process, or in other words, by the labour-time necessary for their
production. Therefore, the means of production can never add more value to
the product than they themselves possess independently of the process in which
they assist."

The middle sentence, BTW, shows that the Morishima-type notion of "labor-time
necessary for production," i.e., vertically integrated labor coefficients, was
clearly not Marx's. He identifies the labor-time necessary for the production
of the means of production with the "original value with which they came into
the [labor] process," not their value at the time when the product of the
process in which they enter as means is finished (or sold). This is a quite
striking indication of the temporality of Marx's value theory.

In any case, assume some means of production that had a zero value when it
"came into the process," but that the same type of item has a positive value
later, when the product of that process is finished (or sold). The
replacement cost interpretation of the constant capital component of value
would hold that the means of production "transfer" a positive value to the
product. Yet Marx's 2nd sentence indicates, IMO, that the maximum amount of
value they can lose is zero, since "the original value with which they came
into the process" was zero, so that they transfer a value *greater* than the
amount of value they lose, contradicting the 1st sentence.

I also do not understand Steve's point about Marx's supposedly inconsistent
treatment of machines and living labor, even though I have also read Steve's
articles on this matter. He quotes a passage in which Marx is referring to
the *valorization process*, the process of producing surplus-value, and
contrasts it with the above passage, in which Marx is referring to the *labor
process*, the process of producing use-values. Then he (Steve) concludes:
"So the fact that labor serves as a 'mere usevalue' in production doesn't stop
the worker being a source of surplusvalue. But it does, somehow, stop the
machine from so doing."

If this is an allegation of internal inconsistency, then I don't think it
holds water. Marx's key point in Ch. 8 is that new value is added by
*abstract* labor, through the valorization process, while existing values of
means of production are preserved and transferred by the activity of
*concrete* labor, in the physical labor process. "By the simple addition of a
certain *quantity* of labour, new value is *added*, and by the *quality* of
this added labour, the original values of the means of production are
*preserved* in the product" (p. 195, Progress, my emphases). Hence, the labor
that is a mere use-value in the labor process does NOT add either value or
surplus-value to the product, any more than the machines and materials that
are mere use-values in that (labor) process. The labor that creates value and
surplus-value is abstract labor, and it does so in the valorization process.

Of course, one can disagree with Marx's understanding of the dual character of
the production process. His dialectical reasoning in Ch. 8 in particular is
exceedingly difficult. But that is a different matter, not one of *internal*

Andrew Kliman