[OPE-L:3889] Re: Surplus-Value vs. Surplus Product

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 04:34:49 -0800 (PST)

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John wrote in [OPE-L:3888]:

> >Declining and/or zero surplus value I can understand. What, though, is the
> >meaning of "negative surplus value"? Would this mean that labor is
> >exploiting capital???!!!
> Can a capitalist economy show overall negative profits? It can and, at times,
> it has. At such times, the extent to which workers are exploited as
> measured by the rate of exploitation is hardly an issue. If these negative
> profits are peculiar to a sector or industry, we need only recall that
> workers are exploited as a class.

The question is not whether a capitalist economy or individual firms can
at times experience negative profits. *Of course*, this is possible. The
question I posed above, following-up on Andrew K's comments, is: what is
the meaning of "negative surplus value"? As this term is at the heart of
the current discussion (from Andrew's perspective), it needs to be defined
and understood for us to proceed.

> > Quoting Andrew, Jerry continues:
> > >> In the next sentence, therefore, when Marx writes that "It can
> >> represent a DEDUCTION FROM VALUE," the final three words indicate that the
> >> positive "surplus product" can represent a negative surplus-value.
> Jerry comments:
> >A deduction from value does not mean that there can be negative surplus
> >value.
> Here, Andrew pointed to a possibility and asserting that it can not be
> advances the discussion not one bit. If there is a deduction from
> value, it is clearly possible that that deduction may be so large that
> capitalists experience a loss
> despite the increase in surplus product.

I agree with your (John's) last sentence. What is needed to advance the
discussion is, again, for Andrew to define negative surplus value. After
he does that, we can have a critical discussion on that concept and its

> By all means, let's put money into the models. But I do think Andrew's
> example can be followed in terms of corn. It's too easy to say that since
> money is not present the example is flawed. Put money into it and one could
> then say -- "Where is the fixed capital?" or "What about joint production?"
> Why not address the example itself?

-- The passage in question concerns the "price of yarn."
-- Andrew's original question in #3876 concerned the relation of the
*prices* and/or values of inputs and outputs.
-- c, v, and s all take the form of money.
-- the distinction between surplus product and surplus-value concerns, in
large part, the price-form.

Therefore, given what is being discussed, money is an essential component
of the subject.

It is a strange "new monetary interpretation" indeed which vacates money
from the analysis.

In solidarity, Jerry