[OPE-L:3942] Re: Surplus-Value vs. Surplus Product

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Tue, 7 Jan 1997 06:02:13 -0800 (PST)

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A response to Allin's ope-l 3925.

Allin tries to situate the passage within the larger passage, and the larger
issues with which Marx is dealing, which is fine. But what this procedure
takes for granted is that the passage is homogeneous. It is not. Marx's
method here is a fortiori. He is using a stronger result --- negative surplus
value is compatible with positive simultaneist "surplus product" --- also to
obtain some weaker conclusions.

What Allin is trying to do, of course, is to avoid a *close* reading of the
part of the passage that is actually in dispute, so he runs hither and fro.
Specifically, he avoids addressing directly the following point I made in
ope-l 3908:

"Lest there still be any doubt as to what Marx is saying, let's examine the
passage in question a bit more closely. Note, firstly, that a non-forced
interpretation of this passage must have as its object the 'converse' of the
concept that surplus-value is expressed in a surplus product. 'An increase in
surplus product together with a decrease in surplus-value' --- 'SP(t+1) -
SP(t) > 0 AND s(t+1) - s(t) < 0' --- doesn't fulfill this requirement.
'Surplus product expresses surplus-value' --- 'IF SP(t) > 0, THEN s(t) > 0'
--- does so. Secondly, the converse must be negated ('it is not true').
Hence, a non-forced interpretation must be able to explain the case in which
'surplus product DOES NOT express surplus-value,' i.e., 'SP(t) > 0 AND s(t)
not > 0.'"

But one can always twist and shout to weasel out of the implications an
isolated passage. The simultaneist "interpretation" of this passage would be
more persuasive were simultaneism elsewhere compatible with Marx's value
theory. But it comes to anti-Marx conclusions again and again, whereas the
successivist method replicates Marx's conclusions. The reason for this is not
surprising. As the founder of your camp, the Walrasian L. von Bortkiewicz,
noted, the successivist method was Marx's own.

A propos of this, I hope to be able to write a post later today on a beautiful
theorem of Frank Thompson's that I came across at the ASSA. It shows that, if
the real wage goes up and down together with labor demand, then simultaneism
implies that a rise in the value composition of capital RAISES the profit
rate, so that the rise in the composition of capital is a COUNTERACTING
tendency to the falling rate of profit. Stay tuned!

Andrew Kliman