[OPE-L:4280] Re: cost-price and all that

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 4 Mar 1997 06:40:46 -0800 (PST)

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Mike L wrote in [OPE-L:4275]:

> 1. What is the reason (the logical basis) for beginning Vol. III with the
> category of cost-price?

I think that Marx tries to answer that question in the first two pages of
what became V3.

In the very first paragraph of V3, Marx attempts to explain the relation
of that volume to V1 and V2 and the subject matter of V3 and says:

"Our concern is rather to discover and present the concrete forms
which grow out of the *process of capital's movement considered
as a whole*. In their actual movement, capitals confront one
another in certain concrete forms, and, in relation to these, both
the shape capital assumes in the immediate production process and
its shape in the process of circulation appear merely as particular
movements. The configuration of capital, as developed in this
volume, thus approach step by step the form in which they appear on
the surface of society, in the action of different capitals on one
another, i.e. in competition, and in the everyday consciousness of
the agents of production themselves" (Penguin ed., p. 117).

The very next paragraph begins with the familiar C = c + v + s. Two short
paragraphs later, Marx introduces the topic of cost price.

This transition seems pretty seemless to me, I must say. Cost price is a
category of concretion that appears on the "surface of society" and in
the "everyday consciousness" of capitalists whereas the category of
surplus-value is veiled by the market and does not enter into "everyday
consciousness." The initial issue, then, is the relation of cost-price
to profit (Ch. 1) and then the "the rate of profit" (Ch.2), followed
by "The Relationship between the Rate of Profit and the Rate of
Surplus-Value" (Ch. 3), etc..

Yet, of course, issues remain. For instance, the meaning of"competition"
in V3. Marx seems to be giving us two stories here:

Story #1: V3 concerns the "configuration of capital ... thus approach
step by step the form in which they appear on the surface of society, in
the actions of different capitals on one another, i.e. competition ...."
In other words, competition is part of the story of V3 according to Story

Story #2: The subject of competition is to be developed elsewhere,
perhaps in a later volume.

These two stories suggest to me that he had a "story of competition"
appropriate, he thought, for the subject matter of V3 and another "story
of competition" related to further (as yet undeveloped) categories of

Perhaps we could understand this question more if we had a discussion on
the status of "competition" within the overall logical structure of V3.

But, to return to your question, I still don't know why you think
beginning V3 with cost price was problematic ... and I eagerly await

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: welcome back (to the discussion) Mike L, Fred, and Alejandro V-B.
This is a good sign for March.