[OPE-L:4289] RE: cost price and Volume 3

Michael_A._Lebowit (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Thu, 6 Mar 1997 03:32:25 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

Next message: Michael_A._Lebowitz: "[OPE-L:4288] RE: [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital"
Next message: Michael_A._Lebowitz: "[OPE-L:4288] RE: [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital"
Next message: Michael_A._Lebowitz: "[OPE-L:4288] RE: [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital"
Next message: Michael_A._Lebowitz: "[OPE-L:4288] RE: [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital"
Next message: Michael_A._Lebowitz: "[OPE-L:4288] RE: [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital"
Previous message: Gerald Levy: "[OPE-L:4287] Re: Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy"

In message Tue, 4 Mar 1997 22:33:49 -0800 (PST),
Fred Moseley <fmoseley@laneta.apc.org> writes:

> I want to try to respond briefly and concisely (due to time constraints)
> to Mike's very interesting first question to his "quiz":
> 1. What is the reason (the logical basis) for beginning Vol. 3 with the
> category of cost-price?
> 1. The strating point of the answer is that main subject of Volume 3 is
> the DISTRIBUTION OF SURPLUS-VALUE, first into individual branches of
> production (Part 2) and then the further division of surplus-value into
> industrial profit, merchant profit, interest, and rent (Parts 4, 5, and
> 6). This subject determines the overall logical structure of Volume 3
> and, as we shall see, also requires cost price as the starting point.

No, as an antecedent only.


> 4. Prices of production are explained on the basis of the COST PRICE of
> commodities (i.e. the sum of constant capital and variable capital
> consumed in the production of commodities). Prices of production are
> explained in Part 2 as the sum of the cost price (k) and the average
> profit (p); i.e.
> ppd(i) = k(i) + p(i)
> Therefore, the concept of cost price must be introduced and explained
> prior to the explanation of prices of production.

Yes, prior to that explanation, but...

> 5. Therefore, Volume 3 starts with cost price as the necessary
> preliminary step in the explanation of prices of production, which is the
> first and must fundamental aspect of the distribution of surplus-value
> explained in Volume 3. This is the "logical basis for beginning Volume 3
> with the category of cost price."

But absolutely nothing that Fred has said (and I agree with it) justifies
that "therefore".
Does it come down to saying, well it's the right starting
point because that is what was in the 1864-5 manuscript?

> 6. Jerry is also right (quoting the first paragraph of Volume 3) that one
> of the main goals of Volume 3 is to explain the forms of appearance of
> capitalism, and in particular, to explain the false perceptions of
> capitalists (and economists). Marx's explanation of capitalists' false
> consciousness follows from his theory of surplus-value, the fundamental
> subject of Volume 3. The forms of consciousness explained in Volume 3 are
> the forms of appearance of surplus-value, i.e. the individual component
> parts of surplus-value (industrial profit, merchant profit, etc.). The
> main point of Marx's explanation of capitalist consciousness is that, once
> surplus-value is divided into these individual parts (in actual practice,
> in the real capitalist economy, by competition), then these individual
> Formula" and the fetishism of capital summarized so eloquently by Marx in
> the final Part 7 of Volume 3.

Yes (again).

> So, Mike, did I pass the quiz?

Do you think so?

> More seriously, what do you think?

I think we have to look for the logical transition from Volume II. Where
are we at the end of that? Unfortunately, that's not entirely clear since
that is precisely what Marx was working on and did not complete. What we
don't get from Marx are his ruminations upon his findings-- eg., that
capitalist expenditures determine the level of surplus value realised, that
the expenditures of capitalists and workers (ie., the M they part with
thereby allowing C' to survive their leap) determines the value realised
(revealing that M was never really a "thing" but the form of expenditure).
The reproduction models which complete capital as a whole, too, are
precisely the point of passage from capital in general to many capitals (as
Marx said it would be in the Grundrisse). So, a question is whether Vol III,
unlike I and II---which are exploring capital in general-- must not *begin*
with capitals in a world of many capitals, which have managed to sell their
commodities (but not necessarily at c+v+s--unless that s refers to realised
surplus value)?
It's too late to try to think out the rest of the argument at this point.
So, responding to a question with a question, I ask basically doesn't the
end of Volume II matter to the appropriate starting point of III?

in great anticipation of more "quiz" answers,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax (with warning): (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island (250) 333-8810