[OPE-L:4321] Re:Re: another Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy (fwd)

Alejandro Valle Baez (valle@servidor.dgsca.unam.mx)
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 07:30:40 -0800 (PST)

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On Fri, 7 Mar 1997, Michel_A. Lebowitz wrote:

> There is no question in my mind that the concept of potential surplus as
> presented in Monopoly Capital bore little relation to Marxian theory. It
> derived from a particular reading of the work of Michal Kalecki and his
> student, Joseph Steindl, by Baran. Whereas Kalecki/Steindl were primarily
> focusing on the question of unrealised surplus value-- that a rising rate of
> exploitation (in the absence of sufficient capitalist expenditures) would be
> reflected in decreased capacity utilisation (ie., waste), Baran proceeded to
> extend this and to argue that a part of the surplus "assumes the form" of
> waste. This idea, of course, became central in Monopoly Capital. Similarly,
> the concept of "potential surplus" came from Baran and relates to his work
> on UDCs.
> I think it is important to understand that, whereas Sweezy (influenced by
> Kalecki, Steindl and Baran) adopted the potential surplus argument, etc at
> the time of the writing of Monopoly Capital), it basically represents a blip
> in his argument--- neither before the mid-60s nor much after Baran's death
> did this play a role. On the other hand, what Sweezy is totally consistent
> on from the Theory of Capitalist Development on is his rejection of the
> falling rate of profit argument on the grounds that it is not very
> convincing to argue that a rising rate of surplus value can not counteract
> the effect of a rising occ. That is a consistent thread in his argument,
> that and the focus on capital's tendency to produce more surplus value than
> can be realised, a tendency intensified by monopoly capital. (I'm drawing
> here from a few points in my essay on Sweezy in Maxine Berg, ed, Political
> Economy in the 20th Century (Philip Allan, 1990) in the event people are
> interested in pursuing these points.) These points also are in Monopoly
> Capital.
> In this respect, I don't think it is entirely appropriate to present as
> a critique of Baran/Sweezy an emphasis on increases in the rate of surplus
> value.

I agree with all this. Thank you for the enlighten commentary. However, I
have some questions:

1. I agree that potencial surplus concept may be very useful. Do
you agree with Mandel that monopoly capital cannot expand such kind of
surplus beyond surplus value (limited by growth of labor force and rate
of surplus value)? I think this is a basic point in labor theory of
value: the surplus (realised or potential) cannot be greather than living

2. The rate of surplus value has a limit: if you write s'=s/(s+v) the
limit is 1. Hence, any valid critique to the law of falling rate of profit
should argue that the organic composition of capital has not
rising tendency . Do you agree with this?

3. Do you know who are continuing Baran-Seezy agenda in present days? If
so, what problems are they dealing with?

Un cordial saludo

Alejandro Valle Baeza
Facultad de Economia
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Mexico 04510, D.F.