[OPE-L:4335] Re:Re: another Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy (fwd)

Michael_A._Lebowit (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 10 Mar 1997 12:06:15 -0800 (PST)

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In message Sun, 9 Mar 1997 07:30:40 -0800 (PST),
Alejandro Valle Baeza <valle@servidor.dgsca.unam.mx> writes:

> 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
> labor.

I probably wasn't clear as to my own view of the Baran-Sweezy "potential
surplus" concept.I think it was poorly considered, that Baran/ Sweezy
shifted back and forth between actual surplus and potential surplus, that
they double-counted in adding government expenditures to profits in
estimating the size of the surplus and that the relation to Marxist theory
is only terminological. On the other hand, I think the Kalecki/Steindl
concept of potential surplus (although they do not use the term) is
consistent with Marx in that it is a concept of surplus value produced (in
contrast to realised); that produced surplus value would be limited exactly
as you say.

> 2. The rate of surplus value has a limit: if you write s'=s/(s+v) the
> limit is 1.

I prefer to write the rate of surplus value as Marx did (s/v); remember,
formulae are not neutral. Written this way, there is no limit to s/v in the
sphere of production as productivity increases; we can say (as Marx did in
the Grundrisse) that there is a limit to surplus labour per worker--- the

> 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?

No, it is sufficient that the increases in the organic composition of
capital are smaller than the increases in the rate of surplus value.

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

I don't have any special knowledge of this. For a number of years, John
Bellamy Foster appeared to be quite active in trying to carry on the
"Monopoly Capital" tradition but he now appears to be more focussed on
ecological Marxist issues. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff themselves moved on to
focus on the question of the financial sector but are less active now
because of age and healthg. Is your question broader than this? Do you mean
people who are focussing on realisation?

in solidarity,
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
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