[OPE-L:4417] RE: surplus-value "produced" and "realized"

Michael_A._Lebowit (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 17:41:57 -0800 (PST)

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In message Sat, 15 Mar 1997 22:56:53 -0800 (PST),
Fred Moseley <fmoseley@laneta.apc.org> writes:

> Mike L. argued in (4350)
> a. the surplus value shown to be produced in Vol I is surplus value in
> one circuit of capital. (Ie., there is no time dimension)
> b. in Vol. II (foreshadowed by the same discussion in the Grundrisse), a
> new concept of surplus value is developed--- it is now the"annual surplus
> value"...
> c. The annual surplus value is the concept of surplus value (with its
> time dimension) which is relevant to the concept of profit (and then the
> rate of profit)
> d. To derive the annual surplus value, the time of circulation is
> required; thus, realisation is implicit. Further, realised surplus value
> is the concept of surplus value which is relevant to profit as the
> capitalist perceives this.
> Mike, I agree with all of this. I agree that surplus-value at the end of
> volume 2 and the beginning of Volume 3 is not the same as the
> surplus-value at the end of Volume 1, in the sense that the latter may be
> considered as the surplus-value of one turnover period and the former is
> the surplus-value produced over an entire year, which will depend in part
> on the number of turnovers of capital which Marx analyzed in Volume 2.

I'm glad to see you agree with the above. It seems to me that this is
critical to grasping what has happened in Vol. II and recognising the
limited terrain of Vol I (however crucial it is). By accepting the above,
you accept the proposition which I made initially that the surplus value at
the end of Vol. II, the premise for Vol III, is *realised* surplus value.

> However, what you also seem to be suggesting is that Marx analyzed in
> Volume 2 the possibility that the magnitude of the "realized"
> surplus-value per year at the end of Volume 2 may be different from the
> magnitude of the "produced" surplus-value per year.

First and foremost, the issue here is one not of quantity but of quality.
Of course, once we recognise that (annual) realised surplus value is the
relevant category, then there is no inherent reason for the quantity of that
realised surplus value to be identical to a hypothetical "produced" annual
surplus value. In this respect, yes, there is that "possibility".

> This distinction
> between surplus-value "produced" and "realized" - in the sense that they
> are or may be different magnitudes - is what I see no textual evidence
> for in Volume 2. It seems to me that Marx assumed throughout Volume 2
> that all the surplus-value produced is realised. I would appreciate a
> discussion of the textual evidence on this particular point - the
> different magnitudes of "produced" and "realized" surplus-value in volume

If you are asking, can I demonstrate that Marx shows there is a systemic
basis for the non-realisation of surplus value (i.e., demonstrates the
"necessity" of crisis) in Vol. II, then certainly I cannot do that (because
it is not a subject he considered here--- as opposed to in TSV). However,
the *possibility* is explored throughout the discussion of reproduction.
That possibility is manifest as soon as Marx explains (as the quotes offered
earlier indicate) that the quantity of surplus value realised depends on the
level of capitalist expenditures (cf., eg, Vintage, p.497). To assume, in
contrast, that all the surplus value produced *must* be realised is--- as
Jerry points out--- tantamount to imposing Say's Law, which Marx was not at
all doing in his discussion.
Let me give you one example exploring the possibility of unrealised
surplus value in Vol. II. In Ch. 21.2, Marx poses the question as to what
happens if the Dept I capitalist realises his surplus value by a sale to a
Dept II capitalist but then does not spend that surplus value (ie., decides
instead to form "additional virtual money capital"). The result will
obviously be the inability of the Dept II capitalist to realise the value
and surplus value in his commodities (and, given the anticipatory capitalist
consumption expenditures) the inability to replace constant capital.
Alongside, then, that "virtual extra money capital in department I" is the
"piling up of commodity stocks in department II which cannot be transformed
back into productive capital (i.e. relative overproduction in department
II);...." (Vintage, p. 578-9)
Coming back to my original point, I was proposing that by the end of Vol.
II, both the concept of surplus value and the concept of advanced capital
have altered (as occurs in a dialectically constructed argument) and thus:

(1) the relevant surplus value is the annual surplus value realised (with
which you have agreed) and,
(2)athe total capital advanced now includes capital in circulation in
addition to capital in production.

I argued that once we accept (1), we must accept (2) because (1) implies a
time of circulation and that, in turn, implies (for continuous production)
an addition to the capital advanced in production. We know, too,
that Marx --both in the Grundrisse and Vol II-- directly related time of
circulation and capital in circulation. Eg., in Vol II, Marx explored the
effect of changes in circulation time. If the time of circulation rose
from 3 to 5 weeks (ie., there was a delay in realisation of value and
surplus value), then "in order to continue the [production] process on the
same scale, the capital advanced would have to be increased..."(359).
Accordingly, it seems to me that the cost-price with which Vol. III begins
appropriately includes capital tied up in the sphere of circulation--- just
as the profit is the annual surplus value.
Any problems with that?

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
Lasqueti Island (250) 333-8810