[OPE-L:4468] Re: [BRUCE] Re: value and productivity in "A C

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 22:39:18 -0800 (PST)

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A response to Alejandro Ramos (ope-l 4461) and Bruce (ope-l 4457)

Alejandro, I *did* provide the figures for physical output, above Table 1.
These figures were applicable to all three tables. Let me quote:

"Technical changes occur in the following manner. In the initial period,
period 0, 256 bu. of corn and 128 hrs. of living labor are used to produce 320

bu. In each subsequent period, exactly the same amount of living labor is
extracted, but both the corn input and corn output increase by 25 0.000000e+00ach
period. Through period 3, the physical quantities are thus:

Period Corn Input Living Labor Corn Output
0 256 128 320
1 320 128 400
2 400 128 500
3 500 128 625"

So your physical quantities aren't right. The reason is that "productivity"
is measured in the tables as ("net product")/(living labor) instead of
(output)/(dead labor + living labor).

Accordingly, Bruce's unit values are correct. Yours are not.

But I think Alejandro's right in that it is better (to put it mildly) to
measure productivity his way. So why did I do it the other way? Simply
because I wanted to make Tables 2 and 3 look as similar as possible. (But
whereas physical "productivity" drives the figures in Table 2, through its
influence on the weights, it has NO role in the Table 3 calculations.) I see
that this has caused confusion and that I should present the illustration
differently, to avoid giving the impression that I endorse ("net
product")/(living labor) as a measure of productivity.

I do not. I think the whole concept of net product is an ideological one,
other forms of which Marx battled vigorously. E.g., his hundreds of pages, in
Vol. I, Vol. II, and the TSV exposing Smith's "incredible aberration" of
"spiriting away" constant capital. I'm pretty sure that the root of the
notion of "net product" is the ideological distortion that consumption is the
purpose of capitalist production. Anyone able to shed more light on this?

Part of what is involved is an elemental confusion between value and use-value
(big surprise, right?). Because all new value comes from living labor, the
simultaneists look for a physical counterpart to this, in which living labor
produces the new product ("net product") and, apparently, the means of
production are merely preserved and transferred to the product. So we see
once again the characteristic simultaneist move of establishing a one-to-one
relationship between value and use-value. For instance, see _Understanding
Capital_, p. 13: "Every commodity contains a certain amount of value, and the
mass of all commodities *newly produced* in a society in a period of time also
contains a certain value, the aggregate *value added* of all the *newly
produced* commodities." [middle emphasis in original]

At the beginning of the year, 400 bushels of seed-corn are planted, and, at
the end of the year, 500 bushels of corn are harvested. We're supposed to
believe that only 100 of these are "newly produced." Which ones? How did the
other 400 manage to reconstitute themselves so nicely? And why go through all
the bother and expense of putting the other 400 in the ground in the first

Double counting, you say? Show me where?

Let's take another type of example, directly dealing with productivity. In
year 1, 9 bushels of corn and 1 unit of living labor yield 10 bushels of corn.
In year 2, the same amounts of corn and living labor yield 11 bushels of
corn. The exact same set of inputs thus yields 10% more output in year 2 than
in year 1. It seems to me that productivity has increased by 10%. Bruce
would have us believe that productivity has increased by 100%! The only way
of making sense of this is that the seed-corn just reproduces itself, and all
new production is due to living labor (one again sees how the physical
relation is wrongly made analogous to the value relation). But this is simply
ludicrous, as well as contrary to Marx's theory.

Unless one *is* willing to say that productivity has increased by 100%, one
cannot maintain both that (a) the simultaneist interpretation of valuation in
Marx is correct and (b) changes in productivity lead to comparable changes in
unit values in the other direction (more precisely, productivity*value = a

Also note how the physical relation is made to appear, wrongly, the way the
value relation actually is: past corn merely preserves itself and transfers
itself to the product; the living labor produces

So, no, my example doesn't indicate a failure of the TSS interpretation to
replicate Marx's own value theory. Just as the meaning of "value added"
differs in simultaneism and successivism, so does the meaning of

Das Kapital vs. Das Korn. Your choice.

Andrew Kliman