[OPE-L:4600] Re: Surplus value and capitalist consumption

Ajit Sinh (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Fri, 28 Mar 1997 23:54:19 -0800 (PST)

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At 06:44 AM 3/27/97 -0800, Alan Freeman wrote:
>Regarding Ajit's [4556]:
>I think it is a fair comment that you have a difficulty
>responding on two fronts. However, I suffer also since I
>must respond both to you and to 'SSS' (TSS without the T).
>And they in turn must respond to both of us. So we have a
>triangle, which is always stormy. You and SSS agree that
>values and prices are determined simultaneously.

I don't say that value and prices are determined simultaneously. Value can
be determined quite independent from prices. Prices or rather 'prices of
production' can be determined from given values as Bortkiewicz, Seton etc.
did. One has just to agree on what price value condition must be imposed to
translate relative prices into labor-time units. You could also determine
prices from physical input-output system and translate those relative prices
into labor-time units by imposing some invariant value-price condition.
We and SSS
>agree that the value of constant and variable capital are
>determined by the labour-time expressed in the money paid
>for these. As for you and me, we agree on nothing but at
>least we are talking.

That's cool!
You say:
>If we construct two parallel hypothetical situation where
>everything in the two economies remain the same except that
>composition of capitalist consumption differ, i.e. there is
>difference in allocation of labor but no difference at the
>level of production...their solution will give you two
>different rates of exploitation in the two systems.
>I recall you making a similar point at the ASSA. I am sure
>there is a case to answer. I do not want to be dismissive of
>this point and will excuse myself for responding at some
>length to give you a clear target:
>It seems a valid criticism of SSS, but I cannot respond on
>their behalf. They might reply that in these two
>hypothetical societies the levels of output in different
>sectors would be different, although the proportions are the
>same. I may have misunderstood your argument but it is not
>clear to me how the capitalists can consume more jackets
>without making more jackets. So although this might not make
>the outcome any more acceptable to you, there are perhaps
>productive differences between these societies as well as
>differences in circulation.

Well, may be we should leave it for the new solutionists. What circulation
has to do with rate of exploitation, as long as we agree that value is
produced in production and not circulation? My basic point is this: Let us
suppose in the two socities: the length of the working day is the same, the
intensity of work is the same, the technology of production is the same, the
workers consume exactly the same commodities and spend all their money
income on consumption. The only difference is that in the first society the
capitalists consume ax of x and by of y, and in second society cx of x and
cy of y,and that the total labor-time spent in both the society is also the
same. Tell me on what marxist ground the rate of exploitation should differ
in the two societies?
>As for us, we prefer one reality to two hypotheses. So I do
>not think this is such a problem for us, but I will return to
>this. I begin with a little word that crops up in your next
>How do you determine commodity values? And how is the "value
>of money" determined?

>If you ask how I should *calculate* (conceptual
>determination) commodity values then I have your answer:
>their value is equal to the sum of the dead labour-time
>expressed in the money paid for the commodities used to
>produce them, and the new labour-time expended in producing
>them. Since this has been questioned by others, bear with me
>while I lay it out in full.
>Initial givens
>Suppose initially at some point in time the value of all
>commodities in society is known in labour-time terms. I hope
>I am allowed to call this a 'given'. It is the only one.

Sorry Alan! Can't give you this. No commodity never in history had its value
written on its body. Value is a definitional category. You have to define it
in a consistent manner. You cannot take it as a transparantly given
empirical category. This is a conceptual mistake in my opinion. Thus the
rest of your explanation becomes irrelevant.

Cheers, ajit sinha