[OPE-L:4637] surplus-value and capitalist consumption

fred mosele (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 21:57:19 -0800 (PST)

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A request for clarification of Ajit's criticism of my interpretation (in
to which I will respond more fully after Washington.

Ajit argues:

... you will find that your rate of surplus value would change with
simple change in capitalists' consumption habits, everything else
remaining constant. So what happens to the whole idea of exploitation is
determined at the level of production?

Two questions for Ajit:

1. How are you defining "my" rate of surplus-value?

2. How do you think "my" rate of surplus-value is affected by capitalist
consumption? I don't think so. Indeed, one of the advantages of the new
solution (emphasized by Dumenil) is that, whereas in the standard Sraffian
interpretation, the rate of surplus-value IS affected by workers' and
capitalists' consumption patterns, the rate of surplus-value in the new
solution is NOT afected by these consumption patterns. The same conclusion
is also true of my interpretation.

If surplus-value is defined as the labor-time embodied in surplus goods, as
in the Sraffian interpretation, then surplus-value will depend on the
nature of the surplus goods. However, if surplus-value is defined as the
excess of the money value added over the money wage, as in the new solution
and in my interpretation, then surplus-value is independent on the specific
surplus goods. In other words, the opposite of what Ajit argues.

So, Ajit, please explain your argument in greater detail. Thanks in advance.