[OPE-L:4811] Re:

Makoto Itoh (mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Fri, 18 Apr 1997 09:29:51 -0700 (PDT)

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To Gil, Jerry and other friends;

Thank you, Jerry, for a red flag on chap5 issue. I was in a process of moving to
Kokugakuin University from the University of Tokyo due to the age limitation,
when I saw the communication on chap5 and Horie. Horie, as far as I read, tended
to criticize Marx over and over again, without presenting positive solutions so
as to strengthen Marx's basic theories. In this regard, his critical study of
Marx was different from Uno and Okishio, and was resultantly isolated without
getting much support among Japanese Marxian scholars.

As for surplus labour of independent small producers, it may analogically form
surplus value, so far as it is treated in the form of commodities. However, it
cannot transform money in the hands of independent small producers into capital,
because money would not make a self-expanding motion of value by small producers
without employing other workers. Besides, it is actually dubious if independent
small producers could always realize their own surplus labour. A small
independent producers society without ruling classes is just illusionary. Small
peasants, even when they can fortunately be independent from expropriation by
landowners, used to sell just a part of their products, and tended to be
expropriated by merchants and usurers. Although H.Otsuka, an economic historian,
believed that a sound path for a capitalist society was to start with
independent small producers' civil society, K.Uno and his followers tended to
doubt actuality of this scenario.

As for the concept of surplus value, Marx defines it initially as an increment
of money advanced in the form of M - C - M' (Penguin ed. Capital, I, p.251).
This definition is in accord with his theory of forms of value, as well as his
recognition of existence of merchant capital from very ancient age. Jerry is
correct in seeing Marx's recognition of the pre-modern forms of capital,
although the source of surplus value by merchant capitals cannot be limited to
surplus labour of independent small producers. Surplus labour by many other
forms of direct workers such as feudal serfs or ancient slaves must also have
served directly or indirectly as a source of such forms of surplus value, which
is often obtained in the form of inter-social trades. The major line of
historical transformation behind the theoretical transformation of money into
capital must not be a change from a classless independent small producers'
society into a capitalist class society, but typically a change from feudal
class society into capitalism. A problem in chap5 is that Marx theoretically
negates the possibility of existence of such forms of surplus value without a
modern capitalist social basis in the commodity of form of labour-power. As a
result, the theoretical concept of capital to obtain surplus value is narrowed
down just to industrial capital against his historical recognition.

As I presented the problem and a way-out in 4.3 in my Basic Theory of
Capitalism(1988), this another transformation problem is also to be suitably
solved from the view of distinguishing the forms and the substance of value. The
modern form of surplus value of industrial capital is socially grounded upon
surplus labour of wage workers in its substance. The form of surplus value and
social surplus labour were not so closely connected together in precapitalist
ages. On the one hand, the notion of forms of both capitals and surplus value
should be broader than the notion of modern industrial capital and its substance
of surplus value. On the other, surplus labour can historically exist also
broadly in many forms of production including small independent producers. The
theory of transformation of money into capital must take into consideration
these historical implications. The points may well relate to the theoretical
foundation of the fututre of socialism too.

Gill and Jerry, are these comments of some use and interest to your concerns of
chap5 issues?


>From Makoto Itoh; mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp