[OPE-L:4900] Re: two questions re V3, Ch. 10

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 1 May 1997 14:08:43 -0700 (PDT)

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Chai-on: thank you for your reply to my questions in [4854]. In
[OPE-L:4897], you wrote:

I. The "mathematics" of class unity
> > Near the end of the chapter Marx writes:
> > "We thus have a mathematically exact demonstration of why the
> > capitalists, no matter how little love is lost among them in their
> > mutual competition, are nevertheless united by a real freemasonary
> > vis-a-vis the working class as a whole" (Penguin ed., p. 300).
> >Q: What and where is the "mathematically exact demonstration" to this
> > effect in this chapter (V3, Ch. 10)?
> A: general profit rate = total surplus value / total capital. (why not?)

But how does this presentation in Ch. 10 represent a "mathematically
exact demonstration" of Marx's claim above regarding the class unity of
capitalists vis-a-vis the working class?

> >Q: If it is a "mathematically exact demonstration", then it should be
> > able to be expressed mathematically, right? Any takers?
> A: Of course, the surplus-value extracted by the capitalist A concerns the
> other capitalists B and C. Because they can get a part of it in the form of
> general profit, as far as it goes into the total profit (total surplus
> value)..

B and C _might_ be able to obtain some of the surplus-value extracted
from productive labor employed by A. More generally, B and C might want
to express class solidarity with A in the belief that wage decreases
and/or increases in surplus value at A _might_ lead to wage decreases and
increases in surplus value at B and C. But, capital is not simple unity
alone and capitalists exist in a competitive environment where they
might want to see wage _increases_ and _reductions_ in surplus value
created at A but _not_ wage increases for their own workers or
reductions in surplus value at B and/or C.

Thus, capitalists in one country or region might want to see _increased_
wages for workers employed in _another_ country or region. Certainly,
there would be many capitalists in the US who would not object to wage
increases in Japan and S. Korea (although, transnational corporations
based in the US who have operations in Japan and S. Korea would have a
different perspective).

In any event, I have no idea how this can all be expressed
mathematically. Indeed, I don't think it can be expressed mathematically.

> >Q: What assumptions are required for this "mathematically exact
> > demonstration"?
> A: the total surplus value is exactly the same as the total profit., and
> the total capital value is pregiven. All sectors are under the capitalist
> mode of production, all capitals and labors are completely free mobile, and
> with complete versatility or flexibility.

Yes, the mobility of capital and labour-power are necessary assumptions
(see p. 298, Penguin ed).

For instance, one condition is "completely free trade within the society
in question and the abolition of all monopolies other than natural ones"

Yet, what happens to this class unity when there _isn't_ "completely free
trade" and when there _are_ monopolies?

Regarding the mobility of labor, what happens when labour-power _isn't_
completely mobile?

II. The "special study on competition" and wage-labour

> >Q: What does the above passage tell us about the possible contents of the
> > "special study on competition"? [Note that it is unclear from the
> > passage whether the last sentence refers to the subjects in the last
> > paragraph or the last two paragraphs].
> A: Competition is to be on a free and equal footings.

Even where capital is on a "free" footing (abstracting from the
state-form), capitalists are not on a "equal footing." The process of the
concentration and centralization of capital that accompanies the
accumulation of capital will, in fact, assure that capitalists are not on
a "equal footing".

> Workers are not on
> the equal footings with the capitalists.


> So, they should be subjugated to
> the capitalist mode, to the capitalist competition.
> The capitalist competition would comprize not only the subjugation but also
> the capitalist mobility and the workers' mobility. Since the latter two are
> so evident, you could assume the 'last sentence' to have referred to the
> subject in the last paragraph only. But, it does not matter even if you
> assume in the other way. The meaning is not to be injured.

Why is "workers' mobility ... so evident"? As Marx himself notes on p.
298 there are many obstacles to that mobility.

> > i) p. 205. Concerns the "full development of the credit system and
> > competition on the world market." Also relates to the
> > *revaluation and devaluation of capital; release and tying-up
> > of capital* (since the passage appears at the beginning of that
> > section) and *moral depreciation* (which is referred to later in
> > the section on p. 209);
> Modern credit system as against the pre-modern (semi-feudal) credit system
> is characterized by the credit resource financed from the money capital
> freed from the industrial capitals. This is a hot issue in S Korea. Because
> he have not enough capital accumulation in industries, the credit system is
> still pre-modern. (kerb credit markets are developed)

What are "kerb credit markets"?

Does this subject belong in the "special study on competition"? Why or
why not?

> > ii) p. 342. "Reduction of wages below their value" in the chapter on
> > the "Counteracting Factors" to the tendency for the general rate
> > of profit to decline.
> It would make the capitalist competition less severe. If wages are not
> reduced, some capitalists would get the profit rate even below the level of
> interest rate.

How are wages reduced and why does the subject of a "reduction of wages
below their value" belong to the study of competition rather than
wage-labour? Or, does the "special study on competition" also include an
investigation of "competition" among workers?

> > iii) p. 426. growth of "non-functioning or only semi-functioning
> > commercial capital"/"ease of entry into the retail trade, with
> > speculation and a surplus of unoccupied capital"].
> Such things would lessen the rate of general profits, and makes the
> capitalists competition more severe, more antagnostic.

Don't you see a consistency between the question of "more mobile
capital" (on p. 298) and the above in terms of topics to be discussed in
the "eventual" study on competition? This, in turn, would suggest that
*barriers to the mobility of capital* were to be discussed in the book on

> >Q: Why did Marx suggest that topics such as:
> > -- labor mobility (and laws relating to same);
> > -- "indifference of the worker to the content of his work";
> > -- reduction to simple labour;
> > -- "disappearance of all prejudices of trade and craft among the
> > workers";
> > -- "subjugation of the worker to the capitalist mode of production"
> > "belong in the special study of *competition*?
> This is a very important question in regard to the notion of ABSTRACT LABOR
> as mentioned in his GRUNDRISSE. Job trainings are from the requirements of
> the capitalists themselves.

But, labor mobility is a subject that workers have some say in as well
... Further, the "disappearance of all prejudices of trade and craft"
has important implications for the class unity of workers, no? In any
event, my question remains the same: why do these topics belong in the
study of competition?

> >Q: What is the relation between the contents of Marx's planned book on
> > competition and his planned work on Wage-Labour (Book 3 in the
> > "6-book-plan")?
> A: Competition should comprise both capital and wage labor and so should be
> carried out after discussing both.

Please explain some more (as you know, I like to talk about the
6-book-plan :-)).

> Jerry, if my understanding is aberrant, and need more deep thinking, please
> poit out some, please. You should have already some definite answers, I
> suppose.

Contrary to David L's belief, not everyone on the list who has questions
also has definite answers. Certainly, I have a position on the
6-book-plan which I have enumerated on many occasions ... but I don't
have all of the answers. It seems to me that the posing of questions is
an essential part of the process of enquiry in the sense that before one
can offer the "right" answers one must first ask the "right" questions.

In solidarity, Jerry