[OPE-L:4923] Re: ideal vs real value

Michael_A._Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 5 May 1997 15:27:51 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

In message Sun, 4 May 1997 08:07:25 -0700 (PDT),
Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu> writes:

> The conservation of value principle holds that the magnitude of value is
> determined in production and can not be increased _or decreased_ in
> circulation. According to that principle, the magnitude of value is
> "given" following production and can not be "lost" , "spoiled" or
> "destroyed." Rather, if one accepts that principle, then value and surplus
> value can *only* be re-distributed among capitalists. Thus, in considering
> the affect of technical change, the magnitude of value and s "lost" by
> some capitalists is _exactly_ equal to the magnitude of value and s
> "gained" by other capitalists. The result is then like a "zero-sum game".
>>From my perspective, this theorem has the very real disadvantage that
> it denies the possibility of the *destruction* of capital values such that
> the aggregate magnitude of value can be *diminished* rather than *only*
> transferred.

I agree, Jerry, and think the evidence is overwhelming that the
principle is not a valid representation of Marx's position--- as the quote
from the Grundrisse which I offered in 4874 (in response to Andrew) reveals:

Suppose, Marx posits, that the capitalist's attempt to sell his
commodities (pregnant with ideal surplus-value) breaks down. "(T)hen the
capitalist's money has been transformed into a worthless product, and has
not only not gained a new value, but also lost its original value. But
whether this is so or not, in any case devaluation forms one moment of the
realization process; which is already simply implied in the fact that the
product of the process in its immediate form is not *value*, but first has
to enter anew into circulation in order to be realized as such. Therefore,
while capital is reproduced as value and new value in the production
process, it is at the same time posited as *not-value*, as something which
first has to be *realized as value by means of exchange*."(Vintage, 403. All
emphasis is in the original.)

In addition to the relevance of this issue to the position that Andrew
and many others yet to respond to the argument hold, this discussion also
seems to come back to the earlier exchange with Fred over surplus value in
Vol. I vs surplus value in Vol. II (after realization). Is your position
that the two sums are identical (which I believe you were arguing and
promised to return to) based upon an acceptance of the conservation
principle, Fred?

in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax (with warning): (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island (250) 333-8810