[OPE-L:5061] Re: question

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Sun, 18 May 1997 02:10:58 -0700 (PDT)

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At 13:46 -0700 17-05-1997, Gerald Levy wrote:

>It is in the systematic and generalized _exchange_ of *labour-power for
>money* that the value-relationship is created. This is logically a
>prerequisite for capitalist production even if workers, in practice, are
>generally paid in arrears.
>Viewed from that perspective, labor-power has a homogeneous character
>as quality [its character as source of value and surplus-value] which
>comes to be expressed as quantity through the value-form. Yet, the
>heterogeneity of labor-power -- labour as diversity -- can give
>rise to variations in the magnitude of surplus-value and wages.

Jerry, that is exactly my position. But that means that living labour is
homogeneous because it is the use value of a commodity bought by money
capital on the labour market, not because its product will eventually be
exchanged with money on the commodity market.

Of course, the two hopmogeneisations are linked, but they are not the same.
The possibility to take the labour as homogeneous before circulation comes,
as you say, from the exchange of labour power with money. Logically, at
that point, money cannot be conceived as a commodity.

If this step is not taken, I fear that it is necessary to admit that it is
not possible to say that value is there already in production and only
realized (or actualized) in circulation.

But if that step is taken, the consequence follows that the class which has
a privileged access to money is able to define the net composition of
output prior to productio, as well as extracting a given total amount of
living labour. As a consequence, both the living labour and the necessary
labour (the labour required to produce the commodities going back to
workers) are defined prior to circulation. Hence, the rate of surplus value
calculated at the values of the 1st volume of Capital remains unchanged in
the transformation.

Prices may change the evaluation of constant capital, and the evaluation of
variable capital, but not the division of the social working day between
capital and the working class. Prices change the allocation of the living
labour as represented in the money going to the separate branches of
production within capital.

That is, for example: to guarantee an equal rate of profits more (less)
labour represented in money must go to the producers of wage goods than is
embodied in their production; as a consequence, less (more) labour
represented in money will go to the producers of profit goods than is
embodied in their production. But this circulation factor - which is highly
relevant for individual capitalists, and which also doubles and distort the
aggregate profit/wage ratio - it is not relevant for capital as a whole.
This redistribution of the labour represented in money is a redistribution
of the money going to all capitalists on the commodity market at the end of
the commodity market when selling the net output. Through a profit/wage
ratio different than the rate of surplus value, and which is a function, of
price determination, the same 'hidden' reality is going on in production.
And, of course, with a given configuration of production, both ratios are
uniquely determined once you add the 'law of exchange'. But the rate of
surplus value is already there in productione, before circulation, that is
irrspective of the 'law of exchange'.

This, of course, following Fred Moseley's view that in most of the three
volumes of Capital all the potential value in production is realized on the

Hope it is clear how from the answer to my "question" a different
interpretation of the 'postulate' and of the rate of surplus value comes
down naturally.