[OPE-L:5259] Re: trpf/extra profits vs. extra surplus value?

rakesh bhandari (djones@uclink.berkeley.edu)
Sat, 14 Jun 1997 00:27:27 -0700 (PDT)

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>I am saying this because Marx insists on this point: International
>Publishers, Vol. I
> p. 317:
> "This augmentation of surplus value is pocketed by him (oops!), whether
>his commodities belong or not to the class of necessary means of

Accepting Paulo C's argument that Marx here is indeed speaking of the
production of extra value by the innovator, I would like to note how Marx
continues in the same paragraph: "...this extra surplus value vanishes as
soon as the new method is generalized, for then the difference between the
individual value of the cheapened commodity and its social value vanishes.
The law of determination of value by labor-time makes itself felt to the
individual capitalist who applies theis new method of production by
compelling him sell his goods under their social value, the same law,
acting as a coercive law of competition, forces his competitors to adopt
the new method. The general rate of surplus value is therefore ultimately
affected by the whole process only when the increase in the productivity of
labor has seized upon those branches of production and cheapened those
commodities that contribute towards the necessary means of susbsistence,
and are therefore elements of the value of labor power."

Marx's whole argument in this chapter is to show that individual
capitalists cannot gain surplus labor merely by reducing the wage below the
value of the labor power (in part he is simply assuming away this
possibility via Gil's favorite assumption of the so-called law of value) or
even by increasing the productivity of their own workers and thereby
winning surplus labor (for while this does indeed yield extra value,as
Paulo C has insisted, it is bound to vanish through the generalization of
the superior technique).

Rather the production of relative surplus value depends on a reduction in
the value of labor power, and this is not in the hands of any one
capitalist to effect, nor is it the intention of any one capitalist to
effect the reduction in the value of the goods which enter into the
workers' consumption so as to make possible the production of relative
surplus value. This cheapening of the workers--upon which all capitalists
depend--is brought about in and through their mutual competition.

As I suggested, this is what (I believe) Geoffrey Kay brings out in his
Economic Theory of the Working Class.