[OPE-L:5264] Re: x+a = revenue

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 15 Jun 1997 05:55:03 -0700 (PDT)

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Returning to the quote cited by Andrew K in [OPE-L:5261]:

> "If the annual surplus-value on a capital C = x, for example, the
> cheapening of those commodities that go into the consumption of the
> capitalist may bring it about that x - a is sufficient to procure the
> same means of satisfactions, etc. as before. A portion of the
> capitalist's revenue = a is thus set free and can now serve either to
> expand his consumption or be transformed back into capital
> (accumulation). Conversely, if x+a is required in order to continue
> with the same mode of life, either this expenditure must be restricted
> or else a portion of income = a that was previously accumulated must
> now be spent as revenue" (Karl Marx, _Capital_, Vol. III, Ch. 6,
> section 2, fourth paragraph, p. 206 of Vintage ed.).

Two responses:

(1) The above concerns how changes in the cost of *means of consumption
for capitalists* can affect the division between capital and revenue.
Thus, it concerns the affect of changes in the price of *luxury goods*
which are exclusively consumed by capitalists on the amount of money
that capitalists have for the purpose of individual consumption
and accumulation.

The way I thus read the above is as follows:

Suppose there is a category of luxury goods consumed exclusively by
capitalists. Call this category -- "caviar."

Now, suppose that the cost of producing caviar is decreased by
revolutions in the means of producing caviar and that the market price
of caviar falls. Capitalists will now find that they can obtain the
same "means of satisfaction" and maintain the "same mode of life"
at a lower cost. In other words, the cheapening of caviar frees up
[releases] money that would have previously been used for individual
[unproductive] consumption by capitalists for accumulation. Conversely,
if the price of caviar rises, then capitalists if they are to maintain
the "same mode of life" now have to allocate a greater proportion of
surplus value for productive investment in capital.

x-a would seem to be more of a liklihood, i.e. it is highly likely that
revolutions in the means of producing caviar could result in a lower
price of caviar. x + a, though, might happen for other reasons, e.g.
suppose there is "overfishing" of sturgeon fish by the caviar-producing
capitalists. This might mean that the costs of harvesting a given
quantity of caviar would rise causing the market price of caviar to also

In the example I chose, the "caviar-producing capitalists" might instead
by viewed as *landowners* (see V3, p. 1026, Penguin ed.) and the
increasing price of caviar could then cause the *rent* received by them
from capitalists to increase. In that case, there would be a *transfer of
surplus value* from capitalists to the caviar "fishery-owners" thus
leaving capitalists with less surplus value that they can use for
accumulation if they insist on maintaining the "same mode of life."

(2) While the above is fascinating, as far as I can tell it has *nothing*
to do with the specific issue being discussed, i.e. concepts of revenue
used in a discussion of the *transformation of value into prices of
production* in an interpretation of Marx. That was, after all, what Fred
and you were discussing (see [4818]). You have yet to demonstrate that
either x-a or x+a are relevant for a discussion of *that* subject.
Moreover the possibility of x + a, as discussed above, seems -- at least
to me -- to be related to *rent* and monopolies. Yet monopolies and
monopoly power are explicitly excluded from the transformation, as John
has on occasion reminded us.

In solidarity, Jerry