[OPE-L:6381] RE: Variable capital and the determination of value

Eduardo Maldonado Filho (eduardo@orion.ufrgs.br)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 15:27:18 -0300

Chris, replying to Ale R, wrote on Saturday, March 28:

>>2) Could we make any assumption regarding variable capital? You
>>explicitly assume that c = 0 (and then fixed capital = 0), but tell
>>us nothing about v.
> We do not need to because that doesn't determine value
> Chris

I'm not sure if I have understood what you are saying correctly. Do you
mean that there is no relationship between variable capital and living
labor? If so, how to you define variable capital?

As I understand it, living labor is the form assumed by variable capital
within the process of production. So, in that sense variable capital does
determine value. Do you agree?

Let me quote Marx to support my interpretation:

"A further difficulty is caused by the original form of the variable
capital. In our example, C' = $410 constant + $ 90 variable + $ 90
surplus-value; but $90 is a given and therefore a constant quantity and
hence it appears absurd to treat it as variable. In fact, however, the $90
variable is here merely a symbol for the process undergone by this value
the portion of the capital invested in the purchase of labour-power is a
definite quantity of objectified labour, a constant value like like the
value of the labour-power purchased. But in the process of production the
place of the $90 is taken by the labour-power which sets itself in motion,
dead labour is replaced by living labour, something stagnant by something
flowing, a constant by a variable. The result is the reproduction of v plus
an increment of v." (Capital, vol 1, p. 322, Vintage Books, chapter 9 - The
rate of surplus-value).