[OPE-L:6418] Re: RE: Variable capital and the determination of value

Eduardo Maldonado Filho (eduardo@orion.ufrgs.br)
Sun, 5 Apr 1998 21:15:07 -0300

This is a reply to Chris's post of Tuesday, March 31:

Chris, on commenting on Marx's quotation, states that

> This is consistent with what I said. The $90 disappears and the
>production of value is determined by the living labour in motion. It is
>especially important methodologically not to read C=c+v+s in a Smithian
>way according to which the value of a commodity is determined as the sum
>the returns to factors. The new value is determined already prior to it
>split into v and s in distribution.
> Probably you agree with all this Eduardo so the misunderstanding is
> probably semantic.

You are right, I do agree with you on this. In fact, when teaching
political Economny courses, instead of writing C=c+v+s I write it as
C=c+(v+s) in order to avoid a Smithian reading of the equation.

However, when Chris writes that

>I agree with the first sentence [i.e., living labor is the form assumed by
>variable capital within the process of production] not with the second
> [i.e., So, in that sense variable capital does determine value.]

I do not understand. If you agree that living labor is the form assumed by
variable capital within the production process, then I do not understand
why you disagree with the conclusion: that variable capital, which exist
within the production process as living labor, determines the new value
incorporated into the commodity capital. Perhaps, as you said, it is only a
semantic misunderstanding.

But, maybe, we may have a real disagrement in relation to the understanding
of the concept of variable capital. If you consider variable capital only
in the sense of money wages (or, alternatively, as the quantity of means of
substance which is purchased with the money wages), but not as living labor
within the production process; then there is a genuine disagreement between
us. In that case, our disageement on the concept of variable capital will
also show up later on not only in relation to the understanding of the
concept of composition of capital, but also, for example, in the analysis
of the effects of price (value) change on the circuit of industrial

So I am unsure if our disagreement is but semantic misunderstanding.