[OPE-L:6453] Re: Variable capital and the determination of value

Francisco P.Cipolla (cipolla@tamandua.sociais.ufpr.br)
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 16:14:05 -0300 (EST)

To define living labor as variable capital, as Eduardo does, is
equivalent to deny the
existence of surplus value for in that case you would be paying for the
whole living labor acquired. Besides, IMO, variable capital, as a
value paid for the labor power, is a fixed magnitude. What makes it
variable is not a change of form, from money-capital to
productive-capital. This change of form also happens to that part of money
capital converted in means of production, and this does not transform that
part of capital into variable capital. What makes it variable is the
nature of the commodity bought: a commodity whose use is actual labor.
By virtue of buying labor-power,
that fixed magnitude acquires the right to an amount of labor more
than sufficient to produce the equivalent to what the worker needs in
order to renew its capacity to work.
In vol II (International Publishers) pg. 27 Marx says: "...the purchase of
labor power represents a contract of purchase which stipulates for the
delivery of a quantity of labor in excess of that need to replace the
price of labor-power; hence delivery of surplus value..."
I have not seen any reasoning developed by Marx which may indicate the
notion that actual living labor is variable capital.
I realize as I write that the argument is not well thought out, but
regarding the idea that living labor=variable capital I must say that all
my inner instincts were mobilized against thinking this way.
Paulo Cipolla