[OPE-L:6552] [OPE-L:18] [EDUARDO] Re: Variable Capital

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 18 May 1998 17:32:14 -0400 (EDT)

Jerry wrote:
>... since in the quote by Marx that you cite, there is no
>indication that variable capital as such exists as living labor in the
>production process. It seems to me that saying that v equals the means of
>subsistence for workers is very different from saying that v equals living
>labour itself. In the first case, v equals the money advanced to
>workers. But, the money advanced to workers is different from the workers

I disagree. I do think that in the that quotation there is
“indication that variable capital as such exists as living labor
in the production process”. Let me quote part of it again:
One part of capital, and thereby the capital in its entirety, is
transformed into a variable magnitude by the fact that instead of
money - which is a constant magnitude - or the
means of subsistence as which it may appear and which are
likewise constant magnitudes, it is exchanged for *living labour-power - a
value creating force*, something which can be smaller or greater, which can
manifest itself as a variable magnitude and which in fact always enters the
process of production as a fluctuating, developing magnitude and hence as
one contained within different limits, rather than as a magnitude
that has become fixed". (Results of the Immediate Process of Production,
In: Capital, vol. 1, Vintage Books, p. 983-984).

Moreover, in a quote that I have presented in a previous post
Marx sates that:

“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).

According to Jerry:
> Although v + c exist on the capitalists' books, what exists in
>the production process are living and dead labour.
>From this perspective c + v appear at the beginning of a circuit
>of capital but they are transformed into labour-power and means of
>production during the production process.

Eduardo comments:

But living labor is not labor power. Capital is not (and, in capitalism,
cannot) be transformed into labor power. As I have argued in my post to
Juryman, the worker only rents the use-value of his commodity (i.e., labor)
to the capitalist; he remains the owner of his commodity throughout the
reproduction process. Because of this, v never appears as a asset in the
capitalists’ books, it only appears as “expenses (I’m not sure about the
bookkeeping nomenclature in english)”. In this is respect, the sale of LP
is similar to borrowed money capital or to the rent of a industrial
It seems to me that our disagreement relates to what means the purchase of
LP by the capitalist: if I have understood you correctly, you are saying
that the purchase of LP implies into the transformation of money into LP.
What I’m saying is that with the purchase of LP the capitalist obtains the
right to the use-value of the commodity LP. I think that the quotation I
have presented above substantiate my interpretation