[OPE-L:6556] [OPE-L:21] Re: Variable Capital

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 18 May 1998 20:36:48 -0400 (EDT)

[From Eduardo]

Jurriaan, in his post of 6/05/98, wrote:

>Eduardo writes:

>>4) In sum, variable capital exists initially in money form
>>($90), then it is transformed - through the purchase of LP (i.e., the
>>rental of the use value of LP) - into living labor. By existing as living
>>within the production process, it incorporates a new value into the
>>commodity capital produced. The magnitude of variable capital at time t +
>>h (which exists as part of the value of the commodity capital produced)
>>is $180, but $90 represent a reproduction of the value originally
>>and the other portion ($90) represent the excess or surplus-value.

>This interpretation sounds plausible enough. However, as I have
>tried to point out, the value of $180 pertains to the NEW VALUE PRODUCT,
>labour, or living labour power which increases in value, but the assets of
>the capitalist (although one might argue that work experience can
>increase the value of labor-power in a FUTURE wage contract). The
>augmentation of capital occurs through the materialisation of living
>labour in the new product.

Eduardo comments:

I do agree that $180 “pertains to the new value product” and not
to living labor. As Marx’s has pointed out several times, labor
is but the use value of the commodity labor power and therefore
it has no value.

Jurriaan wrote:
>... from the point of view of capitalist production labour-power
>becomes simply a "component >of capital", an "asset" i.e. the
>labour force functions as a component of capital.

Eduardo writes:

Labor power never becomes a component of capital, only its
use-value (labor) becomes so. The worker rents the use-value of
its commodity to the capitalist but he remains, throughout the
circuit of industrial capital, the proprietary of the commodity
labor power.

Jurriaan wrote:
>But this is not quite the same thing that Eduardo suggested
>earlier, namely that the variable capital ITSELF had increased in
>magnitude. If
>variable capital "ceases to exist as living labor", as Eduardo says, it
>is no longervariable capital.

Eduardo answers

(Latent) variable capital existed initially in money form (and as
such its value is constant), then it is transformed into living
labor (which is the use-value of the commodity LP). As living
labor it then “becomes the really variable portion of capital”
(Marx). This labor is then incorporated into the commodity
capital produced (realized variable capital). It is from this
perspective that I’m saying that (LATENT) VARIABLE CAPITAL, $80,
has increased in magnitude (it has create a new value of $180,
half of it represents only the reproduction of the value of LP
and the other half the surplus-value). But it should be noted, as
I have explained above, that I’m not saying that LABOR POWER
ITSELF has increased in value. On the contrary, I’m assuming that
the value of LP is unchanged.