[OPE-L:7195] [OPE-L:713] Re: Re: Market Values and Market Prices

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Sat, 20 Mar 1999 12:52:07 -0500 (EST)

John, one of the problems I had with the passage is Marx's argument that a
slower depreciation of machinery implies that "the fixed constant capital
are increased as against the variable." I tried to figure out how he could
come to this apparent conclusion.

You also ask:

>1. What is "antiquated" fixed capital?

Antiquated fixed capital would a machine the continuing use of which to
produce a given level of output requires more labor than the labor required
to construct and operate a new machine to produce the same level of output.

The new machine may not be assimilated due to an insufficiency of surplus
value or due to fact that since capital only pays for labor power, not
direct labor time as a whole, the saving in direct labor enabled by the new
machine is not sufficiently profitable for capital to assimilate.

This is part of Marx's theory of how capitalism comes to fetter the
development of the productive forces.

>3. To argue against Brenner, you introduce the notion of an increase in the
>labor force in Dept. 1 and a consequent increase in the mass of surplus value.
>But does not the very process Brenner suggests shorten the lifetime of fixed
>capital? Moral depreciation, in his scenario, is increases. With that
>increase there is the possibility that the introduction of new techniques
>becomes foolhardy in the eyes of the capitalist.

I don't think it is that simple. To the loss from the moral depreciation or
technogical obsolence of old machines, you must add the surplus value
gained from the addition of labor in dept to produce those new machines
with the means of production already available there. Marx seems to derive
falling profitability more from the inability of dept I to continue to
absorb labor due to the slower turnover of fixed capital than from the
losses on old machines once new ones are introduced. Again, I think this
passage raises several problems

Yours, Rakesh