Subject: [OPE-L:1838] Re: value-form theories
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sat Dec 04 1999 - 22:39:11 EST
Re Fred's [OPE-L:1836]:
> Jerry, you seem to be agreeing that, at least so far in their work, R&W
> do not provide a quantitative theory of the magnitude of surplus-value.
> Would you argue nonetheless, that their theory is CAPABLE of providing
> such a quantitative theory, but just haven't done it yet. If so, then
> would you (or someone) please sketch out for us how such a quantitative
> theory of surplus-value could be developed on the basis of R&W's
> value-form theory. And if not, would you not agree that this is a serious
> shortcoming in a theory of capitalism?
For R-W, surplus value is constituted on the market (i.e. it has its
origins in the "intersection" of production and circulation) and is
expressed only through the value-form. Thus abstract-labour can only be
quantified, from their perspective, through prices.
So I think that R-W *are* "CAPABLE" of producing a quantitative theory of
surplus value, but is a theory which does not connect what you call (in
[OPE-L:1830]) the substance of value (abstract labor) and the form of
appearance of value (as money or price) with the magnitude of value
(SNLT). Thus I don't think the issue is whether they are capable of
providing a quantitative theory of surplus value, but is rather whether
their conception of value is more or less satisfactory than that presented
> Surplus-value is by its nature a
> magnitude. If a theory cannot explain this magnitude, then one cannot
> explain one of the essential features of surplus-value. Marx's theory
> does provide a theory of the magnitude of surplus-value, and in this
> sense, is superior to any other theory that cannot provide such an
For R-W the magnitude of value can be expressed only through money
(=abstract labor). What I think is at issue here is whether such a
perspective can be able to adequately explain *exploitation*. Relatedly,
there is the issue of the role of paid labor time + unpaid labor time and
necessary labor + surplus labor to a theory of exploitation. This, of
course, is of great significance for other subjects as well, e.g. the
*source of profit*.
I think the above presents how I view this question so an answer to some
of your other questions now seem redundant and/or unnecessary.
In solidarity, Jerry
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