[OPE-L:1879] Re: value-form theories

Subject: [OPE-L:1879] Re: value-form theories
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Thu Dec 09 1999 - 20:58:27 EST

In [OPE-L:1872], Andy wrote:

> (snip) - it's been a while since I read R&W - but my vague
> memory is that R&W *do* end up arguing that abstract labour time
> determines the magnitude of surplus value. They use the argument that
> labour power is not produced as a commodity.

I'm not sure where you get this from, Andy. In their book there is
surprisingly little reference to anything about surplus value. Indeed, in
the subject index, we see:

         "surplus value 61, 81; rate of 121; tendency to rise 104"

The two references are as follows:

         "As inputs and outputs are necessarily reduced to value as a
          common denominator, this social-universal form is the driving
          force of the enterprise. More precisely, the external driving
          force is a surplus of value above the value intitially laid out
          (that is, profit)" (61)

Note that there is the explicit identification of surplus value with
profit whereas in Marx's theory surplus-value must be *transformed* into

         "Thus we have

            M => C [MP, LP] ... P ... C' => M' etc.

         In short M => M' and so on. Were all surplus value (M' minus M)
         to be consumed unproductively then the 'circuit' would merely be
         reproduced. The continuous expansion of the circuit, M => M' =>
         M'' and so on via the accumulation of surplus value requires
         growth of the labour power input - from outside the circuit
         itself. (Means of production are produced in the circuit.) It
         also requires the expansion in some way of money." (81)

Note that surplus value is simply identified here as the increment of
money over and above the original quantity of M. No mention of surplus
labor time (or necessary labor time) and unpaid labor time (or paid labor

Note also the expression "accumulation of surplus value".

The reference to the rate of surplus value (121) appears in the context of
a presentation of the TRPF.

In the last page cited in the subject index there is a brief discussion of
*ideal surplus value* (and *ideal profit*). The presentation starts with
the following:

         "Accumulation of capital generates an increasing amount of ideal
          surplus value s, defined as s = (m-w)I (where m is the ideal
          money expression of labour, w the wage rate and I social
          aggregate labour). The term 'ideal' refers to as yet
          unvalidated entities" (104)

This will remind many listmembers of a discussion that we had some time
back (Spring, 1998 ?) on "ideal value".

I think that the category of ideal value means that, in their theory, the
magnitude of surplus value can only be calculated (and known) _ex post_ as

In solidarity, Jerry

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