Re: [OPE-L] Theoretical/empirical error in Marx in converting surplus value into additional capital?

From: fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU
Date: Sat Jul 28 2007 - 11:16:38 EDT


Quoting Paul Zarembka <zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU>:

>> Employing surplus-value as capital, reconverting it into capital, is
>> called accumulation of capital. First let us consider this transaction
>> from the standpoint of the individual capitalist. Suppose a spinner to
>> have advanced a capital of 10,000, of which four-fifths (8,000) are
>> laid out in cotton, machinery, &c., and one-fifth (2,000) in wages. Let
>> him produce 240,000 lbs. of yam annually, having a value of 2,000. The
>> rate of surplus-value being 100%, the surplus-value lies in the surplus
>> or net product of 40,000 lbs. of yarn, one-sixth of the gross product,
>> with a value of 2,000 which will be realised by a sale. (...) In order
>> to convert this additional sum of 2,000 into capital, the master-spinner
>> will, ALL CIRCUMSTANCES REMAINING AS BEFORE, advance four-fifths of it
>> (1,600) in the purchase of cotton, &c., and one-fifth (400) in the
>> purchase of additional spinners, who will find in the market the
>> necessaries of life whose value the master has advanced to them. (...)


Paul, I think the answer to your puzzle is that this is a hypothetical
example that is not intended to be realistic.  This is a theoretical
point.  Why should the numerical example have to be realistic?

The main question of this Section 1 of Chapter 24 is the source of the
capitalist's capital (the M in M-C etc.).  Marx says on the next page
that, even if we accept that the source of the original 10,000 is the
capitalist's own labor and abstinence, the source of the additional
2,000 that is accumulated is clear:  the surplus labor of workers in
the previous period.  This is the "age-old custom of the conquerer who
purchases goods from the conquered with money he has stolen from them".
  (I am out of town and am quoting roughly from memory).  And Marx goes
on to argue that over time the surplus-value accumulated is the much
greater share of the capital invested.  Therefore what appeared
initially (in Chapter 6) as an "equal exchange" between capitalists and
workers is now shown to be the opposite:  not only does the worker have
to reproduce his wage and also produce surplus-value for the
capitalist, but the wage itself is shown to result from the
exploitation of workers in previous periods.

This point does not require that Marx's numerical example be realistic.
I don't see the problem.

Comradely,
Fred

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