Re: [OPE] devaluation and revaluation of variable capital

From: Michael Perelman (
Date: Mon Feb 11 2008 - 20:32:57 EST

My quick reading of this quote is that he is talking about an increase in relative 
surplus value.

On Tue, Feb 12, 2008 at 01:26:59AM +0100, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> > I have done so only in the obvious way that increases in relative > surplus value devalue variable capital by diminishing the number of > hours required to "produce" an hour of labor power. Is that what you > mean?
> Hi Michael;
> The issue, as it is presented, in Volume III, concerns the impact
> *for capital* of the release and tying-up of V.  Consider:
> "If wages fall, owing to a fall in the value of labour-power
> (although this may even be associated with a rise in the actual
> price of labour), a portion of the capital previously laid out as
> wages is set free. There is a release of variable capital. For
> capital that is newly invested, this has simply the effect of
> enabling it to function at an increased rate of surplus-value. 
> The same quantity of labour is set in motion with less money
> than before, and in this way the unpaid portion of labour
> is increased at the cost of the paid portion. But for capital 
> this was already invested earlier, not only does the rate of 
> surplus-value increase, but on top of this a portion of the
> capital previously laid out on wages is set free. This was formerly
> tied up and formed a portion constantly deducted from the
> proceeds of production, a portion which was laid out on wages
> and had to function as variable capital if the business was to
> proceed on the old scale. This portion now becomes available
> and can be used for new capital investment, whether to extend
> the same business or to function in another sphere of 
> production." (Penguin ed, p. 210). 
> Who, though, has presented a formal model that allows for
> inter-temporal changes in the VLP caused by the release and
> tying-up of V? For that matter, who has empirically studied
> this question?  For that matter, who has empirically studied 
> tendencies and counter-tendencies re changes in the VLP? 
> In solidarity, Jerry
> > >> I have mentioned this idea several times on the list, but Jerry> >> seems to be the only one who expressed any sympathy for it.> > Yes, we have been in broad agreement on issues related to the> > moral depreciation of *constant* capital. But, have you written> > here or elsewhere anything on "the release and tying-up of> > *variable* capital which is the result of the devaluation> > and revaluation of the elements of *variable* capital, i.e.> > the costs of reproduction of labour-power" (Vol 3, Penguin ed.,> > p. 212, emphasis added)?
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Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at
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