[OPE-L:4248] Re: variable capital and time

Paul Cockshot (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 11:02:25 -0800 (PST)

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I think that you are getting yourselves into a whole pile
of nonsense with no bearing on the real world with
such questions.

They are entirely an artifact of the modeling process,
which introduces the arbitrary construct of a 'production
period'. There is no such thing when considering society
as a whole.

The appropriate formalism is in terms of continuous flows
and the differential calculus.

> From: Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu>
> To: Multiple recipients of list <ope-l@anthrax.ecst.csuchico.edu>
> Subject: [OPE-L:4244] variable capital and time
> Date: 21 February 1997 00:43
> Alejandro R wrote in [OPE-L:4242]:
> > (2) What would be the specification for variable capital?
> > I think the reasoning cannot be the same as constant capital. It is
> > true that constant capital consumed in t+1 must be produced before,
> > during period t.
> > But we could imagine that at the start of t+1 capitalists hired fresh
> > labour power. In this moment, capitalists need not the PHYSICAL WAGE
> > GOODS available (as they need machines) but only living labor. So at
> > the end of t+1 workers are paid with money and then they purchase
> > wage goods which have been produced DURING t+1. Is not the same
> > situation than that of machines used, which had been produced during
> > period t. Am I right?
> In the above, you suggest that workers are paid money at the _end of the
> period_ for labor performed _during_ the period. I have a problem with
> that formulation. Expenditures on variable capital and constant
> circulating capital (which we might call together, "fluid capital",
> following Marx's distinction in V2, Ch. 8) are allocated at _various_
> points _during_ the period rather than only at the end (or beginning) of
> the period.
> For example, if we follow the usual convention of thinking of a period as
> 1 year, reproduction of the wage-earners would be impossible to conceive
> even abstractly for those workers who are hired at the beginning of a
> but are not paid until the end of a year! What do they survive on
> the year? This suggests to me that periodic wage payments during the
> year (period) are a consequence of the special nature of the commodity
> labor-power.
> [Perhaps we could be able to conceptualize this as the turnover time for
> v (and, relatedly, circulating c)?].
> Of course, working periodic payments for variable capital and constant
> circulating capital into the math formulas would make matters much more
> complicated (mathematically). Perhaps we can be able to agree, though,
> in considering c + v "time matters." Does that make me a "temporalist"?
> :-)
> In solidarity, Jerry