[OPE-L:1169] Re: Re: Re: Unproductive labour income and Marxian social accounts

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Sep 10 1999 - 04:43:03 EDT

At 11:57 10/09/99 +0530, Ajit Sinha wrote:
>I agree with a lot you say here but some I'm not very clear about. The way
>i see it
>is that there are two issues Marx's value theory is concerned with. One is the
>social division of labor, and the other is the production of surplus. The
>contribution to the Critique and the 1st chapter of *Capital* vol.1 are
>with the problem of value in the context of a social division of labor in a
>commodity producing economy. Here the *law of value* and the determination
>of value
>are supposed to solve the problem of the distribution of total labor. But this
>problematic gets in conflict with the surplus production problematic
>because the
>division of labor problematic must begin with a notion of *given* total
>amount of
>labor that needs to be distributed, whereas the surplus problematic is
>about the
>determination of the total amount of labor itself--so it cannot be taken as
>*given*. Now, if we begin with the surplus problematic then the rationale
>for value
>and a theory of value arises because the surplus itself cannot be measured
>in any
>particular sector without reducing all commodities to one dimension. Thus
>a theory
>of value thrust itself as a solution to the determination of the surplus.
>This is
>why, I think, Marx says that surplus production must take a value-form in a
>capitalist system. Cheers, ajit sinha
Do you really mean your last sentence. From a theoretical point of view,
of surplus requires valuation - yes, but that is a purely theoretical
That the surplus primarily appears as monetary profit in a capitalist economy
depends however not on theoretical considerations - which would apply equally
to a non-capitalist economy, but on the prior historical extension of commodity
production - the commuting of labour rents, corvee, robot etc into monetary
rents, the monetisation of the surplus of the slave mode of production in
the colonies etc.

I don't think that Marx actually ever says that the surplus production
'must' take
a value form in a capitalist system. He starts out from the observation that
monetary profits exist, and seeks to explain them in a way consistent with a
labour theory of value.

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