[OPE-L:1170] Re: Re: Re: Re: Unproductive labour income and Marxian social accounts

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Fri Sep 10 1999 - 07:16:53 EDT

Paul Cockshott wrote:

> 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
> >concerned
> >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,
> quantification
> of surplus requires valuation - yes, but that is a purely theoretical
> consideration.
> 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.


What I'm trying to say is that for an individual capitalist as well as a
theoretician, there is no way of ascertaining that there is a production of surplus
in an enterprise or a business, unless the inputs and the outputs take a
'value-form'. This is due to the social division of labor. If we take the whole of
the economy together, then of course we can ascertain the production of surplus in
physical terms without needing to express them in 'value form'. So our problem here
is that we have a total surplus for the whole economy in physical terms; however,
howmuch of it is produced by the various sectors can be only assigned in value
terms. And this is where one has to think what role labor plays in Marx's scheme.
The idea of necessary and surplus labor is important to Marx, and this distinction
could be developed prior to a theory of value. How to incorporate the notion of
exploitation in terms of labor in the relationship of physical surplus to
value-form is the crux of the transformation problem. I'm just thinking aloud as
I'm writing these lines, and I'll think more after i get some responses. Cheers,
ajit sinha

> 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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