[OPE-L:1378] Determination of Value, 5

From: Andrew_Kliman (Andrew_Kliman@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu Sep 30 1999 - 12:50:27 EDT

5. Evidence from Capital

Marx's subsequent economic writings contain fewer, and typically
briefer, discussions of this issue. The reason is perhaps that he
had already worked matters out to his own satisfaction, so that he
was able to state his results compactly and without duplication of

That evidence which does exist indicates that his position
remained unchanged. First, as noted above, the chapter in Capital
I on "Constant Capital and Variable Capital" essentially
reiterates the notions of preservation and reappearance of the
value of inputs that he had developed earlier. The statement at
the end of the chapter that might seem to contradict it does not
in fact do so.

A couple of passages in this chapter also contain more explicit
suggestions that the inputs transfer their pre-production value to
the product. "[M]eans of production never transfer more value to
the product than they themselves lose during the labour process by
the destruction of their own use-value" (Marx 1977:312). "The
maximum loss of value the means of production can suffer in the
process is plainly limited by the amount of the original value
with which they entered into it [...]." A means of production
cannot "transfer any value to the product unless it possessed
value before its entry into the process" (Marx 1977:313-14). These
passages contradict the replacement cost notion. Imagine, for
instance, that a good was worthless when some of it entered
production as an input, but it has a positive value when the
output emerges. If the transfer of value depends on the input's
replacement cost, a positive sum of value will have been
transferred to the output.

At least one passage in Volume II reiterates the idea that the
value "the means of production already possessed [...] before the
production process" is the sum of value they transfer (Marx
1981a:463). And one in Volume III, resolving the commodity's value
into constant capital, variable capital, and surplus-value,
defines the constant capital portion of its value as "the value or
price at which these means of production went into the commodity's
production process" (Marx 1981b:992).

Volume III, and earlier manuscripts, also contain a good deal of
discussion of some closely related issues: the determination of
cost price, profit, and the rate of profit. There is not space to
consider these issues at any length here, so I will limit myself
to two remarks. First, I have found no evidence in these
discussions that supports the replacement cost conception of value
transfer. Second, Marx's definitions of these categories, at least
in some formulations, are explicitly temporal (see, e.g., Marx
1981b:118, 122, 128; Marx 1987:143-45; Marx 1989:318). Profit, for
instance, is defined as "the increment of value which the total
capital receives at the end of the process of production and
circulation, over and above the value it possessed before this
process of production, when it entered into it" (Marx 1991:91).
Although it does not necessarily follow that his concept of value
transfer was likewise temporal, this evidence is suggestive.

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