John R. Ernst
ernst at pipeline.com
Tue Nov 7 18:58:35 MST 1995
In Outbox: Your outgoing mail ernst said:
On "Matt D." <afn02065 at afn.org> said:
>James Miller wrote:
>>PRODUCTIVITY AND TECHNICAL COMP. OF CAPITAL
>> John asks: "Does the technical composition
>>of capital increase faster, slower, or at the
>>same pace as productivity in Marx's notion of
>> The technical composition of capital is a
>>function of the various technological innovations
>>that are instituted in the production process.
>>The long-term impact of all innovations is to
>>increase the ratio of the physical mass of the
>>means of production to the living labor which
>>functions in production.
>If you'll allow a question from a novice -- and this
>may be so uninteresting the no one cares to reply,
>which is fine -- isn't the long term trend of the
>increasing organic composition of capital a question
>of value ratios rather than physical mass? Or
>at least isn't physical mass a secondary aspect
>of the question?
>-- Matt D.
I suppose we could get into the manner in which the
technical and value compostions of captital may or
may not be related, but that would be dodging my point
in asking the question. In the good old days we used
to say that a necessary condition for a fall in the rate
of profit was for the capital inputs to increase faster
than the outputs. Note that if any commodity used
as an input has the same value as it does as an output,
then the necessary condition is fulfilled if the inputs
are increasing faster than the outputs.
As I said, this was the old way of doing things. What
is somewhat clear is that for Marx from the material
side, inputs do not grow as fast as outputs; whereas
from the value side the opposite is the case. This way
of viewing Marx (a) makes him a bit more interesting,
(b) makes his work more puzzling, and (c) means that
there is a point to working with values.
John R. Ernst
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