More Various

John R. Ernst ernst at pipeline.com
Wed Nov 15 21:36:03 MST 1995


Jim, 
 
 
Jim, 
 
Having responded to your "various" in the section 
revering to me, I read the section concerning the 
GRUNDRISSE. 
 
You state: 
 
The question of how rapidly the machine's value passes into 
the product of labor depends on how quickly it wears out. The 
long-term technical trend under capitalism is toward more 
and more durable machines. Initially, many machines had 
wooden components. These gave way to iron and steel. Now 
machine construction incorporates a lot of exotic alloys 
designed to maximize wear resistance and rapidity of motion. 
Thus modern machinery will pass only small amounts of value 
to the product per hour, or per unit of product, in contrast 
to machines of the past.  
 
John says: 
 
You seem to be ignoring what Juan and I are talking -- 
"moral depreciation."  How fast a machine wears out is 
not solely a function of its physical characteristics. 
As Marx points out, there is also the matter of "moral 
depreciation."  Machines, plant, and equipment are  
considered scrap not when they wear out physically but  
when they are no longer economically useful or, put 
simply, profitable.  In capitalism, the vast majority 
of fixed capital is considered useless long before it 
is physically useless.   
 
To be sure, as machinery operates at higher and higher 
speeds physical durability is an increasing requirement. 
It's not clear to me that this prolongs its economic  
life span.  
 
In orthodoxy, 
 
John 


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