Keen/Ernst Discussion

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Tue Oct 17 21:05:07 MDT 1995


Steve K. wrote:
> Now what is happening here is that:
>
  (A) Marx is countenancing the possibility that technical
> change can increase the rate of surplus value, s/v.
>
So what else is new? Marx is very clear in Vol. 3 that the rate of
surplus value, especially due to increases in relative surplus value via
technological change, will increase.
>
> Now if increasing the ratio c/(c+v) can result in the
> ratio s/v also rising, then there is no tendency for
> the rate of profit s/(c+v) to fall! That tendency only
> exists if s/v remains constant:
>
> "the gradual growth of constant capital in relation to
> variable capital muust necessarily lead to *a gradual fall in
> the general rate of profit*, so long as the rate of
> surplus-value, ... remain (sic) the same." (Capital Vol
> III, p. 212)

NO! NO! NO! Keep reading -- go on to read the next two chapters in Vol.
3. If one considers value in linear and formal terms, then Steve is
correct. Yet, Marx considered that the *same* process that leads to the
"law of the tendency for the general rate of profit to decline" *ALSO*
leads to a *increase* in the rate of surplus value.

For those people schooled in mathematical economics the above will seem
incomprehensible. Those who concentrate on the formulas will never see
the processes that Marx is describing. Like so many other questions, this
question boils down to differences in method -- formal vs. dialectical.

Jerry


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