Value Theory (2): TSS Paradigm (Corrected)

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Mon Mar 5 05:18:17 MST 2001

I had written:

Period  C (hrs) L(hrs)  X(hrs) ROP [(X-C)/C]

1       50      10      60      0.200
2       60      12      72      0.200
3       72      15      88      0.222
4       88      20      108     0.227


  X for period 3 and C for period 4 should be 87 (15+72!); this raises
the profit rate to .230 in period 4, so the argument remains the same:

  As long as you assume that v=0 or that workers live on air, the TSS
interpretation may not be able to demonstrate a falling rate of
profit since with the increase in the physical quantity of the means
of production, the quantity of labor and surplus labor which is
absorbed in each period should increase, as Marx himself underlined.

Of course you may object that while more labor will be absorbed in
each period, it will not increase commensurately with the physical
quantity of the input means of production--that is, there will be a
rising technical composition of capital.

At any rate, let's allow the physical ratio of C to L increase
incrementally from 10:10 or 1:1 in the first period (I don't show
here your table in which the physical quantities are laid out); in
the second period we will have 12:11; then 15:13; and finally 20:17.

Period  C (hrs) L(hrs)  X(hrs) ROP [(X-C)/C]

1       50      10      60      0.200
2       60      11      71      0.183
3       71      13      84      0.183
4       84      17      101     0.202

Again there is no trend for the decline in the rate of profit as long
as we keep your methodological assumption that variable capital (or
v) can be held at zero and workers thus imagined to live on air.

Even if we assume that variable capital is 1/2 of L or in other words
the rate of exploitation is 100% and thus the rate of profit is
calculated as (X-C)/(C+V), we still don't get a clear trend towards a
falling rate of profit in this four period model.

And the reason remains the same: the greater physical quantity of
means of production allows more labor to be absorbed in each period.

But there is another problem:  even if the rate of profit were to
fall from .200 to .183 or below, the mass of profit (X-C) would
nonetheless continue to grow as a result of the increasing scale of

So why would the system grind to a halt if the mass of profit
continues to grow in absolute terms? In other words, why would
capitalists cease to accumulate  in the face of a slowly declining
profit rate since  they are extracting ever larger sums of profit--
there seems to be enough profit for further accumulation, as well as
their own consumption demands (though of course you assume that
capitalists live on air as well!)

Yours, Rakesh

ps I think it repays the effort to check on what Henryck Grossmann
said about such objections...

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