Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Questions to Consider for Class II, February 26, 2017

Questions to Consider
Class II:  The Production of Surplus-Value and the Distinctiveness of the Capitalist Division of Labor
Sunday, February 26, 2017
All page references are to the 1976 Vintage Edition of Capital,Vol. I

Given the breadth of concepts and historical struggles that Marx analyzes in parts II through IV,  it will not be possible for this class to take up all of them.  The following questions can guide you in reading parts II through IV.  The class presentation and discussion will only focus on some of these questions. 

Part II:  The Transformation of Money into Capital

Chapter 4:  The General Formula for Capital

1.What is the valorization of value?  (pp. 252-254)

2.Why does Marx call value a “self-moving substance”?  (p. 256)

Chapter 5:  contradictions in the General Formula

1.What is surplus value?

2.Why is the exchange of commodities not a method of increasing value?  (p. 261)

Chapter 6:  The Sale and Purchase of Labor-Power

1.What does Marx mean by “labor power”?  (p. 270)
2.What does Marx mean in this passage:  “For the transformation of money into capital. . . this worker must be free in the double sense. . . “?  (p. 272)
3.How is the value of labor-power determined?  (p. 274-277)
4.Explain this sentence:  “The sphere of circulation or commodity exchange . . . is the exclusive realm of Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham.”  (p. 280)

Part III:  The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value

Chapter 7:  The Labor Process and the Valorization Process

1.What is “labor in a form in which it is an exclusively human characteristic”?   What distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees?  (pp. 283-284)
2.What distinguishes different economic epochs?  (p. 286)
3.What, from a capitalist standpoint, is the difference between individual consumption and productive consumption? (p. 290)
4.Why does Marx say that in the valorization process,  “we are no longer concerned with the quality, the character and content of the labor”? (p. 296)
5.Why does only socially necessary labor-time count towards the creation of value? (p. 296)
6.Why does Marx say that “the transformation of money into capital,  both takes place and does not take place in the sphere of  circulation ”?  (p. 302)

Chapter 8:  Constant Capital and Variable Capital

1.Why does Marx say that “the means of production can never add more value to the product than they themselves possess”?  (p. 314)
2.Define constant capital and variable capital (p. 317)

Chapter 9:  The Rate of Surplus-Value

1.What is “necessary labor” and what is the difference between it and “socially necessary labor time”?  What is “surplus labor”?  (p. 325)
2.What is the formula for the rate of surplus value? (p. 324)
3. What is the idea behind Senior’s “last hour”?
4.What is the surplus product?

Chapter 10:  The Working Day

1.Why does Marx call capital dead labor?  (p. 342)
2.Explain the distinctions that Marx draws between pre-capitalist slavery and capitalist slavery in the United States.  (p. 345)
3.Summarize the struggle for the shortening of the working day from the mid 14th century to the mid 17th century.  (pp. 375-389)
4.Summarize the struggle for the English factory legislation of 1833-1864. (p. 389-411)
5. Comment on this passage:  “In the United States of America, every independent workers’ movement was paralyzed as long as slavery disfigured a part of the republic.  Labor in the white skin cannot emancipate itself where it is branded in the black skin.” (p. 414)
6.  Comment on this passage:  “In place of the pompous catalogue of the ‘inalienable rights of man’ there steps the modest Magna Carta of the legally limited working day which at last makes clear ‘when the time which the workers sells is ended and when his own begins. “ (p. 416)

Chapter 11:  The Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value

What is the “inversion “peculiar to and characteristic of capitalist production? (p. 425)

Part IV:  The Production of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter 12:  The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value

1.What is the difference between absolute surplus value and relative surplus value?  (p. 432)
2.Why does the value of commodities stand in inverse ratio to the productivity of labor? (p. 436)

Chapter 13:  Co-operation

1.When does capitalist production only really begin? (p. 439)
2.Why is it that “even without an alteration in the method of work,  the simultaneous employment of a large number of workers produces a revolution in the objective conditions of the labor process”? (p.441)
3.What is co-operation?   Why does it represent “the creation of a new productive power which is intrinsically a collective one”? (p. 447)

Chapter 14:  The Division of Labor and Manufacture

1.What is the manufacturing period properly so called? (p. 455)
2.What are the two fundamental forms of manufacture? (p. 461)
3.What does performing constant labor of one uniform kind do to a human being? (p. 460, p. 470)
4.Why does Marx say that “the division of labor in manufacture, reacts back upon that in society, developing and multiplying it further”? (p. 473-475)
5.Who says that “to subdivide a man is to execute him?” (p. 484)
6.How does Marx contrast political economists to writers of classical antiquity, in their discussions of division of labor? (p. 486)

Chapter 15:  Machinery and Large-Scale Industry

1.How do machines abolish the role of the handicraftsman? (pp. 495-497)
2.How does the motive mechanism of the machine acquire an independent form? (p. 499, p. 503)
3. Analyze this passage:  “In manufacture,  the organization of the labor process is purely subjective:  It is a combination of specialized workers.  Large-scale industry, on the other hand, possesses in the machine system an entirely objective organization of production,  which confronts the worker as a pre-existing material condition of production.” ( p. 508)
4.How does Marx define the production of relative surplus-value?  (p. 534)
5. Comment on Marx’s description of “the automaton”  as “dead labor which dominates and soaks up living labor power.” (p. 548)
6.How does Marx respond to political economists who say that machinery which displaces workers simultaneously sets free capital adequate to employ the same number which have been displaced? (p. 565)
7.How does the development of large-scale industry affect women, children and the family?  What does Marx mean in this passage?  “However terrible and disgusting the dissolution of the old family ties within the capitalist system may appear, large-scale industry, by assigning an important part in socially organized processes of production,  outside the sphere of the domestic economy, to women, young persons and children of both sexes,  does nevertheless create a new economic foundation for a higher form of the family and of the relations between the sexes.” (pp. 620-621)
8.How does Marx view the effects of capitalist production on the environment?  (p. 637)


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