Sixteenth note on Moseley’s “Money and Totality”

by Jehu

So, I have a question that, perhaps, Professor Moseley can answer for me:

Leaving aside the value of the means required for its production, in simple commodity production the socially necessary labor time required for the production of a commodity — say, a pair of shoes — would be expressed in its money price, in the exchange value with which the commodity is purchased in the market.  If this labor time was eight hours, the price of the commodity would more or less be a sum of money that likewise required eight hours to produce.

What the producer sells is not his labor, but a commodity. If this commodity required eight hours to produce, the price of the commodity (with supply and demand at equilibrium) would require a sum of money equal to eight hours.

For the wage worker it is otherwise: the worker creates a pair of shoes with a value of eight hours, but receives in return for this labor a sum of money embodying only four hours of labor. Although the quantity of labor going into the shoes is eight hours, the worker receive for his labor only four hours.

In simple commodity production, the value of the shoes is equal to the eight hours of labor required for their production. In capitalistic commodity production, however, the value of the shoes is eight hours; yet the value of the labor power going into the production of the shoes is only four hours. In simple commodity production and exchange, the producer expends eight hours of socially necessary labor time and receives for his product eight hours in return. In capitalistic commodity production, the wage worker expends eight hours of socially necessary labor time and receives for his labor power only four hours.

In other words, the capitalist is withdrawing four hours of value in one form from the circulation of commodities and later adding eight hours of value in another form to the circulation of commodities.

Question: To whom is the additional four hours of value being sold? We know the worker herself only accounts for four hours of value and therefore has only four hours of exchange value to spend. But the capitalist realizes eight hours — the four hours of exchange value paid to the worker, plus an additional four hours of surplus value.

According to Moseley, since the circuit of capital begins with some quantity of money, there is no conversion of values into capitalistic prices of production. So, where did the means of exchange to realize this additional four hours of value come from? Or, to put this simply, how does this surplus value acquire a price in the market?

According to Marx’s theory, the conditions for the production of surplus value require only four hours of socially necessary labor time, yet the conditions for realization of the surplus value requires eight hours of socially necessary labor time. Where do the additional four hours of socially necessary labor time required for realization of the surplus value come from?

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