1. Marx Questions
In chapters 4, 5, and 6, Marx is trying to understand where “surplus” and “profit” come from. He first looks for its origins within the laws of the market – the place where we go to exchange commodities, and the place where supply and demand get resolved in terms of “price”. Our goal in class will be to understand how he finds the origin of “surplus” and “profit”, and then to understand what his finding means in terms of Adam Smith’s “self-interest” and Hayek’s “freedom and independence”. To help the class get there, answer and be prepared to discuss the following:
a. In chapters 4 and 5, Marx argues that there is a contradiction in the general formula of capital.
i. What is the general formula?
ii. What is the difference between “use value” and “exchange value”?
iii. What is surplus value?
i.v. What is the contradiction in the general formula?
b. In Chapter 6, Marx tries to discover how surplus value is produced? To get there Marx develops a number of concepts.
i. What is labor power?
ii. Is labor power a commodity that is owned?
iii. Who owns labor power?
iv. What is the unique characteristic of labor power?
v. How does the discovery of labor power help Marx solve his initial riddle that he, in chapter 5, defines as “the contradiction in the general formula”? Or, asked differently, what is “the secret to profit making”?
2. Harvey Questions
- What is “production”? What is being produced?
- What is “realisation”? What is being realised?
- What is the contradiction between these two points?
- On pg. 82, Harvey states, “The contradiction between production and realisation can, however, be mitigated in a number of ways.” Describe some of the ways that we can mitigate the contradictions that can arise between the production phase of capital accumulation, and the realization phase of capital accumulation.
- On pg 83, Harvey states, “There are a number of secondary contradictions that attach to the production–realisation relationship.” Describe some of these secondary contradictions.