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Old 05-01-2003, 06:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Help with Karl Marx's theory of "The Production of Surplus Value"

Hey guys, has anyone ever studied any of Marx's theory? in particular his theory of "The Production of Surplus Value"? I found his book online, and found the section that deals with this theory (Capital, Volume I, Part III, Chapter VII, Section 1 and 2)
here is the link
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...67-c1/ch07.htm

the problem is, after reading it over and over, i just don't get what he is trying to say, or what his point is.

Can anyone give me a brief summery or gimme some clues into understanding what his theory is stating?

Thanks, your help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-01-2003, 06:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I didn't read it, but in general, this is how every Marx theory works: (I can't remember the names of the groups, so bear with me) at the top are the business owners, and at the bottom are the workers. His whole idea is that the business owners exploit the workers and use every establishment (be it religion, media, whatever) to make them believe that they are supposed to conform. The workers have hope that they will become the business owners, but it rarely, if ever, happens. The workers become very passive and are like sheep, being led around by what they are told from the varying establishments. The ideals in his social conflict theories generally follow this pattern. Look for something along these lines in the article.
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Old 05-01-2003, 06:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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hey, thanks for the tip spectre.
I will keep that in mind as I read through more Marx theories.
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Old 05-01-2003, 08:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by spectre
I didn't read it, but in general, this is how every Marx theory works: (I can't remember the names of the groups, so bear with me) at the top are the business owners, and at the bottom are the workers. His whole idea is that the business owners exploit the workers and use every establishment (be it religion, media, whatever) to make them believe that they are supposed to conform. The workers have hope that they will become the business owners, but it rarely, if ever, happens. The workers become very passive and are like sheep, being led around by what they are told from the varying establishments. The ideals in his social conflict theories generally follow this pattern. Look for something
along these lines in the article.
spectre,

You might be right, but I believe that the ideas behind his thread is from Marx's book,Communist Manifesto. I think his question might come from Das Capital, his book dealing with economics. I have never read Das Capital , but I have read Communist Manifesto.
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Old 05-01-2003, 08:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ReggErving
spectre,

You might be right, but I believe that the ideas behind his thread is from Marx's book,Communist Manifesto. I think his question might come from Das Capital, his book dealing with economics. I have never read Das Capital , but I have read Communist Manifesto.
Could be, but like I said, I didn't read the article. I was just giving some insight into how Marx generally views things. Just giving him ideas on what to look out for.
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Old 05-01-2003, 09:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Stuff can be depressing when you read it, the way Marx talks about the elite staying the elite and the concentration of wealth is limited in distrubtion.
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Old 05-01-2003, 11:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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lol i suppose somebody's gonna look at me for this, well, ill have a look at what you asked later if you like, it's 8am and i haven't slept yet so ill catch you after im... "normal" again (whatever that is)
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Old 05-02-2003, 07:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi!

Im not an expert, but I read "Das Kapital" some time ago. As far as I remember "surplus value" is simply profit that is made by employers only because they own the means of production.

Lets say a shoemaker sells his shoes for 20 Euro each pair. The material cost 10 Euro which leaves 10 Euro for, i dont know, 2 hours of work or so.

Now imagine a modern shoe-factory where each employee produces 100 shoes in the same time. Of course they are not payd 100 times more than the shoemaker, but only maybe 10 Euros/h. Still the shoes are sold for lets say 15 Euro each pair.

So "surplus value" or "Mehrwert" is the additional profit that employers make due to enhanced productivity (i.e. automization).

I hope that helped and my English makes any sense to you.

Last edited by harry; 05-02-2003 at 01:34 PM..
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Old 05-02-2003, 07:19 AM   #9 (permalink)
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harry... that's pretty much the way I read it.
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Old 05-02-2003, 10:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I struggled through it as well and Harry seems to have the gist of it.

Of course, I'm not an economics major and fancy language confuses me
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Old 05-02-2003, 12:37 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by spectre
I can't remember the names of the groups, so bear with me
bourgeoisie - The buisness owners

proletariat - The working class
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Old 05-02-2003, 04:26 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Chug

I haven't read the article (I am about to), but have done a little Marx.

Basically (and please feel free to correct me here anyone):
- A normal company should make enough money to pay for the costs of production (wages, materials, investment, fixed overheads etc.)
- But the capitalist bourgeoisie scum (sorry, got carried away there) aren't interested in just that. Oh no, they want profits (or supernormal profits, I forget which).
- There are essentially three ways that you can make profit:
1. Charge a 'fake' value for your goods (a shoe has inputs to the value of $x and you charge $x+1).
2. Have a technological advantage over competition that saves you money (you charge $x like everyone else, but your costs are $x-1)
3. You do not pay the workers the full amount of their value added to the product (i.e. a worker contributes $y of input into the product, but you pay them $y-2). This 2 is the surplus value.
- Marx argues that fake values and technology advantages do not (or rarely) exist. The real source of profit is stealing surplus value.

Example
Shoe production requires $15 for materials, $10 for fixed costs (rent, lighting etc.), $2 for the owner's wage and $1 for the workers wage. Total: $28.
The shoe is sold for $30.
But where has the extra $2 come from?
The answer isn't that you are charging a fake value. The shoe really does have $30 worth of inputs. The answer is that the workers in fact contributed $3 worth of labour, but were paid for just $1 worth. The other inputs have unambigious market values and the owner wouldn't underpay himself. So the reason that the owner ends up with $2 of wages and $2 of profit is that they have exploited the workers by taking the surplus value.

I will read the article and edit this post to change bits which might be incorrect or add clarifiers.
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Last edited by 4thTimeLucky; 05-02-2003 at 04:30 PM..
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Old 05-02-2003, 06:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hey guys, thanks for the summaries and the definations.
It was a big really help.

Thank you!
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Old 05-03-2003, 09:51 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Its so sad that no matter how well it works on paper that communism just dosn't work. Thats what we all forget to.. despite how it ended up going Marx DID have high hopes when he came up with Marxism
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Old 05-03-2003, 10:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I studied the three volumes of Das Kapital and the 3 volumes of Theories of Surplus Value during my teenage years independently. They contain the most incisive analyses of capitalism ever attempted.
Marx was a brilliant economic analyst but an impoverished and naive visionary. Engels was similarly disposed.
Because of his genius in analyzing capitalism and its workings, his value judgements (that are the real subtext of the works) were taken seriously. Value judgements are like bowel movements - everyone makes them.

There's no way to study something but to read the original texts with additional resources available. Good luck.

Of course, the exact sort of info you are looking for is available via an Internet search.
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Old 05-03-2003, 10:32 AM   #16 (permalink)
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We could do with your knowledge on the "Marxism, Communism and Socialism" thread.
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Old 05-03-2003, 10:58 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My knowledge is difficult to extract - it issues in fits and starts - and most of it will die with me - as is normal.

The Internet, However, gives freely of its treasure of all the world's collective knowledge. The breadth and depth of expert knowledge available on the Net dwarfs my small mind and can be accessed without dealing with my human pettiness or didacticism.

I listed a few good links in that thread, just now.
thanks...
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