Pure and fading 'variable capital'

Jul 5th, 2015
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Marx's concept of 'variable capital' is appropriate to the aims of Capital I’s level of analysis. It is inadequately concretised in Capital II, Part Two (the turnover time of circulating capital). That text lacks the distinction between turnover time and wage time and so cannot grasp their opposite movements which turn 'variable capital' into a fading category.

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Pure and fading 'variable capital'a immanent critique of a core concept of Marx's and marxian theoryGeert Reuten *University of Amsterdam, Department of Economics draft 16 May 2007 [ISMT-15.c07 ]AbstractMarx's concept of 'variable capital' is appropriate to the aims of Capital Is levelof analysis. It is inadequately concretised in Capital II, Part Two (the turnovertime of circulating capital). That text lacks the distinction between turnover timeand wage time and so cannot grasp their opposite movements which turn'variable capital' into a fading category. It also lacks the category of 'capitalinvestment time'. The result is a defective rate of profit formula (Capital III).These flaws are traced to Marx's implicit inputoutput framework. Finally, thecategory of circulating capital is reconstructed, fitting both the general theoreticalsystematic of Capital and its counterpart in the balance sheet of enterprises.Key words: variable capital; circulating capital; turnover time; Marx's treatmentof timeJEL classifications: B14, B24, E11, E22*I am grateful for critical comments on earlier versions of this paper by Chris Arthur, RiccardoBell

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