105comparing the production of absolute surplus labour in industrialEngland with feudal Romania: when dealing with theconcentration of capital he uses Income Tax statistics to documentthe concentration of wealth.Given the limitations of the then existing official statistics,however, it was not possible to estimate the average rate of surplus value for the whole economy. Only with the publicationof National Income statistics in the twentieth century did thisbecome practicable.It may be objected that the National Income statistics are givenin price terms not value terms, and that their use for calculating Marxian categories could be invalid. We believe such fears to beunfounded. We argue this on the grounds of dimensionalanalysis, the artificiality of the objection, and empirical validationof the concepts we use.
In what follows we will use the standard notation with the set of symbols
standing respectively for constant capital,variable capital and surplus value.If one had National Income figures in value terms, thesevariables would be measured in millions of person hours perannum. This would give them the dimension
stands for time and
for humans. Cancelling the time terms,the resulting dimension is
, or so many million people. Thismay seem unexpected, but it means that
measure thenumber of full-time person-equivalents employed on theproduction of consumer goods
, the reproduction of constantcapital
and on the production of luxuries, new capital goods,etc.
. The value variables
measure the size andactivity distribution of the workforce.The main ratios of interest —
rate of surplus value,
p' = s/(c+v)=
rate of profit on a flow basis, and
o' = c/v=
organic composition of capital — are all dimensionless numbers.For example
is of dimension
which cancels out.In the case of actual National Income figures, by appropriatechoice of categories we can arrive at a monetary estimate of
interms of £ million per annum or dimension £
. Similararguments apply to
, but computing the ratios
will again yield dimensionless numbers. Hence on purely dimensional grounds there is no contradiction in estimating these ratios from monetary magnitudes.