[OPE-L:2357] Re: RE: RE: Re: Re: value-form theories

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Sat Feb 12 2000 - 15:01:35 EST

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> Paul wrote:
>>>> All societies, including socialist or communist ones must have a
>>>> for regulating the distribution of labour into different concrete
>>>> activities.
>> >>Why does this not make sense?
>Michael wrote:
>>> It does, but 'abstract labour' is an element of the specifically
>>> (specific) labour allocation mechanism.
>Paul replied:
> >Yes but from that it does not follow that abstract labour does not
>>exist in other modes of production. If we stick with the dichotomy that
>>used of abstract versus concrete labour, the labour that non capitalist
>>societies distribute between concrete activities is clearly not itself
>>concrete, so under the dichotomy concrete/abstract it must be
>>When GOSPLAN were deciding how the 20 million increase in the
>>labour force anticipated in the next 5 year plan was to be distributed
>>they were doing calculations in terms of abstract labour, in the sense
>>that prior to deciding how it was to be allocated, its concrete form
>>had not been determined.

>Michael interjects:
>That is not the sense in which VFT uses 'abstract labour'. Specifically, it
>is not just some formless mush waiting to be realized as 'concrete'-specific
>Paul C continued:
>>As you say, 'abstract labour' is an element of the specifically capitalist
> >(specific) labour allocation mechanism, but it is also an element of the
>>specifically socialist labour allocation mechanism.
>Michael W. suggests:
>That it may be time to just agree that we use the term 'abstract labour'
>differently. VFT is concerned with a socially constituted category of
>abstract labour that is relevant precisely only to capitalist society.
>Cockshott & Cottrell seem to deal with a trans-historical, primarily
>physiological notion of so-called abstract labour that is an aspect of the
>species being of humankind.
>I would argue that the VFT category is the capitalism-specific social form
>of the C&C notion, and that that is what Marxism is primarily concerned
>with - social not physiological determination.

Nicky agrees with Michael:
The term "abstract labour" as used by Paul C seems to refer to simply an
homogenous amount of labour without regard for its particular form. The
term as used by Michael refers specifically to the social **form** taken by
private labour under capitalism. Paul's view implies a labour theory of
value (LTV), in so far as there is some principle of accounting whereby
labour "determines" values always and everywhere. Michael's view implies a
value theory of labour (VTL), in so far as the market (and value) become
the allocative mechanisms that verify both the social usefulness of the
products of labour and the social usefulness of private labour.

I don't think that Marx, himself, was very far off a formulation of the
sort made by Michael (and Geert); but, I confess, it is very difficult for
me to appreciate Paul C's point of view. Because I don't really see the
point of it.

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