[OPE-L:2618] RE: slaves and value

From: Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.ac.kr)
Date: Tue Mar 28 2000 - 08:29:38 EST

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Alfredo raises the question:

(a) I am not clear about the meaning of this sentence:
"[the slave] does not add value but [the wage worker] does because [slave
labor] is not the kind of abstract labor in that the free versatility of
labor is not adapted by the slaves themselves."

(b) does it imply that *commodity* producing slaves (US South, Brazil, etc,
until C19th) were *not* producing value - simply because they were not free -
ie, the legal relationship between owner and slave determines the content of
the labour process?

Chai-on replies,
(a) the abstract labor that produces commodity value must be capale of varying its mode of labor expenditure on its own decision making. Slaves cannot change their mode of labor expenditure at their own will but the will of slave-owners. The production agent is the slave-owner. In capitalist production, the agent of production is capital, so the equal rates of profit must apply instead of the equal rates of surplus value.
In the other aspect of capitalist production, however, wage-workers constantly change their jobs at their own will towards better rewards just as independent petty-commodity producers do so. The equal rates of surplus value, therefore, can also apply. Yet the two laws conflict with each other. Which one rules?

(b) The slaves that produce commodities are just like livestock. Egg-producing labors are not performed by hen but by farmers. Slave owners are the agents of production. The content of slaves' labor process is determined by the capitalists who moves their capital towards higher profit rates. Slaves do not change the content of job training, education, etc. at their own will but by the dictates of the capitalist. Why, if then, can the labor value scheme based on equal rates of surplus value be relevant even though the agents of production is capital? IMO, Marx thought the agent of production to be dual, capital as well as collective laborer, which form the two aspects of a coin. The collective laborer here does not refer to individual laborers, however. Now, we shall ask, "Are the agents of capitalist production dual indeed?" If then, why?

In solidarity,


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