[OPE-L:3066] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: re:starting points

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 10:58:06 EDT

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In reply to Fred, Ajit wrote in 3056

. As you agree, the categories of
>wage labor and capital do not appear in the analysis here. Thus the problematic
>of value in the first chapter of CAPITAL has nothing to do with capitalist
>exploitation. One has to look at the theoretical context for understanding the
>concept of value.

Well, Ajit my point will not be new to you since I made it a zillion times
in a previous exchange: if we want to understand exploitation in and
through the value form, we have to understand first what kind of labor
produces value and surplus value. The general ontological determination of
kinds has to come before the determination of quantities. If in the
exchange relation commodities are only to count quantitatively, i.e. as to
the extent of their *value*, they have to be modes of expression of the
same undifferentiated human labor. Labor then has two characters. That is,
in its concrete form the useful embodied labor may remain of the same
quality, e.g., tailoring labor, and the use value thus remain unaltered
even as a magnitude of value alters simply because coats now have more or
less value than previously because more or less (abstract) labor is
required to produce them than previously.

Increased quantities of material wealth (use values) may therfore coincide
with decreased value of wealth. The quantitative side of commodities can
thus only be understood by specifying the qualitative nature of the labor
which produces value which only varies in magnitude. And this is what Marx
is doing at the outset of Capital, part one with which we cannot dispense
if we are to understand the quantitative questions.

With rare bravado, Marx called attention several times in the Critique, in
Capital and in letters to his answering of this ontological question, this
specification of labor type, this wrangling with the phantom objectivity of
abstract labor as an important original contribution.

Yours, Rakesh

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