[OPE-L:3093] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: re:starting points

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Wed May 10 2000 - 10:12:24 EDT

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Dear Steve,

All other commodities but labor power have a fixed, unchanging value, which
is already congealed. With all these other commodities, the quantity of
value that can be consumed--their use value as you would put it--is fixed.

However as labor power is consumed its value can be augmented; moreover,
following Marx's theory of value only *new (abstract) labor* can be the
source of surplus value. Machines and other dead labor obviously cannot
yield a net surplus of rentals over cost; this would commit us to the
necromancy that the consumption of dead labor can be the source of new
value. Indeed living labor is vested with the task of preserving value (a
task which is complicated by rapid technical change, requiring the quick
amortization of constant capital and the overwork of the proletariat) as
well as creating new value

The question then becomes why living labor does not hold out until its
price allows it to capture its value surplus. The value created by labor
is systematically greater than the value of labor power But the laws of
exchange are not violated in the purchase of labor power--it is sold, like
every other commodity, at value in terms of the labor congealed in the
production and reproduction of labor power; however Marx then underlines
the special feature of this commodity, viz. its own value (social time
required for its reproduction) and the value it produces are separate
quantities. The law of value is both met and violated; this is critique in
Marx's specific sense.

At any rate, Steve, are you trying to explain surplus value by the
consumption of dead labor?

Yours, Rakesh

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