[OPE-L:3415] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: objectivity of value

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Jun 02 2000 - 05:30:46 EDT

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At 12:10 01/06/00 -0400, you wrote:
>Paul C wrote:
> >>
> > Note that in capital marx uses the terms abstract labour and average
> labour
> >more or less interchangeably.
> By abstract labor do you mean homegenous social materialisation of
>undifferentiated human labor?

I mean what Marx means in the following :
>But the value of a commodity represents
> human labour in the abstract, the expenditure of human labour in
> general. And just
> as in society, a general or a banker plays a great part, but mere
> man, on the other
> hand, a very shabby part, [14] so here with mere human labour. It
> is the
> expenditure of simple labour-power, i.e., of the labour-power
> which, on an average,
> apart from any special development, exists in the organism of every
> ordinary
> individual. Simple average labour, it is true, varies in character
> in different countries
> and at different times, but in a particular society it is given.

> Whilst an average is not directly observable
> >it is not unmeasurable. The whole of Taylors school of scientific management
> >was based on determining this.
>The labor time over which Taylor had control is not yet materialized
>universal human labor;

What the hell is that?
What Taylor was quantifying was exactly Marx's simple average labour.

>nor is quantity of labor time applied to mfg plus
>the labor time of the plant, equipment, and raw materials used up abstract
>labor in Marx's sense.

True Taylor was not doing that. But given the data collected by work study
techniques one could compute the value added in a given process. It is
then in principle a simple recursive procedure using an i/o table to
compute the value
contents of the inputs.

>One cannot measure abstract labor via a conjuction
>of these concrete labor times.

Sorry, but that is just what Taylorism did. If it had not done so it would
have been of no use to management.

> As Marx makes clear in vol 1, the specific social characteristics of
>private labors appear *only* within exchange.

That is due to the nature of capitalist record keeping. Were they
compelled by law to keep parallel labour accounts there would
be nothing technically impossible about so doing. In the process
of transition to socialism, such a legal requirement is quite

>To answer Geert Reuten's question, exchange is thus the source of a
>commodity's value while the magnitude of value is determined by the the
>labor time socially necessary to reproduce a commodity, not labor embodied
>(Ricardo) or labor commanded (Smith).

This does Ricardo a disservice, his labour embodied is the same concept
as labour time socially necessary to reproduce.

>How value is actually measured takes
>us back to the three peculiarities of the value form the investigation of
>which the classical economists (along with quite a few marxists) simply

One must distinguis between how it is actually measured, i.e., presently
measured, and how it could in principle be measured.

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