[OPE-L:4244] Steve on the worthlessness of labor at the source of surplus value

From: Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Date: Mon Oct 23 2000 - 17:37:58 EDT

Re Gil 4243:


>without needing to introduce an 
>additional theoretical entity--commodity labor values--and analyze its 
>possible connection to another entity--commodity prices---couldn't this be 
>viewed as an advance in, rather than a rejection of, Marx's theoretical 
>project, in something like the same way that Copernican cosmology 
>represented an advance over its predecessor, in part because it dispensed 
>with the cumbersome apparatus of Ptolemaic epicycles?   


>Wouldn't it be fetishistic to insist on the
>necessity of labor magnitudes to Marxian theoretical discourse under the
>conditions specified in steps (1) - (3)?


All your "series of hypotheticals" is based on the hidden assumption that
"labor magnitudes" are merely "theoretical entities", in the worst sense of
the word, i.e. imaginary things as the epicycles are. For sure, you're here
a kind of disciple of Sombart and Bernstein for whom "labor-values" were
merely "mental constructions".

"Labor magnitudes" however are not "theoretical entities" but real,
observable, expenditures of human labor power. It's a matter of fact that,
right now, people work and this could be *observed* and accounted for. This
is as real as the expenditure of electricity, oil, flour or mustard that is
taking place. In this sense, "labor magnitudes" are not something from
which one simply decide to "dispense with", as you suggest. They are not
the epycicles but the planets themselves that we are observing, i.e. they
are data of the theory, not a "theoretical" (in the sense of imaginary)

Whether or not you include "labor magnitudes" in your "series of
hypotheticals", it remains a coarse fact of this society that people spend
their labor power in order to reproduce themselves. The intepretation you
follow is a result of the idealist revision of Marx's theory of value done
by neo-Kantians at the end of XIX century.

Alejandro Ramos

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Oct 31 2000 - 00:00:11 EST