[OPE-L:4291] Re: Re: Steve on the worthlessness of labor as the source of surplus value

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 01:34:50 EDT

In 4289 Steve asked

>  how would you
>interpret the following statements by Marx?:
>"On the other hand, the obscurantist has overlooked that my analysis of the
>commodity does not stop at the dual mode in which the commodity is
>presented, [but] presses forward [so] that in the dual nature of the
>commodity there is presented the twofold *character* of *labour*, whose
>product it is: *useful* labour, i.e., the concrete modes of labour, which
>create use values, and abstract *labour, labour as the expenditure of
>labour-power*,... that *surplus value* itself is derived from a `specific'
>*use-value of labour-power* which belongs to it exclusively etc etc., that
>hence with me use value plays an important role completely different than
>[it did]] in previous [political] economy" (comment on Wagner)
>Does not the statement "that *surplus value* itself is derived from a
>`specific' *use-value of labour-power*" imply that Marx was using a form of
>logic--as well as a historical argument--to assert that labour is the
>source of surplus value?


  value is defined as social labor time (the value of a commodity is 
the labor time it contains but the labor that it contains is socially 
determined); hence, surplus value is defined as surplus social labor 
time. The question then becomes  how surplus labor time originates in 
the market where everyone presumably exchanges equal labor time for 
equal labor time.   There would have to be a commodity whose use 
value is more labor time than is represented by the labor time for 
which it exchanges.

The so called dialectic of exchange value/use value thus allows Marx 
to specify what it is exactly that the proletariat sells on the 
market (labor power), and thus conceptually clarifies the 
exploitation underneath the free market.

Instead you have it
1. there is a dialectic of use value and exchange value.
2. Marx only looked at the use value of one commodity labor power and 
determinned its use could be productive of value
3. He then commited the non sequitur that since the use  of labor 
power was productive of value , the use value of no other commodity 
was also value producing.

You simply don't understand how Marx defines value. 3 is not a non 
sequitur, ok simply because the use value of dead labor cannot be 
productive of new, surplus labor time. But do note that Marx does 
argue that the use of a new machine can allow an entrepreneur to 
claim more of the total social surplus labor time than is produced in 
his own firm or even branch...So the use value of dead labor 
certainly *appears* productive of surplus value to the businessmann 
and those who systematize his thinking. There is good reason why your 
Marx critique has the ring of common sense to it.

All the best, Rakesh

ps my computer crashed when I tried to print out your chapter. So my 
response will be delayed.

pps wouldn't a massive reflation of the Japanese economy threaten to 
overcome crisis on the backs of pensioners, not simply the debt 
owning class? Does radical Keynesianism really have working class 

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