[OPE-L:4331] Re: SV, labour and machines

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Oct 27 2000 - 13:40:27 EDT

Thanks Rakesh,

The nice thing about my argument (until it is demolished) is that it 
doesn't require prices to equal values! It accords beautifully with 
Marx's statements to the effect that if we can't explain SV with p=v 
then we can't explain it at all (ie it doesn't matter whether p=v or 
not for the argument to go through). All that is required is society 
wide exchange of commodities such that prices are GIVEN to 
individuals, and *proximately* 'explained' by supply and demand  
[btw, there's no doubting that, in Cap1, Marx seemed to envisage 
prices of production as long run centres of gravity rather like Smith 
and Ricardo's 'natural prices' - check out the footnote that occurs 
just before chapter 6...but this is all at a more concrete level than 
the SV argument].

Then the key is the price of a machine = the (present *exchange*) 
value of the contributions of the machine. There is nothing here 
about price = value (where value is snlt). You can read the whole of 
the argument in my previous post in just this way.

On your point abour 'discounting': the worker doesn't sell his labour 
at all (at a discount or whatever). The worker has not agreed to do 
any *specific* labour at all. If the capitalist doesn't put the worker to 
work, then no work will be done. The worker sells his *labour 
power*, that's all. The key is that this labour power is sold at a 
GIVEN price. It is given (proximately) by the market [and 
'ultimately' by the value (as in snlt, with historical, moral element) 
of labour power, but this is presented at a more concrete level, and 
isn't necessary here] . As long this price, along with others, is 
given through 'free exchange' then that's all that is required to the 
Best wishes,


On 27 Oct 2000, at 9:35, Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> But if  a machine  will tend to be exchanged for the money form of 
> the labor time it represents or embodies--this being a supply side 
> condition for the production of machines, as I think you 
> suggest--then why isn't the working class only exchanging  its labor 
> power *at some discount* for the money form of the labor time which 
> it agrees to perform? So what if profit comes from the performance of 
> greater labor time than for which the working class has *agreed* to 
> be paid--this is not necessarily exploitation. It's just a time 
> preference for present consumption. I even heard a famous liberal 
> Princeton sociologist and race expert suggest that African Americans 
> have, as always, an acute case of this working class disposition 
> (notice how little they save while buying BMW's and other fancy cars 
> out of their income range, she noted about the putative 
> quintessential American consumer). At any rate,  all agreements have 
> been made in the light of day.
> Moreover, as Gil has argued why do we assume that equal labor times 
> are being exchanged on the market in the first place? It's obvious 
> that capitalists are exchanging their goods at the same markup 
> relative to their investment regardless of the relative quantity of 
> labor they have employed--so why do we characterize the market as 
> fair labor time exchange? "Value" obviously has nothing to do with 
> what we observe in the market, so why make it the core of one's 
> explanation of observed behavior? Why not just to stick to the 
> surface, like Karl Pearson and BF Skinner?
> all the best, r

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