[OPE-L:4466] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what is Volume 1 about?

From: Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Date: Mon Nov 06 2000 - 13:24:05 EST


My time is really scarce so only a brief comment on your #4464:

>To be sure, the value of a commodity is  determined not as cost price 
>+ surplus value, as Andrew K, Alejandro and Fred all have it, but as 
>the direct and indirect labor time which it embodies, though of 
>course that labor time is socially determined. This part Ajit and 
>Allin have correct.

I'm sorry to say that you haven't understood my position. Cost price +
surplus value are simply the monetary representation of what you call
"direct and indirect labor", i.e. past + living labor in Marx's most usual

I think you would agree that in capitalism is simply imposible to advance
"indirect labor", no matter under what assumpion you're working, i.e. price
= value, price = production price or whatever. Or, do you think that
capital is advanced as a *labor-time* magnitude? (this is not a rethoric

If you are working under the premise that prices = produciton prices, then
the *value* of the commodities is, as always, the labor time necessary to
reproduce them, but the labor time corresponding to constant capital and
variable capital cannot be the labor time *embodied* in the means of
produciton and wage goods. It is rather the labor time *represented* by the
money that capitalists actually advance. This is nothing strange if you
think that money-prices are simply forms of value and then they always
represent *amounts of labor time*, not necessarily the labor time embodied
in a commodity.

If you are producing yarn under the average conditions and you advance $500
in cotton representing 500 hours of past labor, this is the amount of
*labor time* which enters in the *value* of yarn, no matter if the labor
time objectified in this cotton during the past production cycle is 400
hours. The part of the social cost corresponding to the new cotton to be
produced is what effectively capitalist pay for it at the beginning of the
circuit. This is the "past labor" transferred during the subsequent
produciton process. What is socially necessary to produce yarn in this
process, on account of the cotton input, are 500 hours of labor time coming
from a preceding circuit. Capitalist do not pay the equivalent of 400 hours.

The other, dualistic, intepretation argues that past labor is 400 hours
because it conceives the "system of values" as a self-centered entity which
has nothing to do with the real process of determination of prices. It's a
shadow reality, an empty and imaginary "concept" (Skillman's "epycicle")
which is important only in videogames you can play with the aid of Excel.
It's, in fact, a separated "theoretical entity" of whatever real process
and this is why is not strange that the "right wing" of the dualistic
authors trashes it as "redundant", while the "left wing" cherishes it
either as the gist of socialist planning or an "invisible reality" from
which, supposedly, we could demonstrate the explotation of the working class.

Alejandro Ramos

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