[OPE-L:4642] RE: Re: Re: Questions

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Fri Dec 08 2000 - 06:47:06 EST

Gil wrote [#4639] in reply to Rakesh

Rakesh, I'd certainly accept the notion that "surplus value" is an
aggregate category.  A corollary of this understanding is that, whatever it
is, surplus value has to be attainable by the capitalist class as a whole,
and not just a subset of the class.

Gil, are you saying that all capitalists have to "attain" surplus value if
any of them are to do so? And what does "attain" mean -- "successfully
extract surplus value from 'their' workers", or "individually hold on to
some positive quantity of that extracted surplus"?

I don't think I'd agree with any of these, but I suspect I'm adrift here. 

>Marx clarifies the distinction between labor power and labor. That 
>is, the worker is not selling a commodity in which past labor is 
>embodied; she sells a commodity which exists only in her living self.

I agree that the commodity called "labor power" is itself embodied in
living people.  But doesn't one's labor power, understood as a commodity,
embody the labor necessary to reproduce that labor power up to the point of
exchange? Isn't that necessarily the case in order for this commodity to
have a value in the same sense that a manufactured commodity has?

Surely not? What you say would be true if labour power was a produced
commodity, but it isn't -- it's reproduced, and there clearly isn't a
standard technique.

Moreover, what about labour-power that has been (re)produce outside the
capitalist economy up to the moment of its first exchange against capital --
e.g., peasants who turn from subsistence agriculture to industrial wage
Your comments would seem to imply that their labour-power has no value --
but however low wages may be in such circumstances, the capitalist is
clearly not going to be able to employ them for nothing.


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