[OPE-L:4660] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Questions

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Sun Dec 10 2000 - 06:16:31 EST

>Rakesh, you write:
>>In order to extract surplus value in a free exchange society in which
>>labor is carried out by formally free proletarians--that is, assuming
>>the basic institutional set up of a developed capitalist
>>society--entrepreneurs have to find on the market a commodity whose
>>use value posseses the peculiar property of being a source of
>>exchange value.   In Steve's K terms, the dialectic of use
>>value-exchange value allows Marx to specify that it cannot be labor
>>time but rather labor capacity which proletarians alienate on the
>>market.  This basic distinction is novel.
>OK, so your reading is that Marx shows in, or at least as of, Vol. I, Ch.
>6, that under the conditions you mention--free exchange  economy with
>workers "free in the double sense"-- capitalists must hire labor power as a
>commodity in order to appropriate surplus value.  [I agree, by the way,
>that Marx's use of the distinction is novel, and would add that the
>distinction is fundamentally important in capitalist political economy.]

No, they have to find a commodity the use of which creates value, 
which *is* the objectification of new labor. This *then* suggests 
that it is not their future labor time which proletarians have 
exchanged for wages. What is it then that proletarians sell? It is 
not labor time at all but the capacity to labor. So I think you got 
the "must" wrong. Marx is not proving so much that capitalists must 
hire free wage workers in any and all cases of surplus value 
production--again he has already accomodated himself to this fact; he 
is demonstrating that in a free exchange economy in which all labor 
is assumed to be carried out by such workers, it "must" be labor 
power, rather than labor time itself, which workers exchange on the 
market for wages; and the price on this labor power,  a subject's 
capacity for labor and creation, is determined no more or less by the 
labor needed to reproduce it, that is by the laws of big number 
commodity exchanges. Hence, the thingification of the human coupled 
with the humanisation of things, as already analyzed in the fetishism 
of commodities.

And once we have figured out what it is that is alienated on the 
market, the question then becomes the more difficult and profound one 
of who it is exactly that can be found *freely* alienating labor 
power in the form of a commodity on the market. We are dealing here 
with proletarians, qua juridical subjects. We find human  the persona 
of  legal agents who are by law free to enter into binding (and thus 
be bound by) contracts--we have to go back to Chris Arthur's work on 
Pashkunis.It is fundamental.  See also Lawrence Krader Dialectic of 
Civil Society and Treatise on Social Labour.

Oh, it's late. I hope I made some sense.
Yours, Rakesh

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