[OPE-L:4664] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Questions

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Sun Dec 10 2000 - 21:16:15 EST

Rakesh, In light of your comments here, let me reword the question:  

In your reading, does Marx show in Chapter 6 that, given capitalist
property rights and a class of workers "free in the double sense,"
capitalists must purchase a commodity whose use value is labor in order to
appropriate surplus value via the circuit of capital?   Gil

>>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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