[OPE-L:5556] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: William ofOckam'sRazor and Political Economy

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 04:19:29 EDT

Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:

> re Ajit's 5553
> >Rakesh Narpat Bhandari wrote:
> >
> >>  in 5541 Ajit says of what he calls the traditional interpretation:
> >>
> >>  >
> >>  >Secondly, this approach must explain how does it take the total
> >>  >social labor as
> >>  >*given* that is supposedly distributed.
> >>
> >>  Ajit, would you kindly elaborate on exactly what this explanatory burden is?
> >>  Nice to have you back.
> >>  Rakesh
> >
> >____________________
> >
> >Well, the question is: is there something given to you (in this case abstract
> >social labor) before you distribute it.
> Adam Smith recognized that objects exchange due to the division of
> labor. Marx then asks not only why did this division of labor arise
> but also whose labor is it that is divided.
> To the latter question Marx answered that it society's labor that is divided.
> So then we understand that while Smith argued that exchange of
> commodities is an exchange of equal quantities of labor, Marx
> analyzes the situation further to show that this labor is not
> personal or invididual labor but a social substance, some aliquot of
> the labor at the disposal of a society.
> So what does it mean to say that social labor is a substance? It
> means that individuals producing in society is the starting point,
> that production by a Robinsonade individual outside society is just
> as much an absurdity as the idea that language could develop without
> people living and speaking together. It is a recognition that men
> must associate and depend on each other and more to the point depend
> on social production. Man is in short a zoon politikon. This is the
> starting point (it may even be understood as a transcedental
> condition as Max Adler argued).
> It is thus society that has labor time at its disposal and that
> depends on social labor for its reproduction just as the individual
> depends on society for her consciousness, individuation and
> reproduction: the individual activity of every single person is only
> a mode of functioning of the species, and it is this social and
> abstractly general labor time that is expressed by way of its
> products in the exchange relationship.
> To answer your question then: yes. something is given before
> distribution: it is humanity's dependence on social labor carried out
> in association in determinate social relations.


For the sake of simplicity, let us stick to capitalism from now on and not any
society. So you say that total social labor is given prior to its distribution? Now,
do we know what is the quantity of this *given* total social labor? How do we go
about knowing this information?

> >  If so, then where does this come from
> are you asking where does the labor time at the disposal of any
> society come from? It comes from the capacity of the members of that
> society to labor. So are you then asking where that capacity derives
> from? From metabolic processes?
> The meaning and significance of this question are unclear to me.


What do you mean by "the capacity of the members of that society to labor"? Is it
somekind of biological maximum that doctors can determine? How is this "capacity to
labor" determined? Do we also take capitalists' capacity to labor in determining the
society's total labor? The meaning and significance of this question will become
clear as we go on.

> >and how do you know how much of its quantity there is.
> A larger society, a healthier society, etc. would  have a greater
> quantity of labor time at its disposal.


The question was "how do you know how much of its quantity there is". Is it such a
hard question to understand? If somebody asked you how much of trousers do you own,
do you generally answer that if I had more money i could own more? Just look at the
absurdity of the nature of your answer to the precise question. And this is my
problem with the Marxist-Hegelian mumbo jumbo.

> >  If not, then does the
> >distribution of this thing affect its total quantity.
> Well under various social relations, the proportion of the labor time
> at any society's disposal which is actually distributed to various
> concrete production processes may be great or small. So the quantity
> of the labor time at any society's disposal which is actually
> expended depends on its social relations of production and
> distribution.


Forget about "any society" and just concentrate on capitalist society. So the
relation of production is given. Now, are you saying that the total quantity of
abstract social labor is dependent upon how it is distributed to various concrete
production processes? If so, then could you specify what kind of relationship is
there between the distribution of social labor and its total quantity? And of
course, you must have noticed that your answer here seems to contradict what you
said above about social labor is given prior to its distribution, but I'm not too
much concerned about it at this moment.

> >  In what way the total
> >quantity and its distribution are related to each other?
> There is a historically variable relation; while each society has to
> accomplish an ongoing division in (or distribution of) the social
> labor on which it depends--no natural law can be done away with--that
> division is effected in historically variable ways. Starting then
> with social labor, Marx reasons that in a society in which man's
> relations are primarily through things, the distribution of social
> labor obviously has to be effected through the exchange value of
> those things.


Let's stick to capitalism. The question was "In what way the total
quantity and its distribution are related to each other?" Your answer is "the
distribution of social
labor obviously has to be effected through the exchange value of those things."
Again an absurd answer to a simple question. The question is not about how the
distribution of labor is effected. The question is that if you admit that
distribution of labor affects its quantity, then you need to tell us what kind of
relation exists between the two. How the distribution of labor is effected is simply
not the question.

> That it is social--as opposed to personal or individual--labor then
> that has to be represented in the exchange relationship can be
> recognized without any palaver about proving or deducing value as the
> third thing in terms of which (reproducible) commodities are
> commensurated in the exchange relation.
> Since I am still quite unclear what criticism of what you have called
> the traditional interpretion these questions are trying to set up, I
> am not quite sure I understand your meaning here; consequently, I may
> not have answered your queries.
> Rakesh


What I'm trying to do is to prove to you, and to many others who follow the
Marxist-Hegelian interpretation of the value problematic, that your understanding of
the value problematic is nothing but a jumble of confusion by making you realize
that this way of thinking makes you completely incapable of answering very basic,
straightforward, and simple questions. Cheers, ajit sinha

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