[OPE-L:5619] Re: is value (a form of) labor?

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Fri May 18 2001 - 08:03:22 EDT

(Howard -- thanks for your reply to my
question in 5613.)

Riccardo turned the tables on me in [5611]
by asking me basically the same question I
asked Howard:

> what about saying that value *is* objectified
> labour (ideally) expressed in  money?

Well I agree that there is a necessary link
between value and money, but this expression
'objectified labour' (along with expressions used
by others such as labor 'embodied' or 'encased'
in a commodity) strike me as rather odd. Labor
is an *activity* performed in the production
process --  money itself is not the activity of
labor even when used as the means for
valuing the commodity *product*.   I think
that there is, relatedly, a certain metaphorical
aspect to Marx's expression of 'dead labor'.
Looking at the matter less metaphorically,
if labor is dead then it can no longer be labor.
Labor is performed by the living alone. Value
is created *by* labor; value is is not  *itself*
a [form of] labor.

Consider the sculpture of David. David performed
the [concrete] labor of sculpturing. He was, in
addition to other things, a sculptor. Although
his labor pre-debated the value relation, his
sculptures (if they were now put on the market) would have an exchange-value
expressed in
Yet, we would not think of calling the *sculpture
itself*  "labor objectified", would we?  Shouldn't
the sculpture, even if it was produced under
capitalist conditions and have a use-value, a
value, and have that value come to be represented
by the value-form (i.e. even if it is a commodity
in the fullest sense of the term),  be considered
to be a sculpture in the concrete sense and a
commodity in the more generic sense rather than
an embodiment or representation of 'labor
objectified'?  What is 'labor objectified'  anyway?

In solidarity, Jerry

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