[OPE-L:5649] Re: Reduction

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Wed May 23 2001 - 02:29:52 EDT

re Steve's 5648

Steve, let's say there is no exit from this "infinite regress" 
criticism by defining the value transferred from the  the means of 
production as the value of the money needed to buy them since if we 
are assuming that money is a commodity (say gold) there will always 
be a means of production element that cannot be reduced to labor. 
Just like the means of production themselves, the money commodity 
cannot be reduced to labor alone.

I must say Allin's response that this is a trivial criticism seems 
correct however.

You argue not:

>>Think again on this one please: the
>>point is that, no matter how hard you attempt to reduce any commodity to
>>labour alone, there will always be a commodity residue. It is not the issue
>>of finding the limit to a convergent series, but the impossibility of
>>eliminating one component of a causal process.

Why? One can eliminate the commodity or means of production part of 
the causal process simply by underlining that the means of production 
are themselves objectified labor. Then the value of commodities 
resolves into objectified labor. there is only one component to 
commodity value--objectified abstract labor.

>>The same procedure could of course be carried out using capital rather than
>>labour--reducing all today's labour to its commodity inputs, and so on, ad
>>infinitum. But the same process would *never* be able to show that
>>commodities were produced by commodities alone--there would *always* be a
>>non-zero labour residue.
>>The point of the critique is that, if value is somehow the "essence" of
>>capitalism/commodities, then that essence must contain both commodities and
>>labour. Arun Bose took this critique to its (typically ignored) zenith in
>>"Marx on inequality and exploitation". His conclusion was rather similar to
>>the 'heretical' one I reach:
>>"labour is never the only or the main 'source of value' in any system which
>>is defined as capitalist on the basis of a reasonable set of axioms...
>>Labour is not, immediately or ultimately, the only or main source of price,
>>surplus or profit... Labour and commodities are the two sources of wealth,
>>value, price, of surplus value and profit." (Bose 1980)

Marx of course agrees that labor is not the only source of wealth; 
nature plays its part. For Marx, abstract labor however is the only 
source of value; means of production can be reduced to objectified 
labor so the putative commodity residual is then only objectified 

Where exactly do you, Joan Robinson, Ajit, and Arun Bose see the problem?

Thanks for the clarification, Rakesh

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