[OPE-L:5654] Re: Re: Reduction

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Wed May 23 2001 - 10:09:10 EDT

The problem is simply put Rakesh:

If you believe that commodities can be resolved into labour and labour 
alone, then you believe in magic.

At 04:29 PM 5/23/01 Wednesday, you wrote:
>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 
>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 labor.
>Where exactly do you, Joan Robinson, Ajit, and Arun Bose see the problem?
>Thanks for the clarification, Rakesh

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