[OPE-L:6957] Re: Re: value-form

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 14:26:37 EDT

Chris writes in 6939:

>I disagree with R&W (More, I have trouble understanding what can be meant.)
>This is simply the converse error of those who say the dimension of value
>is labour-time. Value homogenises the products and through that labours. So
>what could be the dimension of abstract labours? Time, as Marx correctly
>says. What he does not explain is: why? IMO only VF theory can explain why
>it is time and not e.g. ergs, as the 'physiological ' definition should
>surely imply (cp. Carchedi).

More specifically I think Marx is saying that the dimension of 
abstract labor has to be *social* labor time.

  Marx has to specify abstract labor in such a way that it can be the 
substance of the value of commodities as commodities become the 
general form of wealth. As I was saying it is not enough to define 
abstract labor negatively or as a residue because then the existence 
of abstract labor cannot be established. This follows from Hegel's 
Doctrine of Being.

Moreover,  it is not enough--and here I agree with Chris A--for Marx 
to say that abstract labor is an expenditure of muscles, brain power, 
etc independent of concrete form because not all such expenditures 
are objectified in commodities--for example personal labor.

  The abstract labor that is the common substance of of commodities 
cannot thus be reduced to a pure physiological definition. And Marx 
does not in fact leave the determination of abstract labor there.

It turns out that--and this is clearest if we compare bourgeois 
society to other modes of production, historic and imaginary-- the 
value of commodities which is expressed in the exchange relations has 
to be an objectified expression of some aliquot of socially 
necessary, homogenous general *social labor time* which in an 
individualistic private profit seeking society  can only be regulated 
through exchange value, i.e., the reified mode of expression of 
social relations in things by way of things.

So the abstract labor that is the common substance of commodities is 
not simply a pure physiological expenditure or personal labor or the 
the classical subjective estimation of toil and trouble  but 
fundamentally aliquots or abstract parts of objective, socially 
necessary and average *social labor time*

Value is abstract, homogenous social labor which though objectified 
in a commodity can only be expressed by way of the body of another 

Marx builds social labor and fetishism into the very definition of 
value which includes but is not exhausted by the criterion of a 
physiological, merely abstract expenditure of labor.


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