[OPE-L:7046] Re: the value[s] of labour power, nationally and internationally

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Mon Apr 22 2002 - 22:50:17 EDT

Re Diego's [7044]:
> I think Brody says:  There is no problem at all with the different kinds
of labor. If it is true that in the aggregate the value of labor power is
the value of the means of consumption needed to reproduce labor power, it
will also be true at the disaggregate level. <
Jerry replied [7045]
>>Why must that "also be true"?  And what level of aggregation 
are we talking about?  
>>Since the VLP  "contains a historical and moral element" and therefore
differs not only historically but for each society,  the aggregate that you
refer to above can not be the world capitalist economy but only an
individual capitalist social formation.   If that is the case, then how can 
different kinds of labor in different social formations be reduced to
simple labor 
since "how much society needs" varies by country? 

Even in a single social formation, how do you arrive at the 'value' of the
consumption bundle (means of consumption) in labour hours?:
1) how do you compare the different kinds of skills that go into producing
different commodities, and reducing them to simple labour hours?  Marx
himself aimed to save the trouble of making this reduction, by considering
labour time to be only an 'immanent measure' (i.e. not computable).  
2) The actual measure is money; has to be.  For one thing, money wages are
paid before production but the real wage is known only after production.
So the value of labour power is also only known after production in terms
of what the real wage can buy (i.e. the consumption bundle, also priced in
money terms).  
3) Since we have money to measure value, why do you want to measure it in
labour hours? (i.e. what's the point of doing so).  To prove that labour
power is the source of value what is needed is not an actual measure in
time units but an argument that capital (in aggregate) makes a purchase
external to itself (in the payment of wages) and that this is the source of
an increase in money, M-C-M', once capital makes use of labour in
production to produce commodities which have (potentially) a money price
greater than the original advance.  The transfer of means of production and
natural resources (given universal property rights) cannot contribute to
this increase since it is internal to the capitalist class (i.e. one
capitalist's purchase is another's sale).  The only advance at M, then,
*is* the advance to labour.   


Nicola Taylor
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
South Street
W.A. 6150

Tel. 61 8 9385 1130 
email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

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