[OPE-L:7062] Re: Re: Re: Re: slavery

From: Ian Hunt (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Date: Wed Apr 24 2002 - 20:47:16 EDT

Dear Nicky,
Well, we can take the most abstract definition of value as social labour in
the form of exchange-values (even in the case of cxommodities with 'empty
form', we have exchange values). A more developed concept of 'value' might
take it as having all the attributes of value in the capitalist mode of
production. Some of this is terminological: if we can agree that slaves
produce commodities that have 'value' in the most abstract definition of
'value', as above, then all slaves producing commodities produce surplus
value in that sense.
You might say that no commodities outside capitalism have value in its most
developed form. Where slaves produce commodities in a capitalist market you
have a choice between saying that these commodities lack developed value
(call it "Value') because they are not produced by wage labour, or that
they have value in that sense because they circulate as all other
commodities with Value do. In any case, they will be indiscernible from
commodities with value.
I think we can and should separate issues where there is fundamental
agreement from issues where there is dispute. Everyone seems to agree that
commodities have 'value' in the most abstract sense, whatever system they
are found in (and so that slaves producing commodiites produce 'value' in
that most abstract sense). Some might think that capitalism is essentially
characterised by a more developed value, others might think value is the
same wherever it is found.

>Thanks Ian.  Of course, I never denied that the labour of slaves creates
>'products' that can be exchanged.  Perhaps in the case of commodity form
>without a value content, we are back in the realm of 'empty forms'??
>Best Nicky
>At 12:33  24/04/02 +0930, you wrote:
>>i agree with Nicky's definition of the capital/wage labour relationship,
>>and agree with her that slaves are on a par with donkeys. But when she
>>asks, why should we not treat the labour of slaves on the same footing as
>>the efforts of donkeys (bith greater after a beating, etc), then i think
>>she has missed the point that slavery is an exploitative social system,
>>similar to though also dfferent from capitalism. The similarity is that
>>surplus labour is coercively extracted in both cases, the difference is
>>that the mechanism of coercion and its form of appearance differs. It makes
>>sense to speak of surplus value being produced by slaves who produce
>>commodities in that the surplus labour of the slaves takes the commodity
>>form. it will not, of course, make sense to measure the rate of
>>exploitation of slaves as s/v in value terms, since there is no 'v' in the
>>case of slavery. In patriarchal forms of slavery, and in the case of
>>southern US slavery in the case of domestic slaves also, surplus labour is
>>extracted but clearly the rpoduct does not take a commodity form and so
>>there is no surplus value.
>>In earlier forms of slave production of commodities (on eg Roman
>>latifundia) there may be debate about how developed the commodity form is
>>and of whether it is useful to talk of surplus value rather than simply of
>>surplus labour, but in the case of US slavery, which was integrated into
>>the world market of capitalism, it is useful I think to take the surplus
>>labour of slaves that produce commodities as part of the total surplus
>>value of the US capitalist economy,
>>>>> 4. Jerry has argued that I make it impossible to differentiate  how
>>>>> the intensification of labor is accomplished in slavery from how it
>>>>> is accomplished in wage labor capitalism. Does Jerry think that
>>>>> employers  had no rights to corporal punishment in capitalist
>>>>> factories in the 18th and 19th century?! At any rate, even if
>>>>> physical coercion is outlawed in modern capitalism, why does this
>>>>> mean that surplus value cannot be produced by slaves?
>>>It seems to me that Rakesh *entirely* misses the point.  It is simply this.
>>> The capital-labour relation is constituted both in exchange (a wage
>>>payment to labour) and in production (a legally enforcible time commitment
>>>by labour).  Most importantly, it is a purchase external to the capitalist
>>>class.  It is external because it is a payment *to workers* and not to
>>>*other capitalists*.  This alone sets labour apart from natural and
>>>produced inputs to production, and from slaves who are owned and
>>>distributed among capitals just as if they were donkeys or bullocks.   If a
>>>donkey is beaten and forced to spend 10 hours a day pushing a handle on a
>>>well to crush olives into olive oil, do you believe it creates surplus
>>>value?  If not, why not?
>>>I say not.  Because donkeys like slaves are exchanged internally among
>>>capitals according to competitive laws of equal exchange (i.e. their price
>>>on markets).  Exchange of slaves is no different to the distribution of
>>>other existing resources (given that property rights under slave systems
>>>extend to ownership of people and donkeys alike).  By contrast, the money
>>>wage advanced by capital to labour is a payment external to the capitalist
>>>class and is not an equal exchange.  i.e. the value of labour power (the
>>>real wage) differs in magnitude to the value that living labour valorises
>>>for capital during the course of the working day.  The fact that workers
>>>sell only a capacity to labour (not labour) and share in the distribution
>>>of the product according to their success in class struggle (i.e. success
>>>in struggle over the terms and conditions of actual labour) alone gives the
>>>term 'rate of exploitation' its meaning.
>>>As I see it, Marx's demonstration that labour time in production is the
>>>*sole* source of an increase in value rests entirely on the fact that
>>>capital makes an initial external payment to labour in the form of wages.
>>>If you do not make this connection, you cannot exclude nature as a possible
>>>source of surplus value.  The argument is *implicitly* made throughout the
>>>Introduction to the Grundrisse, which discusses the connection between
>>>production and distribution in different systems (including slavery) and
>>>the importance of beginning with concepts relevant to a historically
>>>specific mode of production.
>>>'These classes [capital and labour] in turn are an empty phrase if I am not
>>>familiar with the elements on which they rest.  E.g. wage labour, money,
>>>price etc.  These latter in turn presuppose exchange, division of labour,
>>>prices, etc.  For example, capital is nothing without wage labour, without
>>>value, money, price, etc.' (Marx, 1857-58, p.100 [1973, Penguin ed]).
>>>Nicola Taylor
>>>Faculty of Economics
>>>Murdoch University
>>>South Street
>>>W.A. 6150
>>>Tel. 61 8 9385 1130
>>>email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au
>>Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>>Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
>>Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
>>Flinders University of SA,
>>Humanities Building,
>>Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
>>Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784
>Nicola Taylor
>Faculty of Economics
>Murdoch University
>South Street
>W.A. 6150
>Tel. 61 8 9385 1130
>email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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