[OPE-L:8073] Re: the 'starting point'

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Nov 27 2002 - 09:24:34 EST

Re Tony T's [8068]:

> First, the relevant  passages from Diane Elson's article "The Value
> Theory of Labor" begin around  p. 144+ in VALUE: THE
> London: 1979).  She describes four aspects of labor (abstract v concrete,
> social v private)  as potentia ".... which can never exist on their own as
> determinate forms of labour.... Marx concludes that in capitalist society
> the abstract aspect is dominant" (p.149).

That's the section I looked at again after  your previous post [8054] in
search of 'ordering' and 'conditions'.  I still don't quite get your point
about Elson's perspective on 'ordering', although, I do see why this
discussion would remind you of her article:  e.g. some of her comments
of relevance to our discussion with Mike E include:

* (In relation to Cutler et al) "Essentially a *rationalist* method, it
assumes that the phenomena of the material world are like the symbols of
arithmetic and formal logic, separate and self-bounded and relate to each
other in the same way. This is not Marx's method: his theory of value is not
constructed on rationalist lines" (p. 131);

* "The quantity of socially necessary labbour-time does not determine the
magnitude of value in the logical or mathematical sense of an independent
variable determining a dependent variable, (or in the sense of defining the
meaning of the term 'magnitude of value'), but in the sense that the
quantity of a chemical substance in its fluid form determines the magnitude
of its crystalline or jellied form.  There is a continuity as well as a
difference between what determines and what is determined." (p. 133);

* "The method of analysis appropriate for analysing historical process is
not the mathematical-logical method of specifying independent and
dependent variables, and their relation.  Such a method can only
identify static structures, and is forced to pose a qualitative change as
a sudden discontinuity, a quantum leap between structures: and not as
a process, a qualitatively changing continuum." (p. 141).

> Two aspects of this are pertinent to the current discussion: First, the
> dominance of this quantitative aspect of labor is integral to the
> pessimism
> of writers like Horkheimer and Adorno, who regard quantification and
> calculability as an important factor in the self-subversion of the
> enlightenment (and the everpresent possibility of regression into
> barbarism).  And this is why all Marxists should become CPA's: accounting
> is  the advanced technology of this calculability.  Figuring -- about
> profitability, accumulation, investment patterns, resource allocation
> etc --  orchestrates the subsumption of labor, and therefore the realm of
> experience.

Would you say that this is a 'technocratic' perspective on the subsumption
of labor?   I do not direct that question in relation to CPAs as such  but
rather at a social perspective which gives pride of place to quantitative

> Second,  notwithstanding Elson's observation as to the "dominance" of
> abstract labor, her main thesis -- as indicated by the title of her
> book --  is that the purpose of Marx's analysis concerns the constitution
> of daily  life under capitalism  (This contrasts with the neo-classical
agenda of
> price determination, as well as that of some brands of economistic
> Marxism).
> Clearly income distribution / price determination/  wage / profit division
> (and thus this version of class struggle) is an important component of
> daily  life; but importantly, so are consciousness, culture, ideology, and
> sociability.  Here resides (for writers like Adorno) the possibilities for
> transcendence.

Does Marx's analysis concern the constitution of daily life under
capitalism?  Well -- yes and ....  To the extent that there are aspects of
daily life that are systematically related to the essential character of
capitalism, then  yes.  To the extent that there are aspects of daily life
which are entirely  *contingent*, then some of those aspects fall beyond
the scope of the subject matter (capitalism).

In solidarity, Jerry

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