Re: (OPE-L) is value labour?

From: Claus Magno (cmgermer@UFPR.BR)
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 15:36:32 EDT

Christopher Arthur wrote:

> One point for now. Any theory will have some statements that are true by
> definition or which are assumed without proof. But there must be a
> substantive claim which is to be tested.
> I had alawys assumed that the said claim in our case is "The magnitude of
> value is determined by socially necessary labour time." For this to be
> substantive it is obviously the case that value cannnot be defined as
> labour or identified by assumption because then it would reduce to a
> tautology. So my question to those who say "Value is Labour" is this: what
> IS the substantive claim?
> Chris

If I correctly interpret the meaning of substantive claim, it seems to me
that the statement "The magnitude of value is determined by socially
necessary labour time" cannot be the substantive claim for the definition of
value. It only refers to one of the determinations of value, which is its
quantity. And it seems to be coherent with Marx's concept of the substance
of value being abstract labour. Thus, what the statement says is that the
quantity of value is determined by the quantity of its substance, i.e. the
time of expended labour, but as the average or *social* labour time required
to produce each unit of the particular commodity.

At first sight you seem to be right in saying that if one accepts that
"value is labour", then the statement seems to reduce itself to a tautology.
But I think we have to consider what Marx has called the fetishism of
commodities, or their 'enigmatical character', which results from the fact
that labour is divided among the producers not as a conscious process, but
as a process that goes on behind their backs. The equality of their labours
appears to them in the form of equality of their values. In this sense,
value is the social expression of abstract labour, but unconscious of the
fact that it expresses abstract labour. The fact that value is the
expression of labour, or that labour is its substance, is a discovery of
human thought. In this sense it seems correct to say that the magnitude of
value - the social understanding of the equalization of commodities - is
determined by socially necessary labour time.

comradely, Claus.

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