OPE-L: is value labour?

From: Asfilho@AOL.COM
Date: Thu May 08 2003 - 01:25:06 EDT

Claus said:

>I did not understand the meaning of some of your statements. May I ask for
clarification? <snip> You say that "for Marx, it is insufficient to base the
source of value on labour time of production". I'm sure I'm not wrong in
thinking that you don't intend to say that for Marx there is another source
of value than labour, but that is what this phrase seems to mean. Could you
clarify this?

Claus is right, of course. For Marx there is no source of value other than
(commodity-producing) labour. My apologies if the sentence was ambiguous in
any way.

Paul Z said:

>Alfredo, Are you arguing that Marx's 'value' is therefore different than
Ricardo's 'value'


>and, if so [if not different, I wouldn't understand your point], how
different? It is one thing to mention that Ricardo speaks from a
trans-historical position but not Marx, it is another to demonstrate how
'value' is thus affected.

There is a vast literature on the relationship between Ricardo and Marx,
which Paul knows much better than I do. Anwar Shaikh wrote several
outstanding papers about it in the early 80s, and Geoffrey Pilling (in his
1980 book) provides a very thorough analysis of their theories. The papers
included in Ben Fine's 1986 edited collection (The Value Dimension) are also
very useful; but see also Rubin's 1979 History of Economic Thought (which
summarises brilliantly the material in the TSV); the literature goes on

I think that the critical difference lies in the fact that Ricardo tries to
calculate/explain prices (the two things are not clearly distinguished in his
analysis) by counting hours of (concrete) labour regardless of the social
form of labour (this is shown in Paul C's citation of Ricardo, included in a
recent message to the list).

In contrast, Marx is concerned with the social relations between the
producers and the members of society more generally, the mode of labour
associated with these social relations (i.e., the mode of production of the
material conditions of social reproduction), and the reason why in a
historically specific society, capitalism, produced commodities take the form
of values and have prices. Marx is not therefore worried with the calculation
of prices or the determination of the price system - he seeks to explain the
social forms of values and prices instead. This makes Marx's 'value'
fundamentally different from Ricardo's.


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