(OPE-L) is value labour?

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun May 11 2003 - 08:46:23 EDT

I appreciate the efforts by Howard and Hans to offer a
Critical Realist (CR) answer to the question being discussed,
but I am not convinced.  Hans wrote on Saturday, May 10:

> Now in order to have causal powers it must be something
> material, it cannot just be in our minds.  It also cannot be
> a mere metaphor.

I agree.  I didn't suggest previously that value was a "mere
metaphor."  Rather, I suggested that some of the terminology
used such as "contained", "embodied", "congealed", "crystallized",
and "dead" could be interpreted as metaphors for other,
more accurate terminology such as "represents" or "expresses."
To say that a commodity represents value or expresses value
*in no way* reduces value to a metaphor.

> This material underpinning of value's
> causal powers is that value is the congelation of human
> labor-power.  Someone has worked, has spent hours of labor
> producing a certain use-value.

Yes, someone has worked, has spent hours producing a certain
use-value, but that doesn't mean that value exists in  a "congealed"
form within a commodity.

> In other words, if one spends one's labor-power under the
> above conditions, i.e., if one privately produces things
> which one does not need oneself but which are intended to be
> part of a very interdepent social division of labor of many
> specialized producers for the market, then one has set in
> motion two powerful causal chains:
> (a) on the one hand, this labor has not yet satisfied your
> own needs.  You are compelled to bring this product to market
> and sell it so that you can buy things you yourself need,
> otherwise you will starve.  (And others in the market
> will indeed accept the product of your labor in exchange
> for the product of their labor
> (b) on the other hand, you have produced some wonderful
> use-value which can be used for all kinds of things.
> Both of these are very material forces which make this
> expenditure of human labor-power causally efficacious in a
> specific way.  It is not a mere metaphor that Marx calls
> value "congealed" or "crystallized" abstract labor.

You haven't shown that either one or both of the two
"causal chains"  require that value be viewed as existing
in "congealed" or "crystallized" states.

> The
> person who spent this labor has to use the product as a
> conduit to get the things he or she needs.  Because of this
> necessity, Marx is justified to say that the labor has not
> yet disappeared, sublated in the product, but it continues
> to exist as labor in the product.  The producer first holds
> this labor in the form of a product he himself cannot use,
> then in the form of money, until finally he holds it in the
> form of a use-value which he can use.

Again -- there is nothing in the above that requires that a
commodity "contain"  labor.   So long as a product takes the
commodity-form, then labor need not be "contained" within
the commodity for it to express value, use-value, and
take the value- and money- forms.

> Value is therefore real.

Agreed, but that was never in doubt.

> The "content" of value as Marx
> calls it, i.e., the material underpinning sustaining its
> causal powers, is the abstract labor used to produce it,
> which society still remembers as such, i.e., which is
> "congealed" in this product.  This is why Marx says that
> value is congealed abstract labor.

Again -- this can be explained -- and better -- without reference
to "congealed" labor.

In solidarity, Jerry

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