Re: (OPE-L) is value labour?

From: Michael Williams (michaelj.williams@TISCALI.CO.UK)
Date: Tue May 13 2003 - 16:17:40 EDT

Hans Ehrbar
Sunday, May 11, 2003 4:43 PM
> This is (as
> I understand it) the meaning of Marx's formulation that the
> abstract labor is congealed in the commodity: it is no longer
> liquid labor, but it is still present as labor and manifests
> itself in the exchangeability of the commodity.

But nothing that Hans says before this - much of which is
unexceptionable - justifies the claim that abstract labour is literally
'congealed' in the commodity. Especially the correct insight that
abstract labour is represented by the commodity on account of the social
relations in which both are generated and reproduced. Nor is there any
literal sense in which labour as an activity is literarily 'liquid'
(certainly not in a physical sense, but, imo, not in any financial sense
either. In fact a commodity in a thick market is almost certainly more
financially liquid than the labour that produced it). And so, there is
equally no sense in which the labour (rather than its effects) 'is still
present in the economy as labour'.
> ... the abstract labor still lingers on as
> labor, albeit congealed labor; it constitutes the value of
> the commodity.

The expenditure of labour on the commodity has, typically, added value
to it, but that is the only (rather laboured ...) literal sense in which
labour 'constitutes' the value of the commodity
> Here we have the situation that something that happened
> in the past, the expenditure of human labor-power
> yesterday, has an effect today, because it constitutes
> the value of the product today.  This is so because
> the person who has produced this commodity yesterday
> is hungry now, therefore he or she has to go to the
> market to sell this commodity and buy other commodities.

No doubt, but persistent effects of an activity (labouring under
capitalist relations or production) do not rest on, or demonstrate, the
persistence of that activity.

michael w

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