Re: Figurative statements in Marxist argumentation

From: Phil Dunn (pscumnud@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Date: Tue May 13 2003 - 19:51:02 EDT

Michael Williams wrote:

>At the risk of revealing my disposition to pedantry, it seems to me that
>Marx(ist)'s arguments in this field (at least) are (for good or ill)
>suffused with metaphor (and analogy).

Nevertheless, it is possible to characterize embodied labour
value without resorting to metaphor.

1. Embodied labour value does not change in circulation.
2. The embodied labour value of a produced commodity
     is made up of embodied labour value transferred plus
     some newly embodied labour value.

Deliberately, I have refrained from saying what decides
how much labour is newly embodied or even how much is
transferred.  A variety of ways to do this are allowed
within this template of embodied labour.  Newly embodied
labour could be determined by raw labour time or by
cooked labour time (weighted by relative wage rates) or
in some other way.

The 'value-form' thesis that money is the sole measure of
value is not necessarily incompatible with embodied labour,
although, clearly, it is incompatible with both raw and cooked
labour time.  Suppose the thesis means that the value of the
produced commodity is equal to the value of the money it sells
for.  Firstly, this value does not change in circulation: it is
set just once when the commodity is bought.  Secondly, it is
not excluded that this value could not be broken down into
embodied labour transferred and embodied labour added.

In the simplest possible circulating constant capital case,
let the value of money be constant in time and equal to 1.
The price is p and the constant capital transferred is c.
Embodied labour added is therefore p-c.


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