Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: clyder@GN.APC.ORG
Date: Mon Jul 12 2004 - 06:08:38 EDT

Howard, there seems to be a tension in your post
In the first section you say:

Quoting Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>:

> Hi Fred,
> Thanks for the question, and sorry for the delay in responding to it.
> You ask whether money as a measure of value must be a commodity today.
> Briefly, I'd want to start with the causal tendencies set in motion by
> established structures of social relations.  Where the social relation that
> generates the product as a commodity exists, then the product of labor is
> constituted by value, and value, which is not presented empirically like
> texture or other physical qualities, must find a vehicle for its expression.
> It finds its means of expression in the body of another commodity and this
> process in turn generates the money commodity.  I don't know any way to
> supercede or transcend this process other than by transforming the
> generative social structure responsible for the existence of products as
> values in the first place (the transition to socialism).  So my answer to
> your question would be yes.
> Now that said, some qualifications are possible.  First, "commodities" might
> serve better than 'commodity'.  In talking about world money, Marx says gold
> and silver can serve as the money commodity simultaneously without either
> chasing the other out.  It may well be that a small oligarchy of commodities
> could together function as world money today.  I don't know this, but it
> seems theoretically possible.  Second, the thing that makes commodities
> commensurable is labor time measured by duration, so it is the reciprocal
> net work of pro rata proportions of total social labor that must be measured
> and given expression.  Sophisticated mathematics no doubt helps.  Third,
> symbols such as inconvertible paper can stand in for money if the coercive
> tools of the state ensure their efficacy and a roughly stable relation to
> the set of value relations requiring expression is maintained.  Such symbols
> could also then tend to function as units of measurement.  Finally, I doubt
> there is a barrier to the currency of a particular nation serving as
> something pretty much approximating world money in a particular social
> historical conjuncture so long as it is supported by an appropriate relation
> of force.  In other words, just as with forced currency within a nation, if
> the paper money of a nation is to function in that way, there must be
> guarantees, legal and otherwise, that if someone accepts paper they will in
> fact be able to turn it into real values.
> Anyway, underlying it all, Marx reminds, there lurks always potential for
> recourse to nothing but hard cash.
> Howard
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Fred Moseley" <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU>
> Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 9:45 AM
> Subject: Re: [OPE-L] measurement of abstract labor
> > On Sun, 27 Jun 2004, Howard Engelskirchen wrote:
> >
> > > Hi Paul,
> > >
> > > You wrote:
> > >
> > > Metrologists want a standard of weight that does not itself
> > > 'contain' weight.
> > >
> > > My understanding is that the standard for measuring length is the wave
> > > length emitted by an isotope of krypton.  I haven't read the issue of
> > > Science you refer to, but my guess would be that if meterologists are
> able
> > > to define weight in terms of something that is not weight it will be
> because
> > > they can reduce weight to that property.  You might be able to avoid the
> > > problem of a mass absorbing mass from the atmosphere, but you won't
> avoid
> > > the problem that in comparing two things they must be comparable under
> some
> > > common aspect which they share.  Two things are distant from one another
> > > because they both have existence in space (Marx's critique of Bailey).
> Two
> > > things are comparable in the property of what we now call weight because
> > > e.g. they both resist acceleration or whatever other common aspect turns
> out
> > > to solve the  kilogram problem.
> > >
> > > Howard
> >
> >
> > Howard, are you suggesting that money as measure of value must be a
> > commodity today?
> >
> > Comradely, Fred

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