From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Nov 30 2004 - 07:14:05 EST
Paul B wrote With respect to other comments on gold, then certainly gold production is labour intensive. This limitation is itself a result of the need to compress as much human labour as possible (socially, politically acceptable) into each ounce, to ensure that the maximum quantity of surplus labour is contained in each ounce, an aim that can be pursued since gold is not in competition with any other commodity for its role as money, and is not forced to cheapen itself. Paul C One almost does not know where to start with this teleology. What is the status of this 'need' which is taken to govern the labour content of gold? "the need to compress as much human labour as possible into each ounce" Since when have 'needs' been casually effective for science? The high labour content required to produce gold does not stem from any kind of need but from its high atomic weight, this means that relatively little of it is produced in supernova. These supernova occurring more than 4 billion years ago were hardly influenced by any supposed needs of the capitalist system. Then we hear that gold is not in competition with any other commodity for its role as money. Gold here becomes a social subject engaging in competition. Competition may occur between capitalist firms to secure larger shares of a market, it does not occur between chemical elements. Now given that multiple firms are engaged in gold production they have the same incentive as any other to reduce their labour costs. Indeed even a monopoly producer of gold would have an incentive to reduce labour input to production. The manager of a gold mine does not say - never mind about cost cutting and reducing employment since 'gold is not in competition with silver'. No he will try and reduce the number of workers employed to do a task just like the manager of a copper mine, or a tin mine would.
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