Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

From: Nicola Taylor (nmtayl@YAHOO.COM.AU)
Date: Thu Apr 07 2005 - 12:48:59 EDT


What do you mean "unit of cost in ANY society"?  Surely the notion of costing labour time (in units?) arose with capitalism?  So too the idea that a product "embodies" labour.  This notion of 'embodiment" only makes sense if you think that labour contributes 'value' to the product.  Is value specific to capitalism? Or: does labour contribute value in ALL societies?

You are right.  Reuten and Williams would not agree with you that it is "obvious" that SNLT is the measure of congealed abstract labour".  Indeed they would deny it. But: is it right to say that - because they disagree with you - they have NO argument?  I think not.

Are you sure that Chris disagrees on your point about exchange value?  I guess it depends what you mean by "materialist dialectics"?  Hey... let's leave it to Chris to chip in if he wants....


Andrew Brown <A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK> wrote:

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Well, mine ends up recognising labour time as the fundamental unit of cost in any society. And it recognises the product as an embodiment of labour in any society.

Then the inversion of capitalism turns ‘embodied’ labour into ‘congealed’ abstract labour and it is obvious that SNLT is its measure. This often tends to be denied in systematic dialectics despite, for example, Chris’s excellent ‘Dialectics of Labour’ from which I draw quite a lot (e.g. labour as concrete universal). Am much closer to Chris than others on these matters – perhaps my differences with Chris stem more from other aspects such as the basics of materialist dialectics whereby exchange value is clear evidence of a power and hence *must* have a material grounding.


-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Nicola Taylor
Sent: 07 April 2005 17:06
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?


actually, an argument has been presented many times.  Have you seriously read Reuten, Williams and Chris Arthur on the distinction between labour and labour power?

How is your conception of labour (and labour power) different from theirs?


Andrew Brown <A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK> wrote:

Rakesh, Nicky and all,

Rakesh is correct imo, with his comment below on Nicky's post. What I am
trying to do is answer Rakesh's question. Hegel-inspired systematic
dialecticians have never managed this, imo, in part because of their
lack of clarity on the nature of labour and labour-power (or maybe just
their disagreement with what I take to be the correct conception of

Many thanks,


>(imo) Marx's key insight into the social relations of capital is
>that workers trade their labour-power freely. i.e. the crucial
>distinction is not between humans, land, donkeys etc but between
>living *labour* and the *labour power* purchased for wages.

And why is the the crucial distinction? An argument has yet to be



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