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

From: Christopher Arthur (arthurcj@WAITROSE.COM)
Date: Wed Apr 13 2005 - 18:06:06 EDT

Nicky and all
Your appraoch is a social relations one which I think has to be right.
However there are two aspects conflated here. Namely a strictly
circulationist appraoch and one related to production. If the stress is on
buying and selling then we would have to admit that there is no difference
with machinery and land. All three 'factors' may be bought/hired. None of
them are produced by the indiviudal capitalist. But machinery is produced
by the class, so on a macro reading of value could be discounted. The
crucial distnction is the last you mention between living labour which is
not a value and hence a good candidate for a source of value and labour
power which is formally a value but in reality is not (because it is not
produced) and hence does not contribute as machinery does to the final
For me and you who stres time as the crucial quantitative form
determinaton, and for debates with Greens, the interesting question is the
dofference between labour labouring and nature naturing (e.g. maturing wine
etc). To conflate these time is precisely to miss the ontological
difference between natural/techical time and social time.
The slave case has always bothered me in its shape as plantation slaver
where it is clearly embedded in an M-M circuit. I guess I have to agree
with you that slaves are like donkeys, i.e. stubborn and coerced
physically, and of course bought outright not hired. However to some extent
this intermediate case may  be open to definition.
> What is important in Marx is the fact that labourers sell their *labour
>power* on markets.  They do not sell themselves.  Moreover, the *labour
>power* paid for in the wage must be converted by capitalists into *labour*
>- a process that is by no means assured.   Where people, animals and
>machines are *owned* the capital-labour relation cannot exist, in the very
>real sense that the sale of labour power does not take place; in relations
>of slavery, for example, workers do not willing sell their labour but on
>the contrary are traded body and soul against their will.  The slave owner
>may, if he choses, work his slave to death just as he may work a donkey to
>death. (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.   comradely Nicky
>Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM wrote:

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