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

From: Ian Hunt (Ian.Hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Wed Apr 13 2005 - 21:17:32 EDT

If  can chip in here too. It is not clear that in total
mechanization, labour time would retain its significance: as Chris
suggests, the issue is that of a conflict of interest between
labourer and capitalist, when both have a formally equal social
standing. Machines, no matter how ingenious or creative, would have
no interests in potential conflict with capital unless they had lives
of their own and consciously pursued their own interest in those
lives. If they did and had formally equal social standing, then the
social relations of capital would have a place. On the other hand, if
they were persons but lacked equal social standing, we would have
slave or feudal commodity production: labour time no doubt would play
a role here but not the same as under capitalism.

I think it is best to take labour time as playing a part in social
relations of production, taken as the social distribution of
advantages (burdens and benefits) of scoial cooperation. Labour time
as the time taken to perform a concrete labour should be
distinguished from abstract labour time: the former indicates the
level of the productive forces in industries, the latter indicates
the exploitative nature of capitalist social relations of production
and the role of commodity exchange in realizing exploitation aunder

>Andy and all
>I have only just read this thread and note my name appears. I'll try and
>give my views by responding to key mails.
>I cannot agree at all with Andy here. Under conditions of real subsumption
>the only reason workers are employed instead of robots is that they are
>cheaper. creativity is simply not at issue. In previous work I have
>stressed flexibility but flexiblitiy can to a certain extent be built into
>robots. So this appraoch is a dead end for me. My appraoch looks to what is
>specific to the social relation of capitaism and I stress the actual or
>potential resistance of living labout to capital in the process of
>Incidentally marx took up the animal case in the Grundrisse 500-1 whaich
>suits my case.
>best wishes
>Chris a
>>The difference between labour / labour-power and machine input /
>>machine-power (or animal activity / animal-power) is that labour is
>>productively creative whereas machines are not, and animals are strictly
>>limited in this regard (the creative -- as opposed to innate -- production
>>of tools by animals is more or less rudimentary, where it occurs at all).
>>Hence it is the collective social choice (determination) of the
>>qualitative types of labour, and of their quantitive proportions, that
>>determines the realisation of the powers (potentials) of all other
>>resources. The current means of production and labour-power, plus the
>>current needs of society, act as *constraints* on the fundamental social
>>determination of the qualitiative types of labour and the quantitive
>>proportions of those types. These constraints themesleves being changed by
>>labour through time. It follows that the fundamental cost to society of
>>any product must be reckoned in the labour time socially necessary for its
>>production, since it the allocation of this labour time that is the
>>quantitative side of the fundamental process of labour determination to be
>>socially decided upon. The whole story in elementary (neo-classical)
>>economics of 'the economic problem' of allocation of labour, land and
>>means of production fails to recognise that the quality and quantity of
>>labour is not given to society at any point of time, but must be
>>determined, and that this collective determination of labour gives rise to
>>the realisation of the potentials inherent in all other productive inputs,
>>hence the proportionate allocation of those realised potentials. It
>>thereby fails to recognise that labour time is the sole quantitative unit
>>of social cost. In this it reflects the illusory outward appearances of
>>capitalism (appearances that give rise to the trinity formula).
>  >
>>Of course, it is only within capitalism that the quantitative side of the
>>process perversely takes leave of, and dominates, the qualitative side,
>>through the form of the exchange value of the product.
>>Finally, it should be noted that all this is terribly abstract: (1) in any
>>*class* society the determination of labour turns out to be the
>>determination of exploitation; (2) in capitalism, the abstract labour
>>substance turns out to but an aspect of capital, involving the specific
>>form of exploitation entailed in surplus value.
>>Many thanks,
>>P.S. Ian, if robots one day became able to creatively produce to the
>>extent of humans, then they would have become labourers, with social
>>relations of production, and labour time would retain its relevance.
>17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Head, Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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