Re: [OPE-L] Smith and Marx on the materialisation of labour [was 'basics v. non-basics']

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Fri Sep 30 2005 - 18:21:53 EDT


I think you are quite right here.. it is perfectly simple. With respect to
your final points. Social labour, a concept of uniform quality,  can only be
quantitatively  expressed in the market by money. There is no other way
that social labour  -  an abstraction -  can be uniformly expressed in
capitalist society.   I see the 'or' as ' in other words'...or 'as it

Paul Bullock.

----- Original Message -----
From: <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 2:25 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] Smith and Marx on the materialisation of labour [was
'basics v. non-basics']

> > I think it is in Theories of Surplus Value, when critizicing Smith
> > of his conception of the productive labour that did not include
> > labour performed outside the material (sensually tangible) production.
> Diego:
> The reference I believe you are thinking of is from _TSV_, Volume 1,
> Ch. 4 ("Theories of Productive and Unproductive Labour"), Section 4
> ("Adam Smith's Second Explanation: the View of Productive Labour as
> Labour Which is Realised in a Commodity").  See ||313|, about a page
> before ||314|
>           "The materialisation, etc., of labour is however not to be taken
>             in such a Scottish sense as Adam Smith conceives it.  When we
>             speak of the commodity as a materialisation of labour -- in
>             sense of its exchange-value -- this itself is only an
>             that  is to say, a purely social mode of existence of the
>             commodity which has nothing to do with its corporeal reality;
>             it is conceived as a definite quantity of social labour or of
>             money."  (Progress ed. -- Emile Burns translation -- p. 171).
> To begin with, Marx -- at least in the above translation -- didn't use
> the expression "too Scottish."   (but, I didn't check the _Collected
> translation or the German original for comparison).
> When he refers to "such a Scottish sense"  it sounds to me, put within
> the context of the above passage and Marx's time, that KM was
> basically saying that Smith conceived of the materialisation of labour
> in such a Scottish Enlightenment sense, e.g.  in a sense that  might have
> been used by David Hume, who of course was a contemporary and
> friend of Smith.
> [It seems to me that this has a _very_ different meaning today -- and
> for a long time historically -- than the expression "too Scottish."
> "Too Scottish"  is  today a pejorative and a nationalist slur against
> Scotts.  The stereotypes against Scotts -- which I won't repeat -- are
> similar to many of  the stereotypes  against Jews.  Even in  Marx's time,
> Scottish workers (and Scottish immigrants to the US)  suffered from a
> culture of "Scottish jokes"   and the stereotypes that were created
> (by English national chauvinists?) served as a pretext and ideological
> rationalization for discrimination.  Of course, many other nationalities
> were also negatively stereotyped --  e.g. consider the whole flood of
> "Irish jokes" that continue to be spread in many places of the world
> today.  It is certainly an expression that progressives should avoid --
> even had Marx used it.]
> *In any event*, I think I now grasp why you called attention to
> part of Marx's critique of Smith in the context of your exchange
> with Paul C.   In the passage above, Marx seems to be arguing that
> the materialization of labor in a commodity should not be taken
> too literally and "corporeally."   Thus, your criticism of the tables
> constructed by Paul C  in which there were natural units (physical
> quantities) such as "kilograms per annum say for iron and coal".
> Do you and others think the above passage has any implications for
> how we interpret passages which refer to "crystallized"  and
> "congealed"  labor time?   Doesn't it suggest that these expressions
> do not refer to "corporeal reality"  but rather concern a "social
> mode of existence of the commodity"?  In that sense,  these terms
> should not be taken too literally and are rather metaphors for
> a social relation.
> Note also in the quote above that a commodity is "conceived
> as a definite quantity of  social labour or of money."    Isn't Marx
> saying here that the  quantitative value of a commodity can be
> expressed as so much labour time _or_ as so such money?
> Should Marx have written _and_ instead of _or_?   In this passage
> isn't there clearly a link between the commodity,  money and labor
> time -- which is a very different understanding  than that of Sraffa.
> In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Oct 02 2005 - 00:00:03 EDT