From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2006 - 12:54:57 EST
>Rakesh, let me try to reformulate your argument in my own >words, and concentrate on relations of production rather >than distribution. I think you are saying: even if the >labors of different individuals are not counted by society >as equals, it is a physiological truth that each labor is >the performance of human labor-power, and obviously the >amount of human labor-power available to society is limited. >Therefore it is justified to consider all labor to be a >portion of this use of the limited pool of available human >labor-power. > >My answer: of course you can make this calculation, but the >question is whether this calculation matters for society. >When I was working on the assembly line in Detroit in the >1970s, one of my proletarian friends on purpose disabled the >dishwasher in his apartment because he thought is was good >for wife and kids to wash and dry the dishes by hand. You >can easily compute how much labor this family is wasting, >but this labor-time calculation is a theoretical exercise >irrelevant for the day-to-day workings of the family itself. Hans, this is not what I mean by social labor. This is a case of private labor undertaken to meet immediately a private need. Social labor time is that time in which cooperative acts are undertaken for the production of social use values. Humanity must engage in social labor. > >Of course this example is limited. A single family cannot >insulate itself from the capitalist need to economize human >labor: perhaps the wife has to get a job, and suddenly the >dish washer becomes a necessity. A whole society however >can survive centuries despite wasting labor in similar ways; >indeed it may depend on similar labor-wasting practices >in order to maintain the inequalities without which it would >collapse. > >In other words: labor-time is a constraint in every society, >but it is not always a binding constraint, other constraints >may take precedence. Market relations tend to remove those >other constraints so that labor-time is the only constraint >left. Yet commodities do not exchange at values as determined by their own social production time. Even in capitalist society the value of a commodity in the sense of the social labor which it represents is not directly determined by production time alone. Yours, Rakesh > >Hans.
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