Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Tue Jan 30 2007 - 18:33:29 EST

Hi Jerry,

Is it 'labor time' that is directly bought and sold?  Wouldn't it be more
precise to say that what is bought is the use of labor power for a specific
period of time?  The worker gets paid at the end of that time, not in
advance, so it looks like they're getting paid for the entire period.  But
in fact, they're getting paid for the value of their labor power, regardless
of the period of time they agree to work.  So what is bought and sold is a
commodity, and then the use of that commodity is put at the disposal of the
purchaser for the period of time agreed.

Anyway, the point you underscore about the difference between the commodity
as it emerges from capitalist production and the commodity as a precondition
of capitalist production is fundamentally important I think.  "Capital
cannot come into being except on the foundation of the circulation of
commodities (and money)," (943), ie the commodity as a precondition to
capitalist production.  We cannot collapse the distinction between value and
capital nor between the commodity as a bearer of value on the one hand or as
a bearer of value plus surplus value on the other.  But this raises issues
well beyond the scope of the question I originally raised.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 11:59 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

> > Capital's unpublished chapter, The Results of the Immediate Process of
> > Production, opens with a discussion of the commodity as the product of
> > capital.  Two and a half pages in Marx summarizes by making 3 points.
> Howard and Hans:
> For context and further explanation, see his NEXT division into 3 -- 1 1/2
> pages further on (end of page 953 until beginning of page 955 in Penguin
> edition).
> He suggests  (in the para beforehand) that "The *commodity* that emerges
> from capitalist production  is different from the commodity we began with
> as an element, the precondition of capitalist production."    He goes to
> suggest that "The commodity may now be FURTHER DEFINED as follows:
> ...." (emphasis added, JL).
> It's worth especially noting in this FURTHER DEFINITION of the commodity
> how "the *commodity* as the *product of capital* can be said to contain
> paid and unpaid labour." (p. 954)  |Note|
> In solidarity, Jerry
> |Note| He explains that "this is not strictly true since the labour itself
> is not bought or sold directly".  You can read this yourself, but  I
> interpret this to mean, in the context of the section, that it is "not
> strictly true" because *labour time* rather than labour itself is directly
> bought and sold.  Thus, he writes that a "portion of this objectified
> labour ... is exchanged for the equivalent of the worker's wages; another
> portion is appropriated without any equivalent being paid .... and it is a
> convenient abbreviation to describe the one as paid and the other as
> unpaid labour." (Ibid).

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jan 31 2007 - 00:00:05 EST