Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?

Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 05:40:31 EDT

---------------------------- Original Message ---------------------------
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?
From:    "Riccardo Bellofiore" <>
Date:    Mon, March 12, 2007 3:54 am

Hi Howard,

in a commodity, value and abstract labour are a ghost. They take
reality only when takes a body, and the link btw value and labour is
secured through the (concrete) labour producing money as a commodity,
which is the ONLY immediately social labour, exhibiting the abstract
labour in the commodity. This is the point to be dealt with, and
resolved. See my papers.


ps: hint, one should follow in German the different terms and meaning
for "embodiment", and for "social" labour.

At 21:21 -0500 11-03-2007, Howard Engelskirchen wrote:
>Hi Rakesh and Riccardo,
>There's a wrinkle here that may be of interest, though it treads
>contentiously on old ground.   Within the last century philosophers became
>explicitly aware that two things that meant different things could in point
>of fact refer to the same thing.  The classic example is the morning and the
>evening star, Hespherus and Phosphorus (sp?).  Historically they were
>thought different and then it was discovered they both referred to the
>planet Venus.  In a forthcoming paper I argue the same thing applies to
>value and abstract labor.  They mean different things but refer to the same
>thing -- expended labor measured by time and rendered homogenous by the
>jostle of exchange.  The contentious part:  it is important to distinguish
>this original sense of abstract labor from the way in which the production
>of value shapes the character of labor under capitalism in its image.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Rakesh Bhandari" <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>
>Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2007 7:07 PM
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?
>>  Hi Riccardo you wrote:
>>  > I can only refer you back to my prior mail, and my writings. The
>>  > point however refers to this: abstract labour is only a capitalist
>>  > notion. Useful labour, it is not. Useful labour in capitalism is
>>  > concrete labour, that is a part of capital, indistinguishable from
>>  > it. It does not produce ANYTHING, if not as a part of capital.
>>  > Abstract labour is concrete labour seen as surplus money producing
>>  > labour.
>>  Abstract labor is the kind of labor which produces in the form a
>>  transubstantiated into  money, qua a social mediation, a purely
>>  quantitative claim on abstract social labor time, as a divisible and
>>  homogeneous substance. Capitalism produces historically specific kinds of
>>  abstractions and homogeneous substances. Sohn Rethel of course had
such an
>>  argument.
>>  Abstract labor is unique to capitalism in that
>>  i.the dominant function of labor is abstract,
>>  ii. against say the physiocratic fetish of agricultural labor social
>>  time as such comes to be understood and shaped in the image of money,
>>  as homogenous and abstract.
>>  iii. Moreover,   labor proves itself abstract as barriers to its mobility
>>  in and out of branches are radically reduced
>>  iv. the reduction of those barriers, along with the mobility of capital
>>  itself, results in the price of commodities becoming a function of the
>>  abstract social labor time required for their reproduction.
>>  I am sure one could strengthen the arguments for the historical
>>  specificity of abstract labor as a practical abstraction and of social
>>  labor time as an homogeneous and divisible substance and of the strict
>>  regulation of price by value...
>>  but my point is that it does not follow from the historical
specificity of
>>  abstract labor that labor is exploited under capitalism. Or perhaps it
>>  does, but I don't see the argument.
>>  It must be extracted from "labour power" of free subject (a
>>  > ONLY capitalist notion) AFTER the labour market, extracting living
>>  > labour from workers. All this is very specific. No work, no value
>>  > and surplus value. Before capitalism you could have said: well,
>>  > technology is stationary, so more output more effort.
>  >
>>  I don't understand the importance of the stationary nature of technology
>>  in your argument.
>>   Not so in
>>  > capitalism, which is quite "dynamic", so there is no reason to
>>  > attribute the surplus to workers. Actually, the surplus as such, as
>>  > a use value dymension, is due to capital, not to labour!
>>  Due to capital goods given the scientific knowledge embodied therein
or to
>>  capitalists in their supervisory rather than coordiation functions? Not
>>  following the argument.
>>  Leave it there for now.
>>  Yours, Rakesh
>>  >

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