Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 23:12:10 EDT

>Dear all who are interested in this topic;
>Reading a series of debate on this topic, let me briefly send a sort of my vot
>e broadly in favour of Anders and Hans.

Hans will clarify, but I understand him to have excepted only the
most exceptional kinds of qualified labour  (Einstein and John
Lennon) from the reduction. His position is not as critical as
Anders'. Perhaps I have misread.

Hans implied at least that most kinds of qualified labor can be
reasonably reduced to average simple labor. There is in fact a small
though not vanishing materialist remainder or outside to the
conceptual logic of value even as the logic of value does conform to
the vast majority of commodities produced by average simple and
skilled labor alike--that is, the reduction does explain a real
process at work.  And since Marx was interested in exactly those
objects which are mass commodities and can thus be easily reproduced
in varying quantitites,  the works of genius or masters stand outside
the laws of commodity production.

>  As my position on this issue is expres
>sed already in my paper 'Skilled Labour in Value Theory' (in Capital and Class
>, 3 1, Spring, 1987, and chap.6 of my book, The Basic Theory of Capitalism, Ma
>cmil lan, 1988.), though it may be somewhat different from Marx or most of his
>  followers.

Makoto, could you indicate in what ways it is different?  Hilferding
and Rubin seem to me to capture the reduction as a dynamic process.
What is wrong with their old arguments which I don't think have been
understood well?


>All the best,
>Makoto Itoh
>----- Original Message -----
>>Date:         Tue, 12 Jun 2007 21:32:35 -0400
>>From: Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM>
>>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital
>>Hi Ian,
>>I don't think so.  You start with concrete labor.  That's all there is.  You
>>take the products of these separate concrete activities to market.  Each
>>will represent a portion of the aggregate.  Skilled labor of 2 hours, since
>>it is more intense than the average, will represent 8 hours of the
>>aggregate.  And 9 hours of particularly unskilled labor may count for only 3
>>hours of the aggregate.  So now the 2 and 9 hours of concrete labor have
>>been objectified in products that represent 8 and 3 hours of abstract labor.
>>But all you have is one mass of labor of which different products represent
>>proportions.  The aggregate equals the aggregate.  There's nothing else that
>>figures in.
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: "Ian Hunt" <ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU>
>>Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 8:25 PM
>>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital
>>>  I think it must be a bit more complicated than that. We might equate
>>>  the total hours of abstract labour with the total hours of concrete
>>>  labour, but when it comes to socially necessary abstract labour,
>>>  which is what money expresses, if 8 hours of concrete skilled hours
>>>  is four times as productive as 8  unskilled hours of the same kind of
>>>  work, then the 8 hours of unskilled work will equal 2 hours of
>>>  socially necessary abstract labour if the skilled work equals 8 hours
>>>  of socially necessary abstract labour.
>>>  A better way of determining the total amount of abstract labour in
>>>  hours would be to take each kind of concrete labour-ie, labour
>>>  producing a specific use value-and find the total of hours of work
>>>  equal to the most productive hours worked (which is one conception of
>>>  socially necessary abstract labour) or the total number of hours
>>>  equal to the productivity of the work that earns the average return
>>>  (another conception of socially necessary abstract labour as the
>>>  labour of the market price setting technique of production).
>>>  >By adding up the hours of work done, you'd be abstacting from other human
>>>  >activities, etc., but you would not be abstracting from the activity of
>  >> >labor.  You would be counting hours of concrete labor.  Still, I agree
>  >with
>>>  >your proposition because the totality of concrete labor is all there is
>>>  >constitute abstract labor.  Total concrete labor necessarily equals total
>>>  >abstract labor.
>>>  >
>>>  >Howard
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >----- Original Message -----
>>>  >From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
>>>  >Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:12 PM
>>>  >Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >Michael
>>>  >-------
>>>  >
>>>  >You could do that, but then you would be ignoring abstraction altogether.
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >On Tue, Jun 12, 2007 at 12:05:04AM +0100, Paul Cockshott wrote:
>>>  >>   Michael P
>>>  >>
>>>  >>  What I meant was that it is hopeless to think that anyone could
>>>  >>  quantify the amount of abstract labor in an economy.
>>>  >>  ------------
>>>  >>  Paul C
>>>  >>
>>>  >>  Why not just add up the number of people who work then multiply by
>>>  >>  the fraction of the year that they each work?
>>>  >>
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >On the contrary I would be using abstraction, since I would by
>>>  >adding up all the hours of work done, be abstracting from the concrete
>>>  >form in which the work was done, and counting it only as human labour
>>>  >in general --- in the abstract.
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >--
>>>  >Michael Perelman
>>>  >Economics Department
>>>  >California State University
>>>  >Chico, CA 95929
>>>  >
>>>  >Tel. 530-898-5321
>>>  >E-Mail michael at
>>>  >
>>>  --
>>>  Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>>>  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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