From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Sat Jul 14 2007 - 17:22:36 EDT
Claus I don't think that any of the participants in this exchange would dispute what you are saying about what Marx meant about SNLT being what was conserved in exchange. However, I am not sure where you find support for the following: "What Marx argues is that, in order for society to subsist, this exchange must be based on the exchange of equal amounts of labor: the use-value which each individual offers to the society mus be the product of the same amount of labor contained in the use-values he/she receives from the society in exchange" This seems similar to the formulation referring to future communist society in Critique of the Gotha Program, but I do not recall him presenting an argument of this form with respect to capitalist society. You say "Finally, robots are just machines. A society where robots produced everything could not be a capitalist society, because the robot-machines would be the private property of a few individuals, thus how would the mass of the non-owner people live, since there would be no employment for them?" This is obviously a pertinent question, not unrelated to the general problem of technological unemployment. A sufficiently powerful and ruthless capitalist class might simply allow the former working class to die off due to poverty and disease. The contemporary Russian capitalist class seems to have been following this strategy. Otherwise, the capitalist class might be willing to pay sufficient taxes to support an idle proletariat on the dole. -----Original Message----- From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of cmgermer@UFPR.BR Sent: 14 July 2007 04:03 To: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU Subject: Re: [OPE-L] equality versus equivalence Dear Paul, Fred, Andy and Ajit, It seems to me that in Marx's theory the scalar must be labor and that the equivalence between two commodities in exchange (x com A = y com B) means precisely equality of labor times. This seems to me to be clear in Marx's presentation: the substance of value is abstract labor; the quantity of value is the quantity of social labor (SNLT). Hence, when Marx says that what is meant by = is equivalent values, he is saying that what is meant is *equal* labor times (SNLTs). Please observe the following passagens in ch. 1 of Capital: "But since x blacking, y silk, or z gold &c., each represents the exchange-value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c., must, as exchange-values, be replaceable by each other, or *equal* to each other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange-values of a given commodity *express something equal*;" "...1 quarter corn = x cwt. iron. What does this equation tell us? It tells us that in two different things - in 1 quarter of corn and x cwt. of iron, there exists in *equal quantities* something common to both. The two things must therefore be *equal* to a third ..." Now, why must labor and nothing else be the scalar? Because the human being depends on his/her labor to subsist, but not on the individual labor providing the needs of each individual, but on social labor, i.e., division of labor, in such a way that each individual provides society with the product of his/her labor, and receives in exchange what he/she needs. What Marx argues is that, in order for society to subsist, this exchange must be based on the exchange of equal amounts of labor: the use-value which each individual offers to the society mus be the product of the same amount of labor contained in the use-values he/she receives from the society in exchange. Please observe the following two passagens by Marx: '(...) if society wants to satisfy some want and have an article produced for this purpose, it must pay for it. Indeed, since commodity-production necessitates a division of labor, society pays for this article by devoting a portion of the available labor-time to its production. Therefore, society buys it with a definite quantity of its disposable labor-time. That part of society which through the division of labor happens to employ its labor in producing this particular article, must receive an equivalent in social labor incorporated in articles which satisfy its own wants' (Marx, Capital, vol. 3, Int. Publ., p. 187). 'Now since (...) [the laborer's - CMG] work forms part of a system, based on the social division of labor, he does not directly produce the actual necessaries which he himself consumes; he produces instead a particular commodity, yarn for example, whose value is *equal* to the value of those necessaries or of the money with which they can be bought. (...) If the value of those necessaries represent on an average the expenditure of six hours' labor, the workman must on an average work for six hours to produce that value' (Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p.104). Finally, robots are just machines. A society where robots produced everything could not be a capitalist society, because the robot-machines would be the private property of a few individuals, thus how would the mass of the non-owner people live, since there would be no employment for them? Comradely, Claus Germer.
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