Re: [OPE-L] A startling quotation from Engels

From: cmgermer@UFPR.BR
Date: Thu Aug 30 2007 - 09:40:52 EDT

I read very fluently and can write and speak 'understandably' enough I
think. Probably like my English. No hablo muy bien porque me falta la
practica yo creo.

> Claus, Do you speak Spanish?
> Alejandro Agafonow
> ----- Mensaje original ----
> De: "cmgermer@UFPR.BR" <cmgermer@UFPR.BR>
> Enviado: jueves, 30 de agosto, 2007 14:22:02
> Asunto: Re: [OPE-L] A startling quotation from Engels
> Hi Ian,
> thank you for your reply. I'm preparing to leave tomorrow for a
> conference, from which I'll be back only next wednesday. For this reason
> I'll not be able to answer now to your comments, but I'll do it after my
> return.
> I take the opportunity to inform to the list that a new association of
> political economists has been founded and is being organized in Latin
> America: SEPLA - Sociedad Latinoamericana de Economía Política y
> Pensamiento Crítico [Latin American Society of Political Economy and
> Critical Thinking]. It is largely based on the Brazilian experience of the
> SEP - Society of Political Economy, which has been founded in 1996. The
> conference I'm going to participate is organized by SEPLA with the title:
> PARA AMERICA LATINA [Challenges and proposals for an alternative project
> with socialist horizon (?) for Latin America]. The conference is a joint
> meeting of political economists and leaders of social movements.
> comradely,
> Claus.
>> Hi Claus
>> Sorry for the delay in replying.
>>> Thus the individual producer does
>>> not know in advance if he/she is or is not a part of the social
>>> reproduction. A product of labour having value means that it has been
>>> accepted as product of social labour, i.e., has been sold; not having
>>> value means that it has not been accepted. Having produced something
>>> that
>>> cannot be sold means to have been excluded from the social
>>> reproduction,
>>> and this condition cannot go on if the producer wants to survive.
>>> He/she
>>> must be accepted again as a member of the social reproduction, which
>>> implies that he/she must insert again his/her particular labour as part
>>> of
>>> social labour, i.e., he/she must produce something that meets a social
>>> demand.
>> I agree in general with your characterization. But now I wonder
>> whether this is, again, a terminological issue.
>> I interpret "having value"  to refer to the "total labour-time
>> required to produce a commodity under the given conditions of
>> production". So a commodity "has value" regardless of its fate in the
>> marketplace.
>> The unqualified term "value" is highly ambiguous. So I am beginning to
>> try to avoid it. I prefer to use the terms labour-embodied and
>> labour-commanded when contrasting actual labour-time expended and the
>> amount of social labour-time that equalizes with it.
>> I agree that the labour-embodied in a commodity that does not sell is
>> not "social labour" in the sense that it fails to equalize or exchange
>> with other labour. The labour-embodied in the commodity is positive,
>> but the labour-commanded by that commodity is zero.
>>> It seems to me that you use an unusual concept when you say that there
>>> is
>>> "labour-value regardless of whether it meets a social demand or not".
>>> To
>>> be a product of labour, particular labour, is not the same thing as
>>> being
>>> a product of social labour. Having value does not mean not having
>>> required
>>> labour, it means that the labour spent is not social labour.
>> I don't think my concept is unusual but rather standard. Marx in Vol
>> I: "We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value
>> of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, or the
>> labour time socially necessary for its production." The modifier
>> "socially necessary" does not refer to the existence of sufficient
>> social demand, but to the prevailing conditions of production.
>> There has been some semantic drift from Marx's definition due to some
>> more modern interpretations that I do not agree with.
>>> Claus: I totally agree with you about the requirement of the allocation
>>> of
>>> the total labour-time in all societies. This is basic in Marx's theory.
>>> What I don't agree is that labour-time expresses itself as value in all
>>> societies.
>> Again, this may be a terminological dispute. What do you mean by
>> "value" in that last sentence?
>> Certainly money and prices are not present in all societies. But
>> articles that require a definite, objective amount of labour-time to
>> produce, given the level of technology, is present in all societies.
>> (Unless we have left the realm of necessity, which seems unlikely for
>> quite some time).
>>> I interpret Marx's point of view as saying that the expression
>>> of labour-time as value is specific of the merchant economy and of
>>> capitalism. It does so because in the merchant economy labour as the
>>> source of all wealth is obliterated by the non existence of a social
>>> plan
>>> of production and is disguised as value expressed as exchange-value in
>>> the
>>> form of money. Where there is an explicit plan (like f.i. in feudalism)
>>> labour time appears clearly and does not need to express itself
>>> indirectly.
>> Monetized markets and widespread commodity exchange were ubiquitous in
>> feudal times. Some parts of the division of labour were partially
>> governed by the spontaneous operation of the law of value. I agree
>> however that certain cases of exploitation -- e.g. the corvee peasant
>> -- are more transparent due to the direct and personal provision of
>> surplus labour.
>>> The analogy you make between the thermometer and money (which is the
>>> form
>>> of value) are imo not valid. Although temperature exists without
>>> thermometers, value does not exist without money, because money is the
>>> way
>>> through which the individual labours are converted into social labour,
>>> which money represents. The sale of the commodity, i.e. its conversion
>>> into money, is what asserts it as the product of social labour. Thus,
>>> value and money are social phenomena that evolve side by side.
>> I very much agree that social labour and money are two sides of the
>> same coin that historically evolve side-by-side. Money, as you say,
>> *represents* labour-value; but it is not *constitutive* of
>> labour-value. It requires a definite amount of labour time to produce
>> an article regardless of whether the society uses money or not. Such
>> articles will "have value" even in a planned economy, for example.
>> Best wishes,
>> -Ian.
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Sé un Mejor Amante del Cine
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