Re: [OPE] Odyssey and the Peruvian treasure

From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Wed Feb 18 2009 - 09:55:20 EST

> 'abstract labour' is a historically specific form of 'socially equalized labour' under capitalism
> while I say
> 'abstract labour under capitalism' is a historically specific form of 'abstract labour in general'
> This is only a difference of definitions not substance.


Whether it is a matter of definition and/or substance depends on one's view concerning exactly
_what_ the characteristics of this historically specific form are. In my view, this (the labour-
form) is linked within a system of generalized commodity production to the generalization of the

> There are at least two reasons for maintaining this view. Firstly, it clarifies the notion of exploitation
> and surplus labour-time in certain non-capitalist modes of production.

I agree that it's important to clarify the separate forms in which exploitation takes place within different
modes of production. Hence the distinction between surplus product and surplus value, exploitation
and capitalist exploitation, product and commodity, direct laborer and wage-worker, et al.

> Secondly, labour-value is a scalar that measures the social *cost* of producing various use-values and
> is thus relevant for any economy that regulates the quantities of social labour in various branches of production,
> *even* in a large-scale socialist economy.

That was a point which Rubin made concerning 'socially equalized labour'. We don't need to claim that
there is 'abstract labour' under socialism to make this point and it only, imo, confuses matters because
of the linkage of this historically specific form to other forms associated with capitalism (the value-form,
value, the money-form, the capital-form, etc.).

In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Wed Feb 18 09:57:28 2009

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