From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Fri Feb 27 2009 - 04:21:15 EST

Paula wrote:
> Dave: "If you are following Marx and classical political economy
> (esp. Ricardo) then you *are* using the concept of 'labour-value'.
> They took the quantity of social labour required to reproduce
> commodities to be the basis of their economic value. So when I'm
> saying 'labour-value' I'm mean 'value' in the classical sense."
> The basis of economic value for Marx is 'abstract labor'. Abstract
> labor is indeed social labor, but it does not follow that all social
> labor is abstract. The labor performed by a servant for his master is
> social, but it is not abstract.
How do you figure that?

As far as I am aware neither Marx nor Smith said anything of the sort.

> So what I'm suggesting is that the labor of a hairdresser or a retail
> worker is social in the same concrete sense that a servant's labor is
> social - ie, it is useful for others; but it is not abstract, because
> it does not produce commodities that are exchangeable with each
> other independently of their concrete usefulness.
Yes but it is the expenditure of human energy considered in the abstract.
> Paul C.: "An increase in productivity only increases relative surplus
> value if it reduces the necessary labour time. To do this it must
> enter directly or indirectly into wage goods. Thus labour which does
> not enter into
> wage goods can not reduce necessary labour time and can not produce
> relative surplus value."
> The abstract labor that enters into wage goods produces a value
> /equivalent/ /to/ /v, a part of /the new value produced by the laborer
> who consumes them. Obviously if v becomes relatively smaller, then s
> becomes relatively larger. But the whole of the new value (v+s) is
> produced through a new expenditure of abstract labor, /after /those
> wage goods have been consumed and transformed into labor-power. It is
> therefore legitimate to call this abstract labor /productive labor/,
> in the sense that it produces value.

 To say that some labour 'produces value' is just a metaphor or
rephrased way of saying
that labour had to be expended to produce a result. If the result is put
on sale, the price
it will fetch will be largely determined by the amount of labour that it
cost. Whether that
labour could contribute to increaseing the net social surplus value
product is what I am focusing on.
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Received on Fri Feb 27 04:23:03 2009

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