RE: [OPE] intermission

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Thu Nov 05 2009 - 10:56:54 EST

What you say is obviously true, the distinction I was trying to make was the marginal labour required to produce a new item of knowledge - say to write a book, as opposed to the mass production of knowledge or information by a commercial company: drug company for example. In writing a book the author uses prior results of labour, but this is also true of any labour process. The difference is that the prior results of labour are not 'used up' in the production of knowledge.

There is a definite additional increment of labour required to write a book, or design a new microchip, I don’t see where the problem is here.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Paula
Sent: 04 November 2009 22:32
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] intermission

wpc wrote:
> One must distinguish 3 things here:
> 1. The labour required to produce an individual isolated piece of
> knowledge
> 2. The labour required to reproduce this knowledge
> 3. The labour requird to produce knowledge as part of an organised and
> repetitive process.

Many problems with this. For example, there's no such thing as 'an
individual isolated piece of knowledge', because knowledge builds on
knowledge. Suppose you write this novel called Ulysses where you pull
together all sorts of ideas accumulated over your lifetime, mixed-in with
ideas borrowed from other authors - going back at least to Homer. When was
the labor of writing this novel performed, and who actually performed it?

Such labor IMO has no value (though of course it has a use-value). There's
no such thing as the average amount of labor-time needed to produce a novel
or to invent a microchip. Our 'knowledge economy' might well assign a
*monetary value* to it, but that's a different matter.


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