[OPE-L:186] RE: the book on wage labor

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Sun, 1 Oct 1995 14:03:49 -0700

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On Sun, 1 Oct 1995 Michael Perelman <michael@ecst.csuchico.edu> said:

>> Paul
>> ----
>> Do you mean is not measured or can not be measured. Some things
>> are in principle impossible to measure, either because of
>> their ontological status - the love of God -, or because they
>> are conjugate observables like position and momentum. But there is
>> no reason in principle why, with full knowledge of working
>> conditions throughout the economy, abstract labour could not
>> be measured. Clearly this does not happen now, but there
>> seems no reason to rule out as impossible in all future
>> societies.
>How can you measure abstract labor. Is your work worth 5.164 times as
much as
>a supposedly unskilled worker? If we use wages as a way of valuing
>labor, we are resorting to prices to calculate values, which some might
want to
>use to calculate prices .....
>Michael Perelman
>Economics Department
>California State University
>Chico, CA 95929
>Tel. 916-898-5321
>E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu

It seems to me that once again we are into one of the problems of CAPITAL
-- the measurement of abstract labor. For Marx, the only concrete labor
that is immediately abstract is the labor that produces gold, the universal
equivalent. For me, that means that other concrete labors become abstract
only via the process of exchange. To add up the concete labor times in
society might be an interesting exercise for those studying to be modern
economists but I am unclear about what this has to do with Marx's efforts