[OPE-L:452] International value.

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Wed, 8 Nov 1995 13:02:39 -0800

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On Wed, 8 Nov 1995 mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp (Makoto Itoh) said:

>3. On the international evaluation of value, raised by John Ernst. This is

>surely related to the problem how to solve the theorectical issue of
>complex labour. I became suspect that Marx left unsolved the issue, and
>resultantly mishandled the theory of international value in chap.22 in the

>first volume of Capital. I tried to reformulate the basic issue in my
>Theory of Capitalism (6.1) though I did not come to extend the issue to
>international aspect. The point would, in my view, relate how to conceive
>a fundamental egalitarian ground in human capacity to work.
> =========================
I'll be honest and admit I have not read Makoto's BASIC THEORY OF
CAPITALISM, 6.1. I do think he has a point in relating the problem
to that of complex labor. I also think Freeman hits on the same issue
in recent posts when he notes that workers are not always able to
work with state of the art equipment in the process of production.

Let's take a look at a simple example. If the going rate for folding
of paper is $10 per thousand sheets and it takes me two hours to do the
job by hand, then my labor creates a value of $5 in each hour. A simple
hand folding machine would allow someone to do the same job in one
hour. That person's labor would create a value of $10 in one hour,
ignoring depreciation. Using a high speed folding machine, a man
I know, named Ray, can fold the 1000 sheets paper in 3 minutes.
At this rate, Ray's labor creates $200 in one hour, again assuming
away depreciation charges. Does all labor create the same value in
the same amount of time? Is this a question of complex labor?

More important, if Makoto is right that Marx did not pursue the question,
why not? Again, if nothing else, I think this example does raise
issues concerning the relation between concrete and abstract labor.
Can we actually know the amount of abstract labor time involved
without reference to prices and/or the value added in production?

John Ernst