[OPE-L:502] RE: abstract labor -Reply

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Fri, 17 Nov 1995 03:03:57 -0800

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In message Wed, 15 Nov 1995 09:07:24 -0800, MATTICK@adlibv.adelphi.edu writes:

> Mike L (457) has misunderstood me--I was not arguing that "abstract
> labor" in the sense of substance of value can be applied in the
> analysis of all societies--in fact, I said expressly the
> opposite--but that the category of "labor", first developed in
> capitalism, can be used to think about other social systems, to which
> it cannot be applied directly. (Thus we can classify "labor" in Greek
> society as slave and free--something which one can't do in classical
> Greek.) Paul M.

I accept that I misinterpreted Paul M's meaning. (We don't seem far apart).
What Paul did say was:
"It is only in this mode of production that abstract labor as
a social category comes into existence, since this is a
(mis)representation of the social reality of waged labor. Once the
category exists, of course (Marx points out in the introduction to
the Grundrisse), it can be applied in the analysis of earlier
systems, or even in imagining a future."
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 255-0382
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e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca