[OPE-L:573] Re: International value.

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Mon, 27 Nov 1995 15:38:25 -0800

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Steve writes
It may seem to be a defence of Marxian orthodoxy to claim that
Hilferding is wrong in his analysis of skilled labor. But if
Hilferding is "wrong" on this point, so too is the logic
Marx used to uncover the source of surplus value, which he,
as Hilferding later does for skilled labor, identified in the
difference between the exchange-value of labor-power, and its


I think that Steve has a point here. My feeling is that Marx's
distinction between labour and labour power is a forced one.
As an explanation of what actually occurs in a capitalist
economy it has no great merit vis-a-vis  that advanced
by his ricardian socialist predecessors - that workers are 
cheated by being forced to sell their labour for less than
its value. 

It had, however, the great critical merit when dealing with bourgeois political economy of showing that even if one made the most favourable possible assumption - that workers were not cheated, exploitation would still take place. To do that he had to more or less take it as given that the value of labour power was determined by what it sold for. This is a necessary assumption to make for the sake of the critique of political economy, but it leaves us with a theory that has little predictive power. The notion of the `vleof labour power' is a necessary theoretical fiction for a particular form of critique, but it does little to tell us why real wages rise and fall.