[OPE-L:1259] international value

Paul_Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Thu, 29 Feb 1996 02:43:57 -0800

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Alan writes
I take the simplistic view that total abstract labour is a simple
total of actual labour hours. One hour of labour can create more
than an hour of value, but I think Marx's view is that such
individual differences are rapidly ironed out in the labour market. So
to all intents and purposes, 1 hour of concrete labour *contributes*
1 hour of abstract labour to the product. Finally, I think there are
no differences between sectors or countries, as to the average
value added by one hour of labour. Thus, to the extent that A might
add more value in 1 hour than B (through being more clever, or
perhaps through working harder) this is only measurable, and
can only express itself, in the production of a single sector and
a single country.

I agree with the first proposition here, but the
second one is questionable.

I take it that we would all agree that within a given
industry, it is possible for some producers to employ more
than the socially necessary labour time, and some less.

In the first case one hour of labour counts as perhaps
40mins socially necessary and in the latter as perhaps 70mins.

It is therefore possible to construct samples of producers
which are themselves disproportionately made up of ones
that employ more or less time than socially necessary.
In this case, the mean socially necessary time contributed
by an hour within these sub-samples of producers can diverge
from the mean for all producers and all branches of production
taken together.

Location takes such samples. The collection of producers in
Paris and the collection of producers in Lisbon will contain
different proportions of high productivity and low productivity
enterprises. Thus the average socially necessary labour
time contributed by an hour's labour in Paris and Lisbon
will not be the same. Thus cities can differ in their
rate of value added per capita, with corresponding differences
in wages at the same rate of exploitation. If wages are higher
in some cities than others, this is not because the employers
are more soft hearted, but because they can afford to pay
higher wages to more productive workers.

The same argument about samples also applies to countries,
though comparisons are made more complex in this case because
of tariff restrictions.