[OPE-L:2362] RE: NB: conlee

Gil Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Sun, 26 May 1996 12:50:23 -0700

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In response to the following,

>It strikes me that this supports my interpretation, which is to treat labor
>power as a capacity to labor (from which labor is
>problematically extracted) rather than as a commodity. If labor
>power is understood to be a commodity by definition, there is no
>basis for such "endless struggle"--indeed, the phrase has no
>meaning, just as "endless effort to make celery a vegetable" would
>have no meaning. Gil

Chai-on writes:

>I do not think there could be no basis for the class struggle for the
>reason that labor-power is taken to be a commodity.
>Labor power, unlike other commodities, are not containing direct labor
>along with indirect labor.

This is true as a matter of standard analytical practice, not as a matter of
fact or principle . Marx says "The value of labour-power is determined, as
in the case of every other commodity, by the labour necessary for the
production, and consequently also for the reproduction, of this specific
article." [I, p. 274, Penguin] Thus, if creation of labor power requires
direct labor---and of course it does--then this should be included as part
of its value.

> Those commodities that contain indirect labor
>only (eg. relics which are no longer produced currently) are to be
>valued in accordance with market situation (which I call represented
>labor), and so have no relation with embodied labor-value.

Indeed that would be true even if these 'relics" contained no labor at all,
indirect or otherwise, as in the case of unimproved land, or a fragment from
a meteorite being sold for its novelty value.

>Such commodities that do not have any relation with embodied labor-
>value have their prices dependent on the negotiations between sells
>and buyers.

This is no more or less true for exchangeables without labor value as for
commodities with labor value. Whether or not prices are "dependent on the
negotiations between sellers and buyers" is a question of market structure,
not underlying value content.

> Since their buyers have a force against the sellers, the
>sellers, too may well want to exert such a force in the negotiation.
>A commodity is anything that is traded with money. Labor-power, too
>cannot be an exception in my humble opinion. Land, too is a commodity
>no matter whether it is produced by human labor or not, and whether it is
>done by the capitalist method or not.

What about Marx's additional stipulation that a commodity must be an item
**produced** for exchange?