[OPE-L:2639] Re: estimation of abstract labor

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 04:49:28 -0700 (PDT)

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Gerry wrote among other things:
>First: the relation of values to *prices of production* is a subject that
>relates to a less concrete level (and axis?) of abstraction than the other
>topics you raise, which I also believe are important for understanding
>the relation between value and *individual price* for individual


This is only because it has been written about in a very abstract
way. There is no reason why we should privilige differences in
organic composition as being more abstract/general than differences in
wage rates.

>Second: the existence of rent certainly has a role in the process of
>individual capitalist pricing. Yet, this is a subject that needs to be
>investigated in terms of the inter-relationship between capitalists both
>within individual branches of production and in different branches.


>Third: disparities in *wages* based on gender (*and* race, ethnicity,
>nationality, etc.) among capitalist firms need to be incorporated into a
>more concrete analysis, I agree. These disparities, as the work by
>Richard Edwards, Michael Reich, and [the late] David Gordon on labor
>market segmentation (and the "dual economy") suggest, vary greatly *among*
>different branches of production (and vary to a much less extent *within*
>specific branches of production in distinct geographic regions). Are you
>thinking of using this SSA (social structure of accumulation) distinction
>to grasp this topic more concretely or is there another methodology that
>you prefer?

I am not familiar with SSA.

>Fourth: regarding the productive-unproductive labor distinction, how is
>your empirical methodology different from that employed by [our own] Anu
>Shaikh and Ahmet Tonak?

I think it is similar but I have not yet read their book.

>Fifth: regarding productive and unproductive labor in terms of different
>modes of production within a capitalist social formation, how do you
>reconcile your interpretation with the following passage from Marx?
> "within capitalist production there are always certain parts of the
> productive process that are carried out in a way typical of
> *earlier modes of production*, in which the relations of *capital
> and wage-labour* did not yet exist and where in consequence the
> capitalist concepts of *productive* and unproductive labor are
> quite inapplicable." (Volume 1, Penguin, p. 1032: in the section
> on "Productive and Unproductive Labour" in the _Resultate_).

I agree with this, it just points out the difficulty of simply applying the
productive/unproductive distinction at the level of national accounts.

>Sixth: curiously, there is no mention of different degrees of trade union
>organization and militancy among workers in different branches of
>production and individual firms. Yet, these are factors that would lead to
>*wage* disparities as Marx explicitly notes (e.g. Ibid, pp. 1068-1071).

This is obviously an important factor too.
Paul Cockshott