[OPE-L:2724] Re: More on abstract labour

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 08:31:58 -0700 (PDT)

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On Tue, 23 Jul 1996, andrew kliman wrote:

> Abstract labor as Marx understands it is the opposite of "directly socialised
> labour." The amount of one's labor-time that "counts" as abstract labor is
> only the amount socially necessary. It does not directly, immediately, count
> as labor. Marx's point is that Owen's labor money presupposes that society
> recognizes all the workers as immediately equal, such that an hour of one's
> work counts as equal to an hour of another's, irrespective of what the
> Stalinists termed the "quality" of their labor...

This would seem to reduce the concept of the "direct socialization of
labour" to a case of "I'm OK, you're OK". Marx's point re. Owen
is that Owen is talking about a planned economy, in which there are
definite social mechanisms for ensuring that (a) labour-time is
expended in socially useful rather than wasteful/redundant activities
and (b) that individuals work up to reasonable norms of
productivity -- mechanisms *other than* those of the market. Given
the existence of such mechanisms (but not otherwise), it is OK
to take the actual hours worked by an individual as so many hours
of "social" labour.