[OPE-L:2822] Re: mattick and abstract labour

rakesh bhandari (djones@uclink.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 23:33:12 -0700 (PDT)

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In the chapter on the LTV in Marx and Keynes Mattick does argue that
abstract labor is category valid for all social formations. However, he
does not uphold "the straightforward view that abstract labour is just
human labour in general, something that has existed in all social
formations." I do agree though that he "recognises that the ability to
conceptualise this *as a category of political economy* arose historically
at the dawn of capitalist society." Moreover, I agree that "he makes the
obvious destinction between the history of ideas and the history of what
the idea refers to."

However, quoting from the Grundrisse, he argues that abstract labor only
becomes a *practical fact* under capitalist social relations. So while he
does not deny the *general validity* of the category of abstract labor, he
also emphasizes in what ways abstract labor only becomes a *practical fact*
in bourgeois society--fewer restrictions on what kinds of labor can take
the value form, all labor can in fact produce equal quanta of value, there
is therefore a *practical* and *modern* disregard for any special kind of
labor. As a practical matter or more generally as a practice, abstract
labor is unique to bourgeois society.

Before Paul jr quit the list, I think that you had an exchange with him
about the unique properties of the commodity form under capitalism. I
wonder if some of that discussion has relevance to this topic. I also
wonder whether I have misunderstood Mattick.