[OPE-L:2823] Re: mattick and abstract labour

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 01:04:50 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

Rakesh talking about Mattick:
>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.

Insofar as he is saying that abstract labour forces itself onto the day
to day concerns of people organising the labour process more under capitalism
than in other modes of production, this is plausible.

However, I would be more careful with terminalogy than you are above:
"fewer restrictions on what kinds of labor can take the value form".

What do you mean by this?

1. that all kinds of labour power (not labour) are for sale?

2. that all kinds of products of labour are for sale?

In neither case is it very precise to talk about labour "taking the
value form".

In any case I am still looking for someone who, in print, has systematically
argued that abstract labour only exists under capitalism. Mattick, as you
conceed, does not argue this in full blooded form.
Paul Cockshott