[OPE-L:3516] RE: Productive and Unproductive Labour

S.Mohun (S.Mohun@qmw.ac.uk)
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 03:13:46 -0700 (PDT)

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What a mess when you do something too quickly. This is a partial comment on
Andrew's ope-l 3509. (More detailed comments will follow next week.)

>A reply to Simon's ope-l 3506, which I found very interesting.
>Simon: "Consider the l vector in the standard value equations. This refers to
>'value-creating labour-power hired'."
>I don't think this is the case. In Marx's theory, labor-power does not
>produce value. Labor does. IMO, the l vector indicates the amounts of
>productive (value-creating) *labor* extracted per unit of output.

Andrew is quite right here. The l vector in the value equations refers to
value-creating labour performed.

>We have, in
>money terms, elx = V + S, where e (dimensions: money unit/labor-time)
>indicates the monetary expression of value. V is the money wage bill paid to
>workers who perform productive labor: V = w(lpp)x, where w is the money wage
>per-unit of labor-power (assume it is scalar for simplicity), and lpp is a
>vector (for simplicity) of productive labor-power hired per unit of output.

I would prefer to say that V is the value of labour-power per hour of labour
hired multiplied by the number of hours of labour-power hired. When V is
multiplied by the value of money it is then the total wage bill. But this is
a different conception of the monetary expression of value, the inverse of
the value of money. I think it is defined by Andrew's equation above. I
think that Andrew defines it differently.

>Simon: "Now the l vector in the price of production equations refers to hours
>labour worked, which when multiplied by the wage gives the wage cost of
>production. On the face of it, this is not the same l vector."
>I agree that there is a confusion often involved here. It stems from the
>non-Marxist origin of these equations --- labor and labor-power are conflated.
> But there's a way around this. I agree with Simon's understanding of the l
>vector in the POP equations, which I however think is actually the same l
>vector as in the value equations, labor-hours per unit of output.

Actually, I don't agree with this. The l vector in the price of production
equations refers to hours
of labour which the capitalist has hired and has paid for at the going wage.
Surely that's what one means by the (labour) cost of production? So I don't
agree with Andrew when he says

>The wage rate in the POP equations is not a wage per unit of
>labor-power hired, but a wage per unit of *labor* extracted.

Sorry to muddy the waters. Andrew disagreed with my 3506 posting on the
value equations and agreed with my POP interpretation in that posting. But I
was wrong. So I agree with Andrew on the value equations (apart from the
value of money issue) and disagree with him on the POP equations. Apologies
for the carelessness.

But this was all preliminary to the issue of productive and unproductive
labour to which I hope to return next week. A quick query though - is
Andrew's interpretation much the same as that of Mage (in the early 1960s I

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