[OPE-L:4563] Duncan's vintages

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 07:04:58 -0800 (PST)

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(A) John E. (snip) in # 4555 commented by Alejandro:

> Why not use terms like individual value and social value to explain
> this? Why not, at first, assume a money commodity or a constant
> MEL?

-- OK, I can use these terms but I propose to all (you, Michael, Alan
and myself) to DEFINE them previously. I also think that to work with
simple numerical examples help us (I suggest one below). So, what do
you mean by "invididual value" and "social value"? How are measured?

-- I can assume a constant MEL (or use ONLY labor-time as measure of
value) but only in the **very previous** stage of the analysis (as in
the example below, commenting Alan's post) because the change in
productivity in itself changes the MEL. This is a key element of
the analysis and I think that part of the confusion arises from the
omision of this change. So, when Marx says:

The exceptionally productive labour acts as intesified labor;
it creates in equal periods of time greater values that the
average social labour of the same kind... (Capital I, p. 435,

I read that these "greater values" are MONEY-VALUES, NOT LABOR-
VALUES. If I omit the distinction between money and labor measures of
value, I cant understand or... worst I can think that 1000 hours of
"exceptionally productive labor" ARE 2000 hours. This is an error.
1000 hours are always 1000 hours of LABOR-value. But they can be
REPRESENTED in an amount of money ("greater value") which represents
2000 hours. "Exceptionally productive labor" means labor which
"yields" more MONEY than the average.

To omit the analysis of the changing (or different) MEL only drive us
to confusion. This is not merely a "practical simplification" but a
distortion of the problem.

(B) Alan F. (snip) in #4554 commented by Alejandro:

> The initial question was: can labour from different time-
> periods (vintages) add different amounts of value?...
> can a change in productivity also change the value
> added, independent of a change in new (living) labour time?

No, it cant. In January was consumed 1000 hours to produce 1000
"pieces" in the whole branch, and in February the same 1000 hours
produce 2000 pieces. Total labor-value remains = to 1000 hours.

> First of all, at this point I want to exclude the distinction
> between individual and social value, though I dont object
> to a separate discussion on it. So my post said the workers
> were in a "branch of production", meaning all making the
> same use-value, like Marx when he speaks of a branch of
> production. We only know social value, therefore.

OK. Unit social-value in January was 1 hour/piece and in February is
0.5 hour/piece. In February more productive capitals objectified an
amount of labor per piece < 0.5 hours and less productive an amount >
0.5 hours. These would be individual labor-values.

> Second, I have not yet stated what the output is sold for.
> This was deliberate. In my view the value of output is given
> prior to its sale (and I think we all agree on that, no?). I
> have stated only that the workers make twice as much output.
> We can determine the value of that output from the
> circumstances of production, regardless of what it finally
> sells for, as I stated in my reply to Ajit.

Yes. Do you agree that the above example presents such a

> We can introduce variations later. What I want to get at now
> is this: if there is a pure change in productivity in the
> above sense, does it increase the output of value?

No, labor-value remains the same: 1000 hours. Productivity is
a feature of labor as concrete-labor but value is the
materialization of abstract labor.