[OPE-L:4574] Vintages

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 14:29:05 -0800 (PST)

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John, OK, it seems that there are a lot of "previous notions" in our
respective brains that it is better to clarify. After all this is
tje aim of ope-l. Sorry if I am confusing the discussion.


> I have no problem with Marxs definitions in Vol. I, Ch. 12. I am
> willing to pursue his example in that same chapter. Further, his
> measurements are fine with me.

OK, this is also my purpose. The idea is to understand Marx's example
in I, 12.

John (re-arranged):

> I am beginning to think that using the idea of MEL may introduce
> more
> confusion than we need in a situation that is already confusing.
> a. I am assuming that we do have a money commodity whose value is
> constant.
> d. Again, it seems to me that Marx himself gave a fairly simple
> way to look at this situation, given it is not easy to understand.
> Im unclear why we are now using concepts like MEL, money-values,
> labor-values, etc. Have we lost the relatively simple concepts
> of individual value and social value? If so, why?

But in the example of Ch. 12 the MEL of the living labor of more
productive capital does differ from the average. In this example I
find the concepts of MEL and a distinction between money-values and
labor-values (and also the concepts of individual and social value).
I think that, in order to take into account ALL the features of
Marx's presentation I also focus on the MEL, not only in those

IMHO the KEY passage of the example in Ch. 12 is the following (he
refers to the more productive capital):

The value of the product of working day of 12 hours is 20s
[s stands for "shillings"]
Of this sum, 12s represent the value of the means of
production, a value that merely re-appears in the finished
There remains 8s, which are the expression in money of the
value newly created during the working day. **This sum is
greater than the sum in which average social labour of the
same kind is expressed: 12 hours of the latter labour are
expressed by only 6s.**
The exceptionally productive labour acts as intensified
labour; it creates in equal periods of time greater values
than the average social labour of the same kind. (Penguin,
p. 435)

What does this mean? IMO that in a more productive capital the MEL
corresponding to the working day is greater than the average, social
MEL. In the latter, 12 hours of average labor are expressed in 6 s.
(MEL = 0.5s/hour) while, in the former, 12 hours of "exceptionally
productive labor" are expressed in 8s. (MEL = 0.67s/hour). This is a
specific feature of the more productive capital.

The more efficient capital has a "complex" or "intesified" labor.
The ratio which reduces "complex" to "simple" labor is precisely the
ratio between both MELs; in this case: 0.67/0.5 = 1.33.

So, it seems to me that in the example of Ch. 12 the MEL DOES NOT
REMAIN CONSTANT, as (I think) you are suggesting. We cannot assume it
simply as a "exogenous factor". Moreover, Marx himself doesnt do
this. It is completely clear that the living labor of more productive
capital has a MEL **different** from the average.

Id want to note (on Michael's comment) that the piece I quoted
in the other post is precisely located in this context. So that when
Marx says that "the exceptionally productive labour... creates in
equal periods of time greater values than the average social labour
of the same kind" means exactly that the MEL of this labor > average.
I dont think that this is "as if" process, but a real process of
monetary representation of labor time.

> b. Given that we do have such a commodity, the idea that 1000 hours
> of "exceptionally productive labor" create the equivalent of 2000
> hours of the ordinary labor that produces the money commodity does
> not strike me as especially confusing.

What I want to emphasize is that this process is carried out by means
of a MONETARY representation and in Marx's example in Ch. 12 this
is precisely the case.

> c. If with an increase in productivity in one industry you note a
> change in the MEL and calculate a new MEL, do you then use that
> recomputed MEL to determine how much labor is spent in those
> processes where the labor is not exceptional? Are different labor-
> values represented in different money-values?

Well, Marx's example refers not exactly to "one industry" but to an
individual capital having a more productive technique.

No, the "recomputed MEL" corresponds exclusively to the more
productive capital. It is used to reduce the complex labor of this
capital to simple labor, which also give us the amount of labor-time
that the more effcient capital appropriates.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: In another message I am posting a part of an
old article in which I give my **detailed** interpretation of the
example of Vol. I, Ch. 12. Perhaps you have patience to read it.

Alejandro Ramos