[OPE-L:4610] Re: Four-cornered triangle

aramos@aramos.b (aramos@aramos.bo)
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 13:05:06 -0800 (PST)

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Alejandro R:

> > Does the problem of measurement involve only "abstract labor"?
> > How "the hell" do you measure "concrete labor"?

Michael P:

> Good questions. You could measure hours of carpenter labor, but not all
> carpenters are equal. I think -- maybe someone can correct me -- that
> Marx explains somewhere that capital would regularize such carpenter
> labor. I recall one letter about the U.S. where he suggested that
> workers were becoming abstract labor because workers could shift from
> one job to another. But elsewhere different sorts of abstract labor
> have different productivities.
> I suspect that Mike L. could clear up some of this.

Thanks Michael. Perhaps the text you are recalling is the following:

On the other side, this abstraction of labor as such is not
merely the mental product of a concrete totality of labors.
Indifference towards specific labors corresponds to a form of
society in which individuals can with ease transfer from one
labor to another, and where the specific kind is a matter of
chance for them, hence of indifference. Not only the category,
labor, but labor in reality has here become the means of
creating wealth in general, and has ceased to be organically
linked with particular individual in any specific form.
Such a state of affairs is at its most developed in the most
modern form of existence of bourgeois society --in the United
States. Here, then, for the first time the point of departure
of modern economics, namely the abstraction of the category
"labor", "labor as such", labor pure and simple, becomes
true in practice.

Grundrisse, pp. 104-5, Penguin