[OPE-L:4629] Re: Four-cornered triangle

Ajit Sinh (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 23:04:52 -0800 (PST)

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At 04:08 PM 3/30/97 -0800, Mike P. wrote:
>andrew kliman wrote:
>> Hence, it is possible to measure the amount of abstract labor by the clock.
>> It is not possible *directly* to say how much of that abstract labor
counts as
>> socially necessary in any particular case.
>How is it possible. If every worker's hour counted as a single hour,
>there would be no problem. The problem arises because some labor counts
>as multiple of others. How do we calculate that multiple? Not by labor
>market price (i.e., wages)?
>Michael Perelman

In my opinion, this is exactly how both Ricardo and Marx proposed to reduce
skilled to simple or 'abstract' labor, ie. by wage differentials. I think,
it is not an improper way to do it. The other way would be Bob Rowthorn's
method, which probably is more appropriate for modern days, where production
of training has become a commodity.

But the important question is what is 'abstract labor'? Nobody has seen
anybody ever perform 'abstract' labor. All performed labors are concrete
labor. There are, I think, two ways of reducing concrete labor to 'abstract'
labor. One is what Andrew proposes, with which I agree with ;) and which, in
my opinion, is gonna get his theory more in trouble later. Anyway, abstract
labor is simply understood as most simple form of labor in any given
culture. This was the general understanding used by classical economists,
and I think, Marx also used it. Here 'abstract' labor basically means
'homogeneous' labor. The second way to do it is to suggest that the 'market'
does the abstraction. This is more popular with anti-Sraffian Marxist, and
the best example of this approach could be found in Ulrich Krause's MONEY
AND ABSTRACT LABOUR. Here you start off with price relations and then impute
abstract labor to the commodities from their given price relations. Though
in this procedure the transformation problem vanishes, it leaves us in a
vicious circle nevertheless. Cheers, ajit sinha