[OPE-L:4667] Re: Four-cornered triangle

Paul Cockshot (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 02:02:51 -0700 (PDT)

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> If all you need is a stopwatch to measure abstract labour (as Andrew
> proposed), then it's rather hard to understand why Marx made such a fuss
> about the concept of abstract labour, describing it as one of the best
> points in Capital, and why he was accordingly so critical of Ricardo and
> classical political economy and their ensuing confusion over money. That
> directly measurable "abstract labour" Andrew is describing doesn't seem
> that different to concrete labour or, indeed, far from the Ricardian
> conception.

Marx made such a fuss over the subject because he was trained in philosophy
in a German university in the early 19th century.
The concept is pretty simple however, as soon as one compares two labours
producing different things along the time dimension one has abstracted from
their concrete peculiarities and counted them as a portion of societies
disposable time. A stopwatch is bound to perform this abstraction since it
yields simple units of time out, stopwatch measurements contain no
about the particular purpose for which the time was used.