[OPE-L:4997] Re: Production and Circulation

Michael Williams (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Tue, 13 May 1997 15:44:00 -0700 (PDT)

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> Paul C:
> In my view this is really putting the cart before the horse.
> It is the fact that human labour is a polymorphous productive
> capacity that makes it abstract, not the commodity form of its
> product. The abstraction of labour is realised whenever people
> change jobs. It is this, and only this that gives abstract labour
> any meaning. If people could not change jobs, it would make no
> sense to abstract from what they are presently doing and treat
> their time alone as a social resource. If they could not change
> jobs, but were genetically programmed to perform the same thing,
> a market system would be impossible.

Well now, it is clear that what is at issue is what is the horse and what
is the cart (and look out when the beast starts to lift its tail ...). For
me (and for my reading of Marx, that does I admit involve making a series
of choices about which passages should be accepted more or less as are, and
which have to be tortuously interpreted or explained away), this poly
whatsit stuff that Paul is talking about is, if anything, a transhistorical
condition of the possibility of the emergence of abstract labour as the
(a?) key category for grasping capitalism. We would wait a long time for
the actual manifestation of abstract labour if it were to depend on
flexibility and mobility of labour that even in the evil eighties and
nauseous nineties has barely begun to be realised.

> Paul C
> It is not easy as you want to sneak an almost neo-classical conception of
> value
> in the back door with this talk of value being born at the intersection
> of production and exchange.

Michael W

It's in Marx, Paul. And neo-classical economics is not without its - albeit
systematically partial and therefore ideological - insights.

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

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