[OPE-L:5043] Re: To Paul C: about Colletti

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Fri, 16 May 1997 06:51:39 -0700 (PDT)

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It is a good 20 years since I looked at Colletti, but
on re-reading them I find his arguments unconvicing
as compared to Sweezy.

> Colletti's decisive point i well-known : "the process whereby 'abstract
> labour' is obtained, far from being a mere *mental* abstraction of the
> investigator, is one which takes place daily in the *reality of exchange
> itself*". Hence, at least on the surface, a view which points toward the
> value-form approach.
This is back to front. Commodities containing equal quantities
of labour are only sold at equal prices insofar as labour can really
be transfered between activities to allow the law of value to operate.
He is mistaken to treat Sweezys proposal as a mere mental abstraction.
It is not on a par with a mental abstraction like 'alkali metal' which
groups Li, K, Na etc together, since unlike a Lithium atom, which
can never turn into a sodium atom, a person can change their profession.
I can work either as a computer programmer or as an economist. This
is a fundamental property of those societies in which agents learn
their roles as distinct from those societies in which roles are ascribed
at birth - among the hymenoptera for example.