[OPE-L:5072] Re: question

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Mon, 19 May 1997 02:54:39 -0700 (PDT)

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here again I am forced to promise a future response. But here's a
brief resume. I think 1 is not relevant *here*; disagree with 2; 3 & 4 are
very important, and indeed fundamental in my views; 5 may be interpreted
differently according to the different solution i n 2.

We are 1000f the same opinion about money; only 750f the same
opinion about labour power. BTW, one thing is to say that labour power is a
very, very, very special commodity, another that it is not a commodity. But
though labour power is not the outcome of a private decision to produce it,
it is nevetheless something which the workers are compelled to sell on the
labour market against money (this I call a commodity), and because of that
they can buy only on the commodity market a share of the real output which
depends by (money and industrial) capital's choices about this latter, and
which are some specific use values. In this share of the real output is
then embodied a given amount of objectified living labour (this I would
call the value of labour power). This labour embodied by expressed by a
different labour represented in money according to the ruling prices.

Moreover. If you don't have the labour power as a (very, very,
very) special commodity, you cannot have the possibility to define and
measure (potential) surplus value in production. As, I think, you
consistently maintain.


At 12:12 -0700 18-05-1997, Michael Williams wrote:
>Most of what Riccardo says is interesting and persuasive. I look forward to
>giving it some close attention. But perhaps before I start, I should throw
>another stone into the rapidly calming pond:-
>IMO, no more than Money can logically be a Commodity can Labour-Power be
>one. It is, of course, systematically exchanged for Money on ubiquitous
>markets. However, it lacks several other essential characteristics of
>1. The partial truths of human capital theory notwithstanding,
>Labour-power, as an inseparable capacity of all human beings in the
>bourgeois epoch, is produced, not under capitalist relations of production,
>but in the private sphere. What is more it is not 'produced' with a view to
>exchanging it. It is my reading of the 'domestic labour' debates of the
>1970s that they concluded that whatever goes on in the family, it is not
>value creation, and certainly not valorisation.
>2. It has no Value related to the Abstract labour needed for its
>reproduction. (This of course is in disagreement with the 'linear
>production' view that underlying the wage is a bundle of subsistence
>commodities, that do indeed have a labour value.) Rather it is the creator
>of value
>3. It has no use-value, rather both its social and its individual
>usefulness is that it can create value. To the worker that bears it it is
>the income source ('of last resort', before welfare), for those who are
>wage workers just because they do not have property in non-labour means of
>4. Unlike means of production in the Commodity form, Labour-power can not
>just be 'switched on' at the command of the capitalist (as Jerry as
>elequently evidenced on a number of occasions recently).
>5. It is, of course, and therefore, grasped by the Value-form, in the shape
>of the wage.
>As Suzanne de Brunhoff long ago arged, both Money and Labour power are, at
>best, very peculiar Commodities.