[OPE-L:6378] Re: Re: Historical, real and current costs

Paul Cockshott (wpc@faraday.org)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 10:31:21 +0100

C. J. Arthur wrote:

> I had in mind passages like "Labur creates value but is not itself value'
> (Fowkes tr. 142.) I suspect your counterexamples taken in context would
> fall within this restriction.

Whether labour is value is not the same question as whether value is labour.
All value is labour but not all labour value.
Non-social labour is not value. Social labour of the required intensity is value.

> >Surely the point is that he is concerned with examining social relations,
> >relations
> >between people. Exchange value is a relation between people mediated by
> >things. Human beings do not enter into social relations with the sun, though
> >in religion they may imagine that they do. Thus the sun and other natural
> >features of the environment as non participants in social relations are
> >non-creators
> >of value. This is not to say that they do not set the conditions under which
> >people work and as such influence how much labour is required for tasks.
> >
> Agreed - but we need to say more about why and how the determination of
> value is social and not natural

The word 'value' was used in a specific technical sense by marx, in which he
definedit as being socially necessary labour time. He defined it in this way
because he
was interested in exposing class relations of exploitation.

If ones object of investigation was different, studying the nitrogen cycle, one
chose to define the nitrogen value of a food crop as the sum of the
fixed nitrogen applied as fertilizer +
nitrous oxides absorbed from rainfall +
nitrogen fixed by bacteria in root nodules

The nitrogen value, so defined, might turn out to be a useful concept within this
The utility of defining value in terms of the labour required to make things is
1. It is overwhelmingly the most important determinant of exchange values and
thus of prices in the real world.
2.It enables one to model price aggregates as time aggregates, in which form,
class relations hidden behind money relations become self evident.