[OPE-L:1] [OPE-L:222] Re: Chapter 1

Claus Germer (cmgermer@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Mon, 26 Oct 1998 14:11:43 -0200

Chris wrote in ope-l 195, 22.10.98:

> ... there are actually two questions not often discriminated. Why labor?
and What >is labor's measure? In my opinion the chapter 1 argument hardly
bothers to >address the second question. Why should time be the only
dimension of interest? >Why is intensity not relevant? Why not the social
status of occupation? Why not >energy expended? In my view it is because
capital cares only about time that the >relevant measure of labor is also


I understand that Marx gives precise answers to both questions within his
theoretical framework. I think one has to distinguish between an
insufficient answer within a given theoretical framework, and different
answers derived from different theoretical frameworks. In Marx's framework
the answers to the above questions obviously derive from his conception
about the foundation of social organization, as I see it: the human being
depends on his labor to survive, hence human society depends on social
human labor. It follows that, as long as the survival of society depends on
the articulated labors of the individuals that form it, the essential basis
of social organization consists of the relations among producers in the
social production. Several other elements - like those mentioned by Chris -
may be relevant, but theory is expected to abstract the essential factor(s)
in the phenomena under analysis, and different theories may differ because
of the different factors they see as essential.

[btw, intensity of labor is a very important factor in the development of

In the same way, I think Chris's suggestion that "it is because capital
cares only about time that the relevant measure of labor is also time" may
be sustainable, but it inverts Marx's reasoning, where capital
unconsciously cares about time because the underlying measure of value is
labor time. The appearance of capital pressuposes the existence of money,
which is the general equivalent of value, i.e, expression of abstract labor
measured by time, hence the determination of value based on labor time
precedes capital. I don't mean that Chris's reasoning is wrong and Marx's
is right, I only think that it seems to me that they express different
theoretical views about the basis of social organization. The distinction
between money and capital and the precedence of money are, imo, essential
elements in Marx's system.


Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Universidade Federal do Paraná
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Paraná

Tel: (041) 360-5214 - Ufpr
(041) 254-3415 Res.