[OPE-L:7194] [OPE-L:712] Re: Re: Re: Re: Use and abuse of mathematics [OPE 574]

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Sat, 20 Mar 1999 12:28:06 -0500 (EST)

Re Ajit's reply to the Blake passage

Ajit does not question that Marx's abstract labor theory of value should
not be collapsed with the classical theory of value. Whether Smith's theory
is really only a command theory and whether Ricardo moves in the direction
of labor as the cause, more than the measure, of value, it remains true
that neither develops an abstract labor theory of value or the idea of the
duality of labor, which Marx held to be the pivot of the critical

In no way do I find Ajit's insistence on getting right the differences
between Smith and Ricardo scholastic. It just does not seem to lead to a
dismissal of Blake's attempt to get at the differentia specifica of Marx's
theory of value. Nor do I question the importance of Ajit's critique (if I
follow it from the short description provided) of Marx that he tried
vainly to differentiate himself by more forcefully insisting that labor was
the cause, not the measure, of value.

Apparently following Meek, Ajit seems to insist that Chapter I is a model
of simple commodity production. Following Martha Campbell in her
contribution to the Heilbroner festschrift and Fred Moseley on this list, I
understand Marx to begin with bourgeois society in which the commodity has
come to be seen as the fundamental unit of wealth.

Without having read Blake, Ajit insists that he derives the concept of
abstract labor by magical incantation instead of through a meticulous
analysis of the peculiarities of the value form. The passage I cited was
only to wave a flag that Marx's theory of value should not be easily
collapsed with the classical, not to justify how Marx arrived at the
concept of abstract labor or Blake's interpretation of Marx's logic.

yours, rakesh

>I think the idea that labor is the *cause* of value must be given
>up--it leads to nowhere but dead ends. One should start thinking in
>terms of labor as *measure* of value. Though I disagree with the
>'new solution' proponents of transformation problem, I think they
>are on the right track by trying to use labor as a measure and
>having no truck with the causal relation with labor and value.
>I think Blake has no clue of what he is talking about. Any one who
>clubs Smith and Ricardo as having one theory of value is
>demonstrating that he/she has not read either Smith or Ricardo.
>Smith, of course, has no labor theory of value to begin with. He
>does use labor-commanded as unit of measure though. Though it is
>true that there is a confusion between labor as the cause of value
>and labor as the measure of value in the classical literature. It
>is Marx who vitiates more in the direction of *cause* than Smith
>and Ricardo (Smith, of course, moves in the subjective direction
>with his idea of labor as sacrifice).
>In the formula that it is the *abstract labor* that
>produces value, the word *abstract labor* is usually used as
>magical incantation that solves all the problem. Ask Blake to
>explain his *abstract labor*. One more point. Blake says that the
>reason for two fold character of labor is social, i.e. class
>division and social division of labor. But the fact of the matter
>is that in Part one of *Capital* I there is no class division. So
>which book Blake is reading? Cheers, ajit sinha