[OPE-L:7200] [OPE-L:719] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Use and abuse of mathematics [OPE 57

Ajit Sinha (sinha@cdedse.ernet.in)
22 Mar 99 13:10:19 IST (+0530)

Rakesh writes:
> 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
> conception.
For me the interesting question is not what "Marx held it to be"
but rather what is this "distinct" "Abstract Labor Theory of
Value"? This is what I want to know. If you or Blake or anyone on
the list has an answer, then we can take it from there and see what
kind of theory it is.
> Rakesh:
> 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.
I'm not following Meek or Engels, who was talking about SCP as a
historical mode of production. When Marx introduces wage labor in
ch. 5, he announces that prior to that stage neither capital nor
wage labor existed in the analysis. So the chapter one on value
does not take class division into consideration. If Fred thinks
otherwise, then I would like to hear his argument.
> Rakesh:
> 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.
But what is the point of flag waving on this list? Most of us have
some understanding of the literature. We need more substance than
just jesture of flag waving. Cheers, ajit sinha
> 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
> >>