[OPE-L:7245] [OPE-L:770] Re: Re: abstract labour

Ajit Sinha (sinha@cdedse.ernet.in)
26 Mar 99 14:12:49 IST (+0530)

> At 01:10 PM 22-03-99 IST, you wrote:
> >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.
> >_____________
> I must say that I am in agreement with you here.
> It is always difficult to avoid reading earlier authors with the
> benefit of hindsight, but it appears to me that the classicals
> like Smith and Ricardo appreciated that the labour that created
> value could potentially be allocated to different activities, and
> as such could be viewed in abstraction from any one activity
> in which it was expended.
> Marx's rabbiting on about his great discovery of the difference
> between abstract and concrete labour strikes me as just so much
> German academic conceit. It is just a difference in intelectual
> culture between Glasgow and Berlin Universities.
Different people seem to have different concept of *abstract
labour*, and may seem to have no concept at all--they just use the
term as a magical formula. One thing one should keep in mind that
even Ricardo's labor-values usually takes into account of both
direct and indirect labor. Obviously the direct and indirect labors
are of different concrete charecters--so obviously Ricardo's labor
theory of value is abstracting from the concrete character of labor
since it is adding various concrete labors to arrive at the labor
theory of value.

On the other hand, Karl Kraus, in his highly mathematical and high
quality work on money and abstract labor, argues that the
concept of abstract
labour time makes no sense. The only way abstract labor makes sense
is a reduction of all kinds of concrete labor to one kind of
concrete labor--the similar way of reducing all commodities to one
money commodity.

If anyone is to
> be credited with developing the idea of abstract labour it should
> be Black and Watt.
> Paul Cockshott
Send me the reference. Sounds very interesting. Cheers, ajit sinha