[OPE-L:7246] [OPE-L:771] Re: Re: Re: abstract labour

Ajit Sinha (sinha@cdedse.ernet.in)
26 Mar 99 14:16:44 IST (+0530)

> Since everything here turns on the most exact phrasing, I should
> not say
> the following off the top of my head, but here goes something of
> what I
> learned from that Blake textbook (which in my opinion is the only
> one that
> pays sufficient attention to the conceptual foundations of Marx's
> theory):
> Labor by its very nature does not produce value; only abstract
> labor does.
> The latter is not reducible to quanta of energy either. Abstract
> labor
> produces value only due to the social reason of determinate class
> contradictions, viz. production for private profit, such that the
> the value
> of a commodity or the social labor that it represents can only be
> represented by way of or in the use value of another commodity.
> There would
> be no value if production were directly social; the value form of
> the
> commodity is thus the stamp of a historically specific mode of
> production--Marx makes clear that the classical economists had no
> sense of
> this. The concrete labor that produces the latter commodity (the
> one in
> the use value of which the value of other commodities is
> expressed) is thus
> also immediately the incarnation of universal human labor. Marx
> analyzes
> other peculiarities of the value form. The analysis of these
> peculiarities
> or absurdities (as Robert Paul Wolff has put it) is doubtless
> intended to
> produce some kind of alienation effect from the way we go about
> organizing
> our social labor.
> Marx also had no intention of proving the labor theory of value
> by
> deduction. Only if the laws of motion he theorized on the basis
> of his
> theory of value developed out of his analysis of the commodity
> are
> empirically confirmed would Marx proven the labor theory of
> value.
> Yours, Rakesh
Rakesh, Blake has said absolutely nothing here. He seems to be
asserting statement after statement in the name of Marx. However,
it is not even clear what he means by either *value* or *abstract
labor*. What sense do you make out of such passages?
cheers, ajit sinha
> >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. If anyone is to
> >be credited with developing the idea of abstract labour it
> should
> >be Black and Watt.
> >
> >Paul Cockshott