[OPE-L:7249] [OPE-L:774] Re: Re: Re: Re: abstract labour

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 08:49:54 -0500 (EST)

Ajit wrote
>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

OK, tough guy, let's see what you have to say.

You argue that Colletti coquetted with Hegelian Marxism just because he
argued that the theory of value is identical to the theory of fetishism.
But this is just a dogmatic adherence to an Althusserian definition of what
Hegelian Marxism is without any concern for the fact that Colletti is a
fierce critic of Hegelian Marxism on different terms.

You make the fantastic claim that Marx initially attributes to the market
the same equilibriating properties that Walras does.

You make the near incomprehensible argument that since the law of value
does not apply in the case of labor power (for reasons quite difficult to
follow) and since the concept of labor power as a commodity is untenable in
theoretical structure of the latter part of *Capital*, then the theoretical
relevance of part one of *Capital* vol 1 collapses.

Let's be clear. Your problem is not with Blake per se but with a
meticiculous concern with Chapter I of Capital, in which (you think) the
almost fully evolved Marx still shows the gill arches of his humanist

Yet it is obvious to most that Chapter I can be read as a critique of
bourgeois individualism, of Robinsonades.

Moreover, in your haste to write off that first part of *Capital* for the
study of surplus and reproduction, you say *nothing* about Marx's discovery
of the duality of labor.

Yet without a conception of the duality of labor it is not possible to
understand why the value of commodities is in inverse proportion to the
productive power of labor and the value of labor power is in inverse
proportion to its own productive powers. That is the value theoretic
analysis of class relations becomes impossible, yet you seem to think that
part one does not lay the conceptual foundation for the analysis of class
relations and surplus production in labor time.

You urge abandonment of part one not only for a turn to the study of the
dynamics of surplus production but also for the study of reproduction
itself. Yet it seems not to have occured to you that the apparently
innocent beginnings of the theory of Marxian value--the distinction between
use value and exchange value; the separation accordingly of concrete labor
that produces use value and abstract that produces value itself, manifested
only in exchange; the realisation of this exchange quality of value by the
use value of another commodity; the consequent lesson that use value can
transfer value, so that constant capital, or use values values are
transferred, whereas new values are added by abstract labor; that concrete
and abstract labors are united in the same process so that the eye does not
distinguish their contributions; that one is physical and the other
social--all this filiation of ideas that so many superficial critics like
yourself say Marxism could do without, comes to fruition exactly in the
study of total reproduction, which show how this system of definitions is
confirmed by the final test, the motion of capitalism as a whole; its
reproduction on a historically enlarging basis. And this motion was what
the theory of value was originated to explore. Without the the two
characters of labor, the theory of reproduction becomes impossible and the
theory of a surplus merely static, as it is with your hero Sraffa.

Yours, Rakesh