[OPE-L:7323] [OPE-L:852] Re: Re: abstract labour

Ajit Sinha (SINHA@cdedse.ernet.in)
08 Apr 99 16:10:27 IST (+0530)

> Back to Ajit:
> >Rakesh continues...
> >So first you say that concrete labor and abstract labor and use
> >value and unit value "contradiction"
> >underpins Marx's falling rate of profit thesis. You don't think
> >that you need to make any argument to show this underpinning?
> Of course an argument needs to be made! It just does not have to
> be made by
> me. Look at the example "Technical Progress: Use Value and
> Value" in
> Foley, pp. 54. Tell me what you think. I am not asking you to
> assume
> anything without an argument. Since you are the expert, I would
> appreciate
> your commentary on the interpretation by Foley of this crucial
> segement of
> Marx's part one analysis. I am certainly not going to be able to
> provide
> you with a better example.
It has been a long time since I read that book. And am not sure if
it is in our library here, probably it is. In anycase, when i get
some free time I'll read it again.
> How does the "contradiction"
> >between use value and unit value underpin the theory of
> >exploitation?
> That's too obvious: exchange value of the commodity labor power
> is
> determined by the price or value (there is of course great
> controversy
> here) of the commodities that enter into its reproduction; the
> use value
> for Mr Moneybags of that commodity is the abstract labor that
> produces more
> value than the exchange value of the commodity he has purchased.
> Your
> refutation of this well known result hinges on the "the valid
> point that
> Marx does does and could not have treated *surplus-labour* as
> *the use
> value* of labor power [which deals] a death blow to the notion of
> labor
> power as a commodity. If the right to the *surplus labor* belongs
> to the
> worker and not to the capitalist, then the worker has simply not
> *sold* the
> commodity--labor power, and so the question of *consumption* of
> labor pwoer
> by the capitalist, after having bought the commodity, is a
> spurious one."
This is not true. On the consumption side I show that the so-called
consumption of labor-power is itself a function of class struggle.
The quotation up there was only to show my agreement with Normal
Geras' position.
> Perhaps Marx can easily recover from this death blow. The
> capitalist will
> not repurchase the commodity labor power if in its use he is
> unable to
> extract value sufficiently in excess to its exchange value. The
> capitalist
> is as free not to repurchase this commodity as its owner is not
> alienate
> its use value, labor itself, to its purchaser.
The question here is the definition of commodity and the juridical
category of right over its use. Geras' point is that Marx really
does not concede capitalist's right over surplus labor. It is
obvious that in capitalism neither capital nor wage labor can exist
without each other. So what you are saying is not the issue here.
If capitalists could not appropreate surplus labor that capital
will not exist and the question of capital will not buy labor will
not even exist.
> Your real argument seems to be that while Marx claimed that law
> of value,
> interpreted as an equilibrium mechanism, governed labor power,
> the
> existence of widespread unemployment proves that wage labor is
> not so
> governed. But the analysis of labor power that the capitalist
> does purchase
> in terms of the use value/exchange value dichotomy is not
> impaired by the
> existence of unemployment. Since Marx assumes exchange at value
> in order to
> disclose surplus value on that basis, it does not matter for his
> analysis
> at this point whether the existence of widespread unemployment
> tends to
> push labor power below its value, though this condition is of
> real
> practical significance.
Again my main argument is that Marx does not have any theory of
supply adjustment in the case of labor-power, which is contrary to
what a commodity is supposed to be. Classical economists did have a
supply mechanism for labor-power through their Malthusian theory of
population, which Marx had rejected. See my 'Marx and
Malthusianism: A Critique of Hollander' in *History of Economics
Review*, 1998.
> > Why can't an increase in total
> >output with change in technology lead to a fall in the uniform
> rate
> >of profit in Sraffian system? I would love to hear even half an
> >argument about it.
> The well known Sraffian/Okishian result is that "viable"
> technical change
> cannot lead to a fall in the uniform profit rate without an
> increase in the
> real wage. A rather elegant demonstration is Van Parijs' in his
> *Recycling
> Marxism*.
But it's not what you had said before. You said that fall in the
rate of profit with increase in total output would be a fantastic
idea for Sraffians. May be you do not understand the subtleties of
economic theories. Because this kind of statements make you look
unserious. In anycase, falling rate of profit is ot Marx's strong
suit, so why buid a defence on that ground?
> As for your understanding of Marx's critique of the Ricardian
> (and
> implicitly Walrasian) theory of money in part one and the theory
> of
> (partial) gluts associated therewith, I remain content with your
> reply that
> Marx's own argument reads as mumbo jumbo to you. I never claimed
> to give
> you the argument, only to suggest that you had missed the
> argument that
> Marx was making.
And waht was the argument that Marx was making? That there could be
a general glut in his C(1)-M-C(2) circuit? I think I have brought
out the cause of general glut in Marx's theory in a very clear cut
manner. You need to critique that.
> Well, please do read the same mumbo jumbo in Capital III. p. 648,
> first
> full paragraph. Vintage. Remember you underlined that the study
> of crisis
> or universal gluts falls within the third problematic of
> economics. This
> discussion of the monetary forms of crisis from vol III is built
> on the
> critique of Ricardo's money theory from *Capital*, part one.
Without arguments I cannnot go on. It's madning. Our discussion is
about what kind of arguments in Marx works and what does not. So
what kind of arguments you are making by throwing references here.
No argument.

Cheers, ajit sinha
> Yours, Rakesh
> ps why does Ian Steedman in his piece on Marx on Ricardo in the
> Meek
> festschrift not mention Marx's critique of Ricardo's money
> theory? Isn't
> that the heart of the matter?
Ask Ian Steedman.