[OPE-L:7341] [OPE-L:871] Re: Freudenthal corrected

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 9 Apr 1999 14:43:58 -0400 (EDT)

I am reposting the Freudenthal analysis because I made a serious
transcribing error.

>In "Critique of Economic Reason" in *Science in Context* 10,1(1997) pp.
>Gideon Freudenthal suggests an interpretation of this passage consistent
>with Allin's emphasis on the mobility of labor.
>"But suppose that in Aristotle's society beds are produced by slaves,
>houses by freeman. Since slaves do not produce houses nor freeman beds, the
>necessary ratio of beds to houses does not translate into a corresponding
>ratio of labor time. No saving of masonry will increase bed producing
>labor. Since Marx's concept of abstract labor contains as an essential
>feature the mobility of labor power from one branch of proudction to
>another, it follows that the the entity 'abstract labor' does not exist
>under the conditions named there.
>"Can we apply 'labor' in our analysis of the Greek economy? Suppose we
>wanted to compare the productivity of labor in masonry and in bed
>production in ancient Greece with that in our society. Since we are not
>committed to the Greek categories, we could calculate the 'labor' (measured
>in time units of 'human' labor) necessary for the produciton of one house
>and one bed. Furthermore, we could explain consequent difficulties in
>social reproduction by reference to the disproportion between house
>building labor time and bed building labor time. However if were to
>conclude that in consequence of this disproportion labor power would
>migrate from one branch to the other, then this would be a crude mistake:
>the unit of calculation labor time does not correspond to a socially
>existing entity.
No migration was possible, and the category would
>thus prove inadequate for the social analysis of that ancient economy. The
>conclusion to be drawn from these considerations is that the 'entity' labor
>in the abstract existed in the *physical sense' in ancient Greece although
>it did not exist as a social practice nor asa category of Greek thought.
>Hence in our analysis of Greek economy we can use it for some purposes, but
>not for all. However, the relation between the absence of the category and
>the absence of the social entity and practice of abstract labor has yet to
>be clarified."