[OPE-L:7346] [OPE-L:875] Re: Re: abstract labour

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 09:04:24 -0400 (EDT)

Paul C wrote in [OPE-L:874]:

> > <snip, JL>: only if labor can 'freely' move to any branch of
> > commodity production can all needs be met through commodity
> > exchange.
> This is either overstated or plain wrong.
> There are constraints on the mobility of labour in the capitalist
> world as well, the existence of nation states with frontiers inhibits
> the movement of labour. There is never complete mobility of labour.

Good point. Yet, the subject of abstract labour is presented at a much
higher level of abstraction than one in which there are multiple
nation-states, foreign trade, and world markets.

> There is no need for labour to be free for it to be mobile, that is
> just a modern prejudice unsupported by history. Labour in chains
> can be readily moved, and indeed for most of history, servitude
> has been a precondition for labour mobility.


Paul remarks to Rakesh:

> I suggest that rather than concentrating your reading on third
> hand sources (comentators on marx indirectly commenting on
> historians) you pay more attention to economic historians
> and writers on slavery.

If we want to look at the historical question of labor performed under
slavery, your advice is sound. However, if we want to develop the subject
of the mobility of labor under capitalism, we will have to consider

-- Wage-Labour (I think Mike L has done some work on this);

-- The State;

-- International Trade;

-- World-Market and Crises.

In solidarity, Jerry