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Rakesh, Let me put it bluntly. I don't think you have much of an understanding
of the problem related to value theory in general and Marx's value theory in
particular. It is understandable because this is not your area of expertise or
research. So dancing around the issue may be a good pass time for you. But some
of us have spent a bit of time with this problem, and do have a sense of the
nitty-gritty. You seem to be too smitten by the heavy sounding philosophy of
some Hegelian Marxists, who themselves have very little understanding of the
value problem. If your research requires a good understanding of the value
problematic of political economy in general and Marx in particular, I'll be
happy to help you out with the basics. But I'm not interested in your eternal
dancing around this issue. Cheers, ajit sinha
p.s. I don't understand the logic of deleting my questions and comments while
responding to them. However, since you have asked me some specific questions
I'll give you some specific answers, so that you know how to give specific
answers to specific questions.
And 2. What's your answer to question of what abstract labor is? That it's
As far as Marx is concerned, he gives specific answers to your/mine specific
What is the unit of measure of value?
"How then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured? By means of the
quantity of the 'value-forming substance', the labour, contained in the
article. This quantity is measured by its duration, and the labour-time is
itself measured on the particular scale of hours, days etc." (p.129)
What is socially necessary labor?
"Socially necessary labour-time is the labour-time required to produce any
use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and
with the average degree of skill and intensity of labour prevalent in that
society" (p. 129)
What is abstract labor?
"If we leave aside the determinate quality of productive activity, and
therefore the useful character of the labour, what remains is its quality of
being an expenditure of human labour-power. Tailoring and weaving, although
they are qualitatively different productive activities, are both a productive
expenditure of human brains, muscles, nerves, hands, etc., and in this sense
both human labour." (p.134)
So, as far as Marx is concerned, he does not dance around these concepts. He is
pretty clear that his value is a quantitative concept and its unit of measure
is labour-time. The labor-time that needs to be measured is working of the
prevalent technology with average skill and intensity. Abstract labor is
nothing but expenditure of human energy in such given circumstances. ajit
That Marx's attempt to differentiate it from concrete labor
has no real meaning esp vis a vis quantitative questions? Two simple
questions to which you should be able to give simple answers! Feel free to
refer me to any of your systematic works...
Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
> Re 3176
> Ajit, the value of a commodity, the socially necessary labor time required
> to reproduce it (socially necessary has historically specific
> determinations), cannot be found out directly.
> This is the consequence of class relations, i.e., private production by
> means of wage labor. There is no conscious allocation of social labor time.
> It turns out that in these relations commodity value can only be measured
> by "passing over" into its opposite--a physical quantity of the use value
> (let's say boxes of chocolate) that serves as the universal equivalent.
> We only know whether a commodity has value if the chocolates we get in
> return are tasty, and we only how know much value in terms of how many
> boxes of chocalate we get in return. Marx is revealing the absurdity of the
> way we measure commodity value which, fantastically enough, is not only
> necessarily a mismeasurement of value but also the same thing as the way we
> allocate social labor time. Though done this way, Things are in the
> saddle/And ride mankind, as Emerson once put it.
> We'll need to explore the peculiarities to the value form if we are to
> understand how commodity value is measured....
> No one is denying that we are dealing form the outset with commodity
> exchange, not barter. Obviously we are dealing with commodities produced
> for money exchange when we confront the 20yds of linen=one coat. It's clear
> given that we are dealing with commodities that Marx means they can be
> rendered equivalent in terms of the same money denominator. This is
> explicitly clarified soon enough.
> What is abstract labor? Good question. 1. What do you think Marx's answer
> was in the PART I sections he devoted to developing the concept? Why did he
> seek to clarify that only abstract labor produced the value 'congealed' in
> Of course we know that concrete labor and its specific product--eg a
> coat--may not change one bit in quality while the pure the value of the
> coat or the coat as itself a value which is (and can only be) expressed in
> the exchange relationship is either reduced or increased in strictly
> quantitative terms.
> Yet this is puzzling if we take value to be a property of things; Marx is
> not here merely concerned with the allocation of social labor but the
> necromancy or metaphysically ill formed nature of commodities.
> And 2. What's your answer to question of what abstract labor is? That it's
> mumbo jumbo? That Marx's attempt to differentiate it from concrete labor
> has no real meaning esp vis a vis quantitative questions? Two simple
> questions to which you should be able to give simple answers! Feel free to
> refer me to any of your systematic works...
> If you are interested in an attempt to understand Marx's analysis of the
> value form in terms of Hegel's logic of essence, see Patrick Murray's quite
> profound Marx's Theory of Scientific Knowledge and his essay in Fred's
> first ed. book on Marx's method. I clearly had no intention of presenting
> such an interpretation as mumbo jumbo or defending it, so not quite sure
> why you latched on to this in your last reply.
> Yours, Rakesh
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