From: Claus Magno (cmgermer@UFPR.BR)
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 15:36:32 EDT
Christopher Arthur wrote: > One point for now. Any theory will have some statements that are true by > definition or which are assumed without proof. But there must be a > substantive claim which is to be tested. > I had alawys assumed that the said claim in our case is "The magnitude of > value is determined by socially necessary labour time." For this to be > substantive it is obviously the case that value cannnot be defined as > labour or identified by assumption because then it would reduce to a > tautology. So my question to those who say "Value is Labour" is this: what > IS the substantive claim? > Chris If I correctly interpret the meaning of substantive claim, it seems to me that the statement "The magnitude of value is determined by socially necessary labour time" cannot be the substantive claim for the definition of value. It only refers to one of the determinations of value, which is its quantity. And it seems to be coherent with Marx's concept of the substance of value being abstract labour. Thus, what the statement says is that the quantity of value is determined by the quantity of its substance, i.e. the time of expended labour, but as the average or *social* labour time required to produce each unit of the particular commodity. At first sight you seem to be right in saying that if one accepts that "value is labour", then the statement seems to reduce itself to a tautology. But I think we have to consider what Marx has called the fetishism of commodities, or their 'enigmatical character', which results from the fact that labour is divided among the producers not as a conscious process, but as a process that goes on behind their backs. The equality of their labours appears to them in the form of equality of their values. In this sense, value is the social expression of abstract labour, but unconscious of the fact that it expresses abstract labour. The fact that value is the expression of labour, or that labour is its substance, is a discovery of human thought. In this sense it seems correct to say that the magnitude of value - the social understanding of the equalization of commodities - is determined by socially necessary labour time. comradely, Claus.
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