Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 02:34:16 EDT

--- Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:
> > _______________
> > Fred, I'm glad to see you moving firmly in my
> > direction.
> I don't know about that.  See below.
> > So you agree that
> > "the basic unit of measure of abstract labor, as
> the
> > "substance of value", is one hour of simple,
> unskilled
> > labor, of average intensity, and using average
> > conditions of production." This is what I have
> been
> > belaboring for ages. Now, this measure does not
> need
> > money.
> No, this is not what I mean.  The measure of
> abstract labor DOES NEED
> MONEY, because the measure of abstract labor in
> terms of labor-time is

But then you are contradicting what you had said
above. To remind you, you said "the basic unit of
measure of abstract labor, as the "substance of
value", is one hour of simple, unskilled labor, of
average intensity, and using average conditions of
production." Now in any society there is a good
understanding of what kinds of labors are considered
unskilled. So there is no problem in terms of
observation. In any case money cannot help you in
dertermining what labor is unskilled. Second, average
intensity is also an accepted norm of labor intensity
that can be observed or generally considered to be a
part of socially prevalent technology of production
and various labor laws. Again, money in no ways helps
you in determining the average intensity of work.
Thirdly, average conditions of production is also
determined by observing what kind of technology and
labor conditions are dominant in production of given
commodities. Again, money, by no means, will help you
in determining the average conditions of production.
So I have two questions for you:
(1) How does money help you in determining the above
three variables that both you and Marx identify are
variables needed to measure abstract labor and value?

(2)If, as you say below, that "abstract labor" only
shows up in money terms but its measure is in labor
terms, then could you tell me how do you get your
money values first and then how do you go about
translating those money values to labor values?
Cheers, ajit sinha
> Therefore, in order to
> obtain an indirect, observable measure of abstract
> labor, money is
> necessary.  Money is the "necessary form of
> appearance" of abstract labor.
> An observable form of appearance of abstract labor
> is necessary because
> labor in a commodity economy is not regulated
> directly and consciously
> according to a social plan, but is instead regulated
> indirectly and
> unconsciously through market prices.  In any type of
> society, the
> quantities of labor-time necessary to produce
> different goods must of
> necessity play a role in the allocation of social
> labor.  However, since
> there is no direct regulation of social labor in a
> commodity economy, the
> only way the quantities of labor-time necessary to
> produce goods can play
> a role in the regulation of social labor is by being
> indirectly
> represented in terms of observable quantities of
> money, as the
> (average) price of commodities.
> I think that this is one of the strengths of Marx's
> theory - that it
> explains the necessity of money on the basis of its
> fundamental theory of
> value.  NO OTHER ECONOMIC THEORY, including Sraffian
> theory, has been able
> to explain the necessity of money on the basis of
> its theory of value.
> > When it comes to reduction of skilled to unskilled
> > labor, the problem is a problem of higher level of
> > complication. As far as defining value is
> concerned,
> > one can assume a world with only unskilled labor.
> > Secondly, Both Ricardo and Marx (Smith did not
> have a
> > LTV) believed that the reduction could be made by
> > taking the wage differentials as multipliers.
> Whether
> > it is correct or not is a different question and
> what
> > other ways one can use to effect the reduction or
> to
> > what extent this does the LTV in etc. are separate
> > theoretical questions.
> I disagree.  I don't think either Ricardo or Marx
> used wage differentials
> as the skills multipliers.  But I agree that we can
> set this question
> aside for now.
> > We should be able to define
> > value in a world of only unskilled labor. And in
> this
> > case, as you agree now with me, money has no role
> to
> > play. Cheers, ajit sinha
> No, again, this is not what I mean.  I said that
> abstract labor could be
> measured in units of labor-time; I did not say that
> money plays no
> role.  Indeed, as just explained, money plays an
> essential role.  Money is
> the necessary form of appearance of unobservable
> quantities of abstract
> labor.  Money makes invisible abstract labor
> indirectly visible.
> You are reducing Marx's concept of value to one
> dimension - abstract labor
> (as many do, especially Sraffian-inspired
> interpreters of Marx).  But
> Marx's concept of value is richer than that - it
> consists of two
> dimensions - abstract labor AND MONEY.  Abstract
> labor is the
> "substance" of value and money is the "necessary
> form of appearance" of
> value.
> Marx criticized Ricardo for the same mistake.  Marx
> argued that Ricardo
> was solely concerned with the MAGNITUDE of value
> (the quantity of the
> substance of value, abstract labor), and did  not
> understand money as the
> necessary form of appearance of value.  One such
> critique is found in
> TSV.III. 133, 13 pages prior to the passage quoted
> by Rakesh which
> initiated this OPEL discussion of Marx's theory of
> money.
>         "Ricardo's mistake is that he is concerned
> only with the
>         MAGNITUDE OF VALUE...  But the labour
> embodied in them
>         [commodities] must be represented as SOCIAL
> labour...
>         This circumstance - the necessity of
>         labour contained in commodities as UNIFORM
>         LABOUR, i.e. as money - is overlooked by
> Ricardo.
>         (TSV.III. 131; emphasis in the original)
> Comradely,
> Fred

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