Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 11:36:14 EDT

At 12:14 PM +0000 6/6/04, Costas Lapavitsas wrote:
>Nor is there any great mystery regarding the recent origins of the
>view that abstract labour is bound up with capitalist production
>relations. It is, for instance, one of the strongest results of
>British political economy from the 1970s onward, partly inspired by
>the need to oppose Sraffianism and its ahistorical understanding of
>labour time. There have been several important contributors to these
>debates, often associated with the Conference of Socialist
>Economists - Pilling, Fine, Kay, Mohun, Weeks and many others whose
>names escape me right now.

Perhaps what's bound up in capitalist production relations is not
abstract labor per se but the appropriation of unpaid abstract labor
time through the sale for money of commodities produced by means of
wage labor (meaning not specifically the free wage form but that
subsistence is not self produced or paid out of revenue but 'saved
out' of capital--this is how Marx defines wage labor in the chapter
on Richard Jones, though he also says here that capitalism as a mode
of production, as a totality depends on the civil rights of the
working class). Abstract labor itself need not be specific to
capitalism for it may always be merely one aspect of social labor
activity (which would be to drop my earlier understanding). Moreover,
the tendency to exchange at value may indeed be quite weak (though
not non existent even in Smith's primitive deer-beaver exchange)
without generalized commodity production on both the input and output
side by means of free wage labor (which fully developed capitalism
ironically strengthens the tendency for exchange at value only by
impelling exchange to be at transformed values such that the law of
value only achieves regulative power in indirect form--at least that
is what Marx claimed). I think we can have historical specificity
without insisting on the historical specificity of abstract labor
itself, no? Perhaps not. Labor and abstract labor may have been
unthinkable for the ancients, but that does not mean scientific
understanding of ancient society can proceed without concepts of
labor and abstract labor.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Jun 07 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT