Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Mon Jun 07 2004 - 09:38:08 EDT

--- Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:
Ajit:  (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?
Fred: This will take a longer answer. I realize now
that your earlier question about how abstract labor is
measured is different from what I originally thought.
My answer to you in my last message about the
measurement of abstract labor had to do with the high
level of abstraction of Part 1 of Volume 1 (the
"simple circulation of commodities"). Since most of
the recent OPEL discussion about Marx's theory of
money initiated by Rakesh was in terms of this high
level of abstraction, that was also the implicit
assumption of my answer. However, I argue that Marx's
theory of price becomes more complicated once we reach
capitalist production and the circulation of capital
in Parts 2 and 3 of Volume 1 (and beyond). In Part 1
("simple circulation of commodities"), commodities are
assumed to be present, with given quantities of
socially necessary labor-time contained in them. Money
is derived as the necessary form of appearance of
socially necessary labor-time, and prices are
determined as proportional to socially necessary
labor-times (with the inverse of the value of money as
the factor of proportionality, as in my original
message): (1) Pi = Li / Lg
Ajit: But both your Li and Lg are known at this stage?
Fred: "Simple circulation" is analyzed according to
the symbolic formula: C - M - C in which the
commodities assumed present are first sold for money
and this money is then used to purchase other
commodities. Then, beginning in Part 2, the level of
abstraction changes to the circulation of CAPITAL,
expressed symbolically to begin with in Chapter 4 in
the abbreviated version of the "general formula for
capital": M - C - M' where M' = M + dM In the
circulation of capital, the starting point is not
already produced commodities (C), but rather a
quantity of money (M) advanced as capital. This
initial quantity of money-capital (M) provides the
initial givens in Marx's theory of price and
surplus-value in Part 3 (and beyond). This initial
money-capital (M) is divided into two components:
constant capital advanced to purchase means of
production (mp) and variable capital advanced to
purchase labor-power (lp). Marx emphasized in Chapters
7 and 8 of Volume 1 that these two components of the
initial money capital play entirely different roles in
the determination of the price of the output and the
resulting surplus-value. The money constant capital is
transferred to the price of the output, and becomes
the first component of the price of the output, and
thus cannot be a source of surplus-value. This given
money constant capital advanced is added together with
the money new-value produced by current labor in order
to determined the aggregate price of commodities
Ajit: But how do you know how much is this " money
new-value" produced by the labor?
Fred: (I have argued on many occasions that Volume 1
is about the capitalist economy as a whole).
Therefore, in capitalist production, which is preceded
by the advance of money capital, the determination of
prices is different from the determination of prices
in "simple circulation". Instead of equation (1), we
have: (2) P = C + N = C + m L In this equation, the C
is taken as given, as the initial money-capital
advanced to purchase mp. This given money constant
capital is transferred to the price of the output, and
becomes the first component of the price of the
output. The L is also taken as given, as the total
quantity of current socially necessary labor-time in
the economy as a whole. This total quantity of labor
is made homogeneous and added together by the given
skill and intensity multipliers, as discussed in
previous messages.
Ajit: I don't know about those previous messages, so
please tell me how is this total quantity of labor is
made homogeneous. Secondly, is "homogeneous" labor the
same as "abstract" labor for you? This is a crucial
point so please specify this one clearly.
 The proportionality factor m is also taken as given,
and is the inverse of the value of money ( m = 1 / Lg
Ajit: What is proportionality factor? And how can it
be taken as given? In your equation, m is not known
since Lg is unknown.
Fred: or the amount of money new-value produced per
hour of abstract labor (which Foley and others have
called the MELT - the monetary expression of
Ajit: But you haven't told us yet how is abstract
labor measured. So your above sentence has no meaning.
Fred: These given magnitudes co-determine the
aggregate price of commodities according to equation
Ajit: but in your equation 2 both your m and L are
unknown. By saying that they are given, all you are
saying is that your theory is given by some entity
like God, but you can't tell what it is. If you look
at your equation 2, all you are saying is that my
price is determined by adding up two elements: one is
C, which is given and observable, and the second is a
product of two elements, which you don't know what
they are but you think they are given. What kind of
theory or determination of anything it is?
Fred: The first component of the price of commodities
(the C) is taken as given because it has already been
advanced at the beginning of the circulation of
capital and thus existed prior to production. Other
authors who have also argued that the initial
money-capital is taken as given in Marx's theory of
prices include Yaffe, Carchedi, Mattick Jr, and Mage.
The second component of the price of commodities, the
new-value component (N = mL) did not exist prior to
production, but is instead created by the labor of the
current period. N = mL is the basic assumption of
Marx's labor theory of value, as an aggregate theory
of price and surplus-value.
The "new interpretation" has also emphasized this
assumption as the fundamental assumption in Marx's
labor theory of value. In the past, I have calculated
the labor-time represented by the given money constant
capital, as the ratio of this given money constant
capital to m (or the MELT): i.e. Lc = C / m
Ajit: But Fred, how did you get your m in the first
place? Let me put it other way, what is the value of m
in the US today? Tell us how would you arrive at that
value empirically?
I then added this quantity of labor represented by the
given money constant capital to the total current
living labor (L), in order to obtain the total labor
contained in the total commodity product: TL = Lc + L.
Ajit, I think this derivation of Lc from C is what
your second question is about, right (or at least part
of it)?
Ajit: Lc is a problem as I have posed above. But here
I have even more serious problem. How do you know your
L? Cheers, ajit sinha

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