Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value and abstract labor

From: Costas Lapavitsas (Cl5@SOAS.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Jun 16 2004 - 15:17:00 EDT

I cannot respond to Howard's message for a couple of days. But before replying, I would like some clarification. I have isolated two paragraphs, which seem to me important:

"Labor abstract in the sense that it is indifferent to the utility of the
product which it produces, commodity producing labor, equal and homogeneous
labor, is not at all necessarily indifferent to the form of labor -- Marx
gives the example of guilds and crafts which remained immersed in the
particularity of labor.  Indifference to the utility of the product, the
thing that causes(!) recourse to exchange, does not at all imply or
presuppose indifference to the particularity of labor.  The conditions for
capitalist production do.  Labor as pure subjectivity, as the use value of
capital, labor indifferent to form, presupposes production for exchange
value, not for use."


"So, yes, slaves embodied abstract labor in the same way money or other
commodities did -- by the social substance formed of the union of labor
indifferent to form and the social form of the commodity."

I read the first as saying that only labour undertaken under capitalist conditions (wage labour?) is indifferent to form.
I read the second as saying that slaves embodied abstract labour as social substance formed by the union of labour indifferent to form and the social form of the commodity.

Is there something wrong with my reading, or are you suggesting that there was (is?) some sort of capitalist labour going into making someone a slave?


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