Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Ian Wright (iwright@GMAIL.COM)
Date: Thu Jun 17 2004 - 15:58:07 EDT

Hi Phil

Thanks for the reply.

> My leg is a human leg because it is the leg of a human.  My labour is
> human labour because it is the labour of a human.  Not all legs are
> human.  Cattle have legs. According to Adam Smith cattle labour. So
> do sheepdogs with their causal powers to round up sheep.  Not all
> labour is human.

Yes indeed, not all labour is human labour. But humans, as members of
the same species, have the same labouring powers, and these powers are
different from the labouring powers of sheepdogs. This is of course

Sraffa, for example, thought that there was no objective difference
between the labour of a wage-labourer and that of a slave or a horse
or a machine: "It is a purely mystical conception that attributes to
labour a special gift of determining value".

A good point, requiring a good answer.

I am sure the answer is not to be found in any special properties of
the labouring-powers of people, i.e. at the level of the individual.
My discussion of abstract labour is not intended to directly address
Sraffa's charge of mysticism -- it is not playing that role. Instead I
make the observation that human labour-power is objectively different
to machine labour-power or horse labour-power, and I think this is a
necessary condition for why human labour, not machine or horse labour,
is the substance of value. But it is not a sufficient condition.

Steve Keen thinks that machines create value.

When I get the chance I'll try to respond to your numerical example.
However, I am still intrigued why there is supposed to be an "adding
up" problem. I still don't see one. Also, are these issues connected
to your ope-l-0310 on "dynamic value and natural price"? I remain
interested in hearing and understanding all critcisms of Marx and
Rubin's theory of value.


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