Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Jun 19 2004 - 23:18:04 EDT

```On Wed, 16 Jun 2004, ajit sinha wrote:

> --- Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:
> > On Mon, 14 Jun 2004, ajit sinha wrote:
> >
> > > --- Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > What I mean by "L is taken as given" is this:
> > it is
> > > > assumed that the
> > > > capitalist labor process results in L hours of
> > > > socially necessary labor
> > > > time, in units of simple unskilled labor.  We
> > don't
> > > > know what this
> > > > quantity is, but it is assumed that it exists,
> > and
> > > > that it determines the
> > > > quantity of money new-value produced during this
> > > > period (along with the
> > > > MELT), according to the equation:
> > > >
> > > >         N   =   (MELT)  L
> > > ______________________
> > > I don't know what N stands for, but whatever it
> > is, I
> > > presume it is a determined variable.
> >
> >
> > N stands for money new-value produced in a given
> > period, as explained in
> > previous posts.  In Marx's numerical example for his
> > theory of
> > surplus-value (in Chapter 7 of Vol. 1), a 6 hour day
> > produces money
> > new-value of 3 shillings, according to the equation:
> >
> >         N   =  (MELT) L
> >
> >         3s  =  (0.5s/h) (6h)
> _____________________
> Now, both 6 hour day and 3 shillings are observable
> categories.

No, as I have explained before, socially necessary labor-time is not
observable, not only because of unequal skills and unequal intensitities
of labor and unequal conditions of production, but also because socially
necessary labor-time also assumes supply = demand.

> First, this statement says that every 6
> hours day produces 3 shillings worth of 'money
> new-value'. Thus it is claiming that 6 hours of a
> carpenter's labor and 6 hours of a mason's labor both
> produce the same amount of 'money new-value'. Thus the
> abstraction that the 6 hours of carpenter's or mason's
> or others labors produce the same 'money new-value' is
> made by the theorist and it does not happen through
> market or the through the medium of money etc. So, I
> guess, my point about the abstract labor is settled by

It is not clear to me.

> Second, though both the hours of
> labor and shillings are observable, the relationship
> between them, i.e., 6hours of labor produces 3
> shillings of 'money new-value' is the assumption of
> the author. So the value of MELT is nothing but simply
> an assumption too. So your N is nothing but a product
> of two assumed (i.e., arbitrary)numbers and therefore,
> it is nothing but simply an arbitrary number.
> Remember, a theory is more than assumptions.

The quantities of SNLT and the MELT are unknown, but this does not mean
that they are "arbitrary".  It is assumed that the real quantities of SNLT
and the MELT exist, even though we don't know what they are, and that
these two variables jointly determined the money new-value produced
according to:

N   =   (MELT) (SNLT)

According to Marx's theory, this equation explains how the real actual N
in the economy is determined, even though we don't know the actual
quantities of MELT and SNLT.  Also, as discussed in previous posts, this
theory is used to derive the following important conclusions:
total surplus-value it proportional to total surplus labor, inherent
conflicts over the length of the working day and over the intensity of
labor, inherent technological change, trends in the rate of surplus-value,
the composition of capital, and the rate of profit, etc.

So I would say that Marx's theory is much more than assumptions.  It has
impressive explanatory power in terms of the conclusions derived from its
basic assumptions.

Ajit, how does your theory explain how the total new-value is
determined?  Does your theory of new-value also explain these other
important phenomena that Marx's theory explains?

> > And a 12 hour day produces money new-value equal to
> > 6 shillings, according
> > to:
> >
> >         6s  =  (0.5s/h) (12h)
> >
> > Yes, N is a "determined variable", determined by the
> > product of L and
> > MELT.
> >
> >
> > > It is, according
> > > to your equation, determined by the product of
> > (MELT)
> > > and L. By your own admission, you don't know how
> > much
> > > the L is. And up till now you have not told us how
> > is
> > > the MELT determined. So at present, the above
> > equation
> > > translates as "nonsense" in plain English.
> >
> >
> > In Marx's theory in Capital, the MELT is determined
> > by the value of gold,
> > i.e. is equal to the inverse of the labor-time
> > required to produce a unit
> > of gold (i.e. MELT = 1 / Lg = 1 / (2 hrs. per
> > shilling) = 0.5 shilling per
> > hour).
> __________________________
>
> But how do you get "the inverse of the labor-time
> required to produce a unit of gold"? In the production
> of gold constant capital is a factor, which is not
> gold. So you need to measure the constant capital
> factor in arriving at your measure of "labor time
> required to produce a unit of gold". My question to
> you all for a long time have been: how do you do that?
> Cheers, ajit sinha

The labor-time required to produce a unit of gold includes the labor-time
required to produce the means of production used in gold production,
which is taken as given.