Re: [OPE-L] Enrique D. Dussel's writings online

From: Philip Dunn (pscumnud@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 16:53:59 EDT

Quoting Ian Wright <iwright@GMAIL.COM>:

> Hi Rakesh
> Once again you raise issues that are very interesting to me. My
> apologies to other listmembers if they are getting tired of hearing me
> rehash my particular obsessions.
> > Ernesto raises the question of why animals cannot create value.
> Didn't Sraffa also say it was mystical to think that horses cannot
> create value but humans can? Steve Keen, whose work I very much like,
> although I do not agree with his conclusions regarding Marx's theory
> of value, also thinks that machines create value.
> > This seems to me a strange question, but I am not an economist.
> It is a question that many people immediately raise on encountering a
> labour theory of value. I think it is a good question, all the more so
> because it is the obvious and natural one. I have also yet to
> encounter a fully satisfying answer to it.

Hi Ian

Good questions.

I do not worry too much about animals and machines producing value.  It is
social relations that count.  But I have no objections to non-human
labour-power.  Consider a Ricardian agricultural production function:

             X = N to the power a, where 0 < a < 1

where X is the quantity of corn produced and N is the labour time required. 
There are diminishing returns.

Differentiating the log gives:

             dX/dN = a X/N

Define labour-content of X as the labour required at the margin to produce X:

             L = X dN/dX

This labour-content exceeds the labour-power employed:

             L - N = N( 1/a - 1 ) > 0

Where has the extra labour-content come from?

My interpretation is that access to infra-marginal land is labour-power, and
that differential rent is the wages of this labour-power.

This rent is not part of surplus value.

Philip Dunn

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