[OPE-L] labour-power as a (quasi-) commodity

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Thu Apr 14 2005 - 07:57:24 EDT

> If nothing can have value that is not a product of labour then the
> commodity  labour-power, in so far as it has value, is the product
> of labour.  Its value is the labour embodied in it like any other
> commodity.  What happens in production? Is the embodied labour
> transferred to the product?  In that case only surplus value is new
> value.  Alternatively, the value of labour-power is destroyed in
> production.  Which of these would you pick?

Hi Phil,

I pick a third possibility, namely:  the commodity labour-power (to the
extent that it is valid to refer to LP as a commodity;  this is a topic that
Michael W has written about) is a *unique* commodity, a (so-to-speak)

It's customary value is partially determined outside of the circuit of
capital --  outside of production.  It's customary value is also partially
determined within the production _and_ circulation processes.

Within production, labor creates value.  That value, though,  could be
thought of as 'potential' or 'ideal' value to the extent that the commodity
product can only represent actual/real value once it has been sold and
thereby value once again assumes the money-form and can be
productively or unproductively consumed.

It's not that the value of LP is 'destroyed' in production.  Rather,  the
characteristic of the commodity LP is that it is sold piecemeal: in other
words, labour-time is being leased (that is, the right to command the
labourer during a particular period of time is exchanged for a wage).
During that time, value is (or potentially can be) produced.  The *time*
of the wage-labourer is being used up (so to speak, destroyed;
extinguished) in  production.   Another way of thinking of this is that the
wage-worker sells control of  part of  her/his life (the life that goes on
during working hours)  in exchange for money: wage-workers are all
prostitutes, aren't we?

To the extent that the above agrees with or differs from Marx's
perspective does not concern me now: I am concerned here with the
ontology of value.

In solidarity, Jerry

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