Re: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Jun 08 2006 - 08:27:52 EDT

>  I dont see that any of this is very complicated.
> What one is trying to do is work out how much of society's total time
> must be expended to produce a product.
> If one wants to work out how much time goes into
> the production of bread for example, one has
> to ignore the labour content of  the bread eaten by the bakers themselves
> or one would end up with the value of the net product of society
> that is greater than the total number of hours worked. Worse
> than that, your accounting system would make it appear
> that the value of the social product grew uncontrollably even
> if the labour force was fixed. Each year you would be attributing
> to the consumer goods, the value of the consumer goods eaten
> the previous year giving rise to an unlimited inflation in your
> system of valuation.

Hi Paul C:

These are good points, but a couple of other points need to be noted:

1) (my original point, I believe) labor time (whether voluntary or paid)
has to be allocated for the production and reproduction of labour-power
for it to take a form where it can possess value.  I.e. labour is
required to _maintain_ and _reproduce_ workers since without that
labour then labour-power itself can not take the commodity form.
This can be seen easily in a 'limit case' where workers were not fed
since they would starve and therefore LP would not exist and could
consequently not have value.  This tells us that certain social
relations, in part existing _outside of capitalist production_, are
_socially necessary_ for the reproduction of the VLP.

2) The VLP represents the subsistence requirements of workers as
_socially and culturally understood_.  While one can at a very high level
of abstraction assume that this level is fixed, it must be grasped that
workers' themselves through their own self-activity have the capacity
to fight for and change the socially necessary component and
therefore over time the VLP.  The opposite holds true as well:
capitalists can wage an offensive against workers which if successful
raises the possibility not only that short-term wages will decrease but
the possibility that the VLP itself can decrease.

In solidarity, Jerry

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