Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?

Date: Tue Mar 13 2007 - 07:55:33 EDT

It's deja vu all over again.  Riccardo and I thought this problem
was solved yesterday but evidently not. / In solidarity, Jerry

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?
From:    "Riccardo Bellofiore" <>
Date:    Tue, March 13, 2007 6:51 am
To:      "Jerry Levy" <glevy@PRATT.EDU>

There is nothing specifically capitalist in what you say. This is not
Marx. It is Smith.

Our (at least, my) problem is to refer (new) VALUE to ABSTRACT
labour, with NO residue, so that the productivity of value comes out
ONLY from labour.

In my view the argument by Marx is very, very specific. It has to do
with the macro, class and monetary nature of capitalism.

Just a part of it.

In capitalism ONLY we have the buying and selling of labour power of
free individuals (on the labour market, prior to the production

The use value of labour power is living labour, producing (surplus)
value and (surplus) money.

The capitalist(s) buy labour power of worker(s), so they have the
right to exploit = use it. This exploitation amount to the whole
working day.

Use it means putting workers to work, i.e. living labour.

AFTER the employment contract on the labour market.

Living labour may be higher than necessary labour (of course, it is
in fact). This variability of LL relative to NL is a piece of good
luck for the buyer(s).

Unfortunately, the seller(s) are attached to the commodity they sell.
Not true for sellers of corn, for example.

So, AT THE SAME TIME, the labour power and the living labour CANNOT
BUT BE the LP and the LL of the labourer. A piece of bad luck
(potentially) for the buyers. But the good and the bad luck are

When capitalist(s) buy corn, if the technique is given, the quantity
of other inputs and the output are known, determined ex ante.

NOT TRUE for the commodity labour power. Technical conditions do not
define the social working day. When living labour *varies*, the
quantity of other inputs and the output varies. I

And it is typical of capitalism this "variability". The indeterminacy
ex ante, and the uncertainty, linked to class struggle in production
(led by both classes).

Note: in feudal society, as Marx depicts it, the labourer produce an
ex ante determined amount of surplus in kind.See Luxemburg on the
wage, very good on this. In pre-capitalism it is the lot of the
dominant classes which is determined ex ante. In capitalism, it is
the workers'.

Only as long as capitalist(s) are able to gain in this struggle at
the point of production, creating a capitalist organisation and
technology of production, and even hegemony and cooperation
(Burawoy), overcoming potential conflict and counterproductivity by
workers, they are able to get labour in the quantity and quality

Very specific to the social relations of production and the way the
circuit of money capital and class struggle in production goes on in

No reference to any ahistoric notion of "activity" by labour here, if
not as a generic feature which by itself does not explain nothing. If
you want to explain something relative to the valorization process,
we cannot stick to something which is true for any labour process,
and for any society.

But I understand this looks very strange to most. To me is the basic.


ps: I'll try to answer though briefly to other posts asap (mind the final

At 11:00 +0100 13-03-2007, Diego Guerrero wrote:
>Hi, Riccardo,
>You said:
><, btw, has
>NOTHING to do with the ahistoric feature that
>labour is active, and nature or means of
>production etc passive (that's why I cannpot
>agree with the train of thought of Diego, and of
>all those who in my view are regressing to
>Smith). It has to do with the specific social
>relation of capital.>
>When I say that labour is the only active element in production I just mean
>the following:
>If in social production you take out any other input completely and for
>ever, for example corn, society will experience some difficulties, but
>production will continue. That is, it will keep being an output: matrix A
>will be modified but still A>0.
>However, if you take labour out, production will stop more soon than later.
>Then you will have neither input nor output at all, and A becomes = 0.
>So, without labour, the ACTION in which production consists of ceases
>absolutely. This happens only in the case of labour. This is why I call
>labour the only active element in production.
>You cannot deny this, can you?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 31 2007 - 01:00:12 EDT