Re: [OPE-L] Complex and simple labour: English trans. of French Capital I?

From: Anders Ekeland (anders.ekeland@ONLINE.NO)
Date: Thu Jun 07 2007 - 17:59:43 EDT

Dear Rakesh,
 >I would like to read a copy.
I'll send it to the list when it is readable.

It's difficult to see what the problem
>is once one remembers that for Marx commodities exchange in terms not
>of the actual hours expended on their production but the socially
>necessary time required for their reproduction. Marx carefully
>undermined the individualist foundations of the classical labor
>theory of value.

I do not think the "labour reduction problem" is 
directly connected to the "socially necessary 
time" either production or reproduction. The 
question Marx answers is if some types of labour 
creates more value per hour than others - given 
that the intensity is average, that the work done 
is socially accepted etc. etc.

>If society did not count products of complex
>labor--say a report on a X ray or architectural blueprints--as some
>multiple of simple labor, then the socially necessary supply of X ray
>reports and blueprints would not be forthcoming.

It is not clear to me that this example is really to the point.

When Marx thinks that a brick-layer is simple 
labour and a damask-weaver is complex labour, 
that the spinner does simple labour and the 
jeweler complex labour - the latter creating 
2-3-6 times more value per hour - it means that 
the "reduction coefficients" become important. 
The relation between labour creating ability and 
wages is also a very important question. Are the 
observed wage differences a reflection of 
differences in value creating ability, i.e. that 
the rate of exploitation is uniform. Do top 
managers deserve their wage? Do jewelers compared to weavers?

Marx was very critical of existing income 
differences - and it is not clear what Marx 
regarded as the just differences and what he 
regarded as "blosse Illutionen" (pure prejudices) 
- he gave no real criteria for drawing that line.

>However, to the
>extent that the acquisition of such skills becomes rationalized and
>democratized, the multiple declines over time. Which is what
>Hilferding emphasized. Custom, monopoly, and intellectualist
>prejudice cannot prevent such a leveling. The law of value regulates
>exchange over time.

Hilferding's solution - his answer to Böhm-Bawerk 
merits a detailed analysis, but for Marx 
democratization and rationalization is not a 
primary issue. To Marx there are more "delicate" 
professions and less "delicate" ones - and that 
is independent of technological and democratic changes.

>But I look forward to hearing about Anders' analysis as well as
>Makoto's. And then there are the older responses of Rowthorn,
>Carchedi and Hilferding.

Neither Carchedi - who has a lot of interesting 
general, methodological comments - but no 
solution. Hilferding has also a lot of insights, 
but as Rosdolsky points out - does not really hold water theoretically.

As I said before - I think the only solution is 
to make this a non-problem - abstract labour 
abstracts from all specificities of labour - and 
measure labour only in time - and then you cannot 
reintroduce the complex/simple dimension.


>Yours, Rakesh
>>My own solution became different from Marx or 
>>his followers, as you may be awa
>>re of it in my paper 'Skilled Labour in Value 
>>Theory' (in Capital and Class, 3
>>1, Spring, 1987, and chap.6 of my book, The 
>>Basic Theory of Capitalism, Macmil
>>lan, 1988.). I shall be happy if I can hear your comments on it too.
>>All the best,
>>Makoto Itoh
>>----- Original Message -----
>>>Date:         Wed, 30 May 2007 20:15:56 +0200
>>>From: Anders Ekeland <anders.ekeland@ONLINE.NO>
>>>Subject: [OPE-L] Complex and simple labour: English trans. of French Capital
>>>Dear all,
>>>I am working on the problem of the reduction of complex to
>>>simple/abstract labour. In the French edition of Capital Marx has a
>>>somewhat different "solution" to the comlex/simple labour problem.
>>>This is discussed by  French (and Russians, using the French edition)
>>>Marxists, but generally overlooked in the English and German debate.
>>>Is there an English translation of the French Capital?
>>>Are anyone aware of authors discussing the different "solutions" in
>>>the German and French editions?
>>>Anders Ekeland

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