Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital

From: ehrbar (ehrbar@LISTS.ECON.UTAH.EDU)
Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 09:48:36 EDT

Howard, the society I am speculating about will not have the social
relation "value", but it is still possible to talk about abstract
labor.  Abstract labor is an aspect of every labor process in every

Since you know Critical Realism, let me put it this way.  Value is
real, i.e., it has causal powers.  Now according to Bhaskar, RTS,
causal powers are the ways of acting of things.  Marx's emphasis on
the quality of value is simply his awareness that he has to find the
``thing'' which underlies the causal power of value.  This thing, I
claim, it the expenditure of human labor-power.  It is not strictly a
physical presence in the commodity, since the labor was performed in
the past.  Only its effects are physically present in the commodity,
but the labor is no longer there.  I think Rakesh's characterization
of value as the *carcass* of abstract labor is apt here.  But the
person who has performed this labor must watch over it that he or she
gets rewarded for it, and will only give the commodity away if he or
she gets paid for it.  In this way, society remembers the labor which
was performed to produce the good, and this is how abstract labor has
causal effects even after its death.

Those who say that there is no abstract labor outside commodity producing
societies are right in one sense: only in commodity producting society,
all abstract labors are set in relation to each other and are compared
with each other.  The concept of socially necessary labor-time is therefore
specific to commodity societies.  But if you think of abstract labor simply
as the expenditure of human muscles, mind, etc., it is a "physiological
truth" that every labor process everywhere is the expenditure of abstract


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