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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 05:01:05 EDT

The critical point here is the definition of socially necessary.
If one takes it to be the most productive hours, then the total
hours worked in the economy >  total socially
necessary labour time, since the average labour in any branch will
be less productive than the most productive.

I take the definition of socially necessary to be the amount of
labour of average productivity that would be required to produce
something. If one takes this definition then total concrete= total

The main problem comes from the existence of differential ground rent.
If one defines the socially necessary labour to produce crops to be
the labour on the marginal land, then total concrete labour < total
socially necessary

This is an inherent weakness/ambiguity of the concept of socially
labour time when non-labour constraints on productivity become

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Hunt
Sent: 13 June 2007 01:26
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital

I think it must be a bit more complicated than that. We might equate
the total hours of abstract labour with the total hours of concrete
labour, but when it comes to socially necessary abstract labour,
which is what money expresses, if 8 hours of concrete skilled hours
is four times as productive as 8  unskilled hours of the same kind of
work, then the 8 hours of unskilled work will equal 2 hours of
socially necessary abstract labour if the skilled work equals 8 hours
of socially necessary abstract labour.
A better way of determining the total amount of abstract labour in
hours would be to take each kind of concrete labour-ie, labour
producing a specific use value-and find the total of hours of work
equal to the most productive hours worked (which is one conception of
socially necessary abstract labour) or the total number of hours
equal to the productivity of the work that earns the average return
(another conception of socially necessary abstract labour as the
labour of the market price setting technique of production).

>By adding up the hours of work done, you'd be abstacting from other
>activities, etc., but you would not be abstracting from the activity of
>labor.  You would be counting hours of concrete labor.  Still, I agree
>your proposition because the totality of concrete labor is all there is
>constitute abstract labor.  Total concrete labor necessarily equals
>abstract labor.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
>Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:12 PM
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Complex ... and the French edition of capital
>You could do that, but then you would be ignoring abstraction
>On Tue, Jun 12, 2007 at 12:05:04AM +0100, Paul Cockshott wrote:
>>   Michael P
>>  What I meant was that it is hopeless to think that anyone could
>>  quantify the amount of abstract labor in an economy.
>>  ------------
>>  Paul C
>>  Why not just add up the number of people who work then multiply by
>>  the fraction of the year that they each work?
>On the contrary I would be using abstraction, since I would by
>adding up all the hours of work done, be abstracting from the concrete
>form in which the work was done, and counting it only as human labour
>in general --- in the abstract.
>Michael Perelman
>Economics Department
>California State University
>Chico, CA 95929
>Tel. 530-898-5321
>E-Mail michael at

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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