From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 05:12:24 EDT
Michael ------- Marx says that commodities are commensurate in the market, but there is no way to get behind the market to get a handle on the abstract labor measures. How many hours of abstract labor does a surgeon represent. Can 20 or 50 unskilled labor perform the same procedure? -------------- Paul C I think Hilferdings approach does give a handle on this. Suppose the National Health Service wants to increase the output of knee operations, and suppose ( unlike what happened a couple of years ago ) that it can not rely upon bringing in Surgeons from other countries to do it. The knee operations require the input of surgical staff - not just the surgeon but a whole team of personnel. The operations also involve materials - gas, dressings, sterile instruments. To maintain all of this requires the expenditure of past labour and present labour. The present labour is simply the time of the team, the past labour involves the time to prepare the materials, plus the time taken - over and above normal education - that the team have to spend aquiring the skills. Thus manpower planning is required if the number of operations is to be increased - new medical school buildings have to be opened up, additional training staff hired etc. Currently all of this is costed in £ but this is just a historically specific feature - because this directly social need is being met by the NHS within the context of a capitalist economy. In a fully socialised economy one could calculate it all in labour time not money - the labour time spent training, the labour time required to build the medical schools etc. What one has to do is look at the total direct and indirect social time that has to be allocated to ensure that the operations can take place. The idea that it is some special property of the labour of surgeons that creates additional value is fetishism - a projection of this larger social division of labour onto the activity of one individual.
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