Re: [OPE-L] equality versus equivalence

From: cmgermer@UFPR.BR
Date: Fri Jul 13 2007 - 23:02:57 EDT

Dear Paul, Fred, Andy and Ajit,
It seems to me that in Marx’s theory the scalar must be labor and that the
equivalence between two commodities in exchange (x com A = y com B) means
precisely equality of labor times. This seems to me to be clear in Marx’s
presentation: the substance of value is abstract labor; the quantity of
value is the quantity of social labor (SNLT). Hence, when Marx says that
what is meant by = is equivalent values, he is saying that what is meant
is *equal* labor times (SNLTs).

Please observe the following passagens in ch. 1 of Capital:
“But since x blacking, y silk, or z gold &c., each represents the
exchange-value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c.,
must, as exchange-values, be replaceable by each other, or *equal* to each
other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange-values of a given commodity
*express something equal*;”

“...1 quarter corn = x cwt. iron. What does this equation tell us? It
tells us that in two different things — in 1 quarter of corn and x cwt. of
iron, there exists in *equal quantities* something common to both. The two
things must therefore be *equal* to a third …”

Now, why must labor and nothing else be the scalar? Because the human
being depends on his/her labor to subsist, but not on the individual labor
providing the needs of each individual, but on social labor, i.e.,
division of labor, in such a way that each individual provides society
with the product of  his/her labor, and receives in exchange what he/she
needs. What Marx argues is that, in order for society to subsist, this
exchange must be based on the exchange of equal amounts of labor: the
use-value which each individual offers to the society mus be the product
of the same amount of labor contained in the use-values he/she receives
from the society in exchange.

Please observe the following two passagens by Marx:
‘(...) if society wants to satisfy some want and have an article produced
for this purpose, it must pay for it. Indeed, since commodity-production
necessitates a division of labor, society pays for this article by
devoting a portion of the available labor-time to its production.
Therefore, society buys it with a definite quantity of its disposable
labor-time. That part of society which through the division of labor
happens to employ its labor in producing this particular article, must
receive an equivalent in social labor incorporated in articles which
satisfy its own wants’ (Marx, Capital, vol. 3, Int. Publ., p. 187).

‘Now since (…) [the laborer’s – CMG] work forms part of a system, based on
the social division of labor, he does not directly produce the actual
necessaries which he himself consumes; he produces instead a particular
commodity, yarn for example, whose value is *equal* to the value of those
necessaries or of the money with which they can be bought. (…) If the
value of those necessaries represent on an average the expenditure of six
hours' labor, the workman must on an average work for six hours to produce
that value’ (Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p.104).

Finally, robots are just machines. A society where robots produced
everything could not be a capitalist society, because the robot-machines
would be the private property of a few individuals, thus how would the
mass of the non-owner people live, since there would  be no employment for
Claus Germer.

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