Re: [OPE] labor tokens and efficiency

From: Allin Cottrell <>
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 20:07:26 EDT

On Wed, 6 May 2009, Ian Wright wrote:

> > If labour is recompensed at a full rate of 1 hour per hour
> > rather than at a rate of 30 mins in the hour there is a
> > greater incentive to use labour saving machinery. This is the
> > fundamental reason why payment in labour hours is likely to
> > accelerate the development of the forces of production.
> I don't understand. If labor is more expensive then labor-saving
> machinery is also more expensive.
> So, all other things being equal, there would be no relative
> change in the cost of labor compared to the cost of machinery,
> if labor were recompensed at its full rate.
> Am I missing something?

Yes. At present in capitalist economies direct labour is not
"fully costed" owing to exploitation (the wage is "less than the
value created by labour", as one says). But indirect labour (as
embodied in labour-saving mchinery) _is_ fully costed to the
extent that the labour theory of value holds. See Marx's
discussion in Capital I, ch 15, ( )

"The use of machinery for the exclusive purpose of cheapening the
product, is limited in this way, that less labour must be expended
in producing the machinery than is displaced by the employment of
that machinery, For the capitalist, however, this use is still
more limited. Instead of paying for the labour, he only pays the
value of the labour-power employed; therefore, the limit to his
using a machine is fixed by the difference between the value of
the machine and the value of the labour-power replaced by it."


"The Yankees have invented a stone-breaking machine. The English
do not make use of it, because the 'wretch' who does this work
gets paid for such a small portion of his labour, that machinery
would increase the cost of production to the capitalist."

Allin Cottrell
ope mailing list
Received on Wed May 6 20:09:43 2009

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