Re: [OPE] "lies, damned lies, and underconsumptionist statistics"

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Sep 30 2010 - 04:10:57 EDT

On 29 September 2010 23:46, Paula <> wrote:

> Dave wrote:
> >'Embodied' is indeed a wording that misleads the reader.
> On the contrary, it's a good word. It makes the point clear. A commodity
> embodies value. Ergo, a commodity is a thing, a material object with an
> independent body, shaped by human labor, and capable of being alienated and
> appropriated.

Personally I have no problem with 'embodied' because I understand it as a
field property that arises from the technical conditions of production. But
as Jurriaan's post highlighted some readers may mistakenly read it as a
physical property of a 'material object' itself. I have not come across
anybody who actually advocates the latter, but on the other hand I don't
think the field property has been clearly theorized.

If I may quote Ian on this (p.31-2):

An object with mass has a weight in virtue of its casual relations to the
gravity field in which it is embedded. Weight cannot be found ‘in’ an
object, no matter how closely we examine it; nonetheless weight is a
measurable property of an object necessary to explain its motion. Although
weight is a property of an individual mass the property is derived from the
context in which the mass is placed. Change the surrounding gravity field,
for example by transporting the object to the moon, and the very same mass
has a different weight. Let’s call this kind of property a ‘field property’.

Labor-values cannot be found ‘in’ commodities; nonetheless labor-values are
measurable properties of commodities necessary to explain their ‘motion’. If
the technical conditions of production should change, for example due to a
change in labor productivity, then labor-values also change. Labor-value,
therefore, is also a field property: it is a property of a commodity derived
from the economic context in which it is placed. [...]

Does a mass ‘have’ a weight? We say it does, even though ‘weight’ is a field
property and, on deeper reflection, is a relation between a mass, a gravity
field and the laws of Newtonian mechanics. The same is true for labor-value:
it is a relation between a use-value, the productivity of labor, and the
dynamic laws of motion of commodity production, i.e. the ‘law of value’

//Dave Z

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Received on Thu Sep 30 04:17:48 2010

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