Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Paula <>
Date: Tue Oct 05 2010 - 18:45:40 EDT

Dave wrote:
> ... I think it will break apart once you look closer at the
> dichotomy 'object' vs. 'service'. E.g. is a heart surgery an 'object' or
> a 'service'?

No problem here, heart surgery is a service. A service is always an
activity, not a thing. It's easy to distinguishing the two.

> I think you would have a hard time arguing that this view is equivalent to
> that of Marx. Could you give some textual evidence of this? I think one
> can find several passages that suggest the contrary.

We can find passages in Marx to support any position on this issue, unless
we are very careful. Remember that Marx uses the words 'productive',
'production', etc, in many different senses.

Ian wrote:
> The context was the labor-value of a commodity, not the substance of
> value.

Value is a form, abstract labor is its content. It's impossible to explain a
form without reference to its content. It's also impossible to explain a
phenomenon without reference to the process that creates it. And this helps
us answer Ian's question:

> How do you interpret this passage?

I don't know German, but I'll go with Chris's translation (number 5) since
it's the last one posted on this thread. The most interesting thing about
the passage is that Marx takes a single commodity and abstracts it both from
the process of production and from its relation of exchange with other
commodities. And, quite rightly, he tells us that we can't see any value in
it. Value, therefore, is not natural. Since its substance is social (labor),
value as a form is only expressed in the social relation of one commodity to
another (exchange). None of this contradicts my point that the commodity is
a physical object (not an activity) that embodies a certain amount of labour
(in both its useful and abstract aspects). In fact, the passage supports my
point, because you cannot take a service and abstract it from its production
process. The service is consumed precisely at the same time as it is
produced. It does not have an independent existence (as an object that can
be "twisted and turned") during which it can be exchanged in the market.
This all follows from its being an activity rather than a thing.

Ian also wrote:
>You think services cannot be a "congealment of labor" because they are not
>"physical" ... But that doesn't mean services do not have a labor-value,
>i.e. require a definite amount of coexisting labor to produce.

I'm clearly saying that services ARE physical - what can be more physical
than heart surgery? And sure, all services require definite amounts of
labor; but that can't possibly imply that all services are values, otherwise
we'd have to conclude that financial services, retail services, etc, are


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