chaion lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 01:05:27 -0800

[ show plain text ]

In regard to Bellofiore[ope-l:565] & Mino[ope-l:?]

1. Belloffiore said the following in his point 3
"Marx says, a few paragraphs after having stated that abstract labour is
physiological labor, that the commodities' objective character as values is
therefore purely social. From this it follows self-evidently that it can only
appear in the social relation between commodity and commodity. I think
anyone is obliged to see these different perspectives at least as a problem
for a too straightforward reduction to abstract labour to only a production
category, but also to any analysis wishing to see in abstract labour a
category representing production before the analysis of exchange.".

In the above, he made a crucial mistake; he does not distinguish between
value on one hand and abstract labour on the other hand. I should read
"Marx says, a few paragraphs after having stated that abstract labour is
physiological labor, that the commodity as a value is purely social". Value
is one thing, abstract labour is another. But he confused the distinction
and then argued for the different perspectives. So, the Mino's statement
"abstract labour is a category of both production and exchange, where
production is determinant" should be read "value is a category of both
production and exchange, where production is determinant".

How is abstract labour different from value, then? Abstract labour is the
substance of value, as we all would agree. Hence, by definition, the
substance of a thing must be different from the thing itself. Abstract
labour is the creator of value. God is the creator of the universe, the god
is different from the universe. In the same manner, the creator, the
abstract labour should be different from the value.

2. Bellofiore's money is a mere symbol (in points 7-9). Yet, symbol is by
definition a purely social one, not a private one. How could then the
symbol be privately owned? And privately produced?

3. In his point 10, Bellofiore says, Marx's value is a category that arises at
the meeting point of production and circulation. Well, where does
production meet circulation? What is the meeting point? Day and night
meet at dawn or at dusk. Do the production and circulation have such a
meeting point? Storage and transportation are also a part of production,
cannot be such a meeting-point. IMO, value arises neither in production
nor in exchange. And not at the meeting point of production and exchange
either. Value is created by labour, this does not mean value arises in
production. Value signifies a social relation and the social relation is not
in production only nor in exchange only, but in the unity of both. (Let me
talk about abstract labour, the value-labor relationship in the next point 4).
Value is a potential existence in the sphere of production and is realized in
that of exchange. This means neither one (neither potential value nor
realized value) is a complete existence. Both are partial. Why? Because
its receptacle (it cannot exist as an independent existence for itself but can
only exist in a container, the use-value) passes through the two phases of
production and exchange. The use-value is social only latently before
exchange. In exchange, its social character is realized. But value itself
does not pass through such two phases. In circulation, it is not value but
use-value that is exchanged. Value is not exchanged but simply remain in
the same hands in the exchange, and simply changes its form from a
commodity form into money form or from money form into a commodity
form without changing hands. Value is created as a potential one in
production and is realized** in THE CHANGE OF VALUE-FORM, ie. in
the exchange of use-value. Elsewhere, it is just a latent existence.

Mino's statement in Bellofiore's point 11 "for Marx abstract labour is also
a category of exchange because it must realize itself through exchange"
should be read as "value (not abstract labour) is also a category of
exchange because it must realize itself through exchange". And we should
dissent from such a position as that value is an exchange category, etc.
When we say of the substance of value, we do not distinguish between
production and exchange, since it is a social substance and the substance
is in the unity of production and exchange. Only when we talk about the
magnitude of value, we should make the distinction between production and
exchange. By competition, social average determines the standard of the
intrinsic measure. Direct, current labour and indirect, past labour should be
measured in different principles. One is in terms of embodied labour and
the other in terms of represented labour (on this I should discuss the
reasons in other occasions). The transformation of value into price of
production signifies the transition of the producer of commodity from labour
to capital. As the act of capital, the production is the creation of surplus
value. But, as the act of labour, the production is the creation of value
itself (corresponding to the amount of direct labour, v+s). Hence, the
distinction between production and exchange should be in a crisscross.
When the production of value is at issue, v and s, which are two parts of
a single entity, must be valued in the same terms. If v is measured in
terms of the price of production of the subsistent goods, then the s is also
to be measured in the same prpr terms of the subsistent goods. When the
production of surplus value is at issue, v and profit, which are not the two
parts of a single entity, need not be in any definite relationship.
Distribution of the total surplus value, not the measurement of the profits,
matters here. I explained this in detail in relation to Shaikh (1978) and
Bortkiewicz in my CJE article section 4 (1973, 17:4).

4. Yes, Bellofiore says in his 12b, "it is living labour which makes value
come to life in a capitalist economy". I should develop this further. Since
the living labour creates value, and abstract labour is the creator of value,
ABSTRACT LABOR is living labor. This is my point. The living labour
is not alive in exchange but in production, and so it should not be an
exchange category! Of course, even an embodied labour has the dual
aspect of labor as abstract labor and concrete labor as is suggested in the
subtitle of Chapter 1, Section 2 of Capital vol I, "The dual character of the
labor embodied in commodities". But to have such a character as abstract
labour is not implying to be the abstract labor. Because living labor has
the dual character, the embodied labor, too has it. Yet embodied labor
cannot produce use-value nor value. Only living labour can do. But the
creator of value is *not every living labour* but the living labour only that
produces a commodity.
(1) An individual labourer's labour in a capitalist economy does not
produce a commodity unless as an organ of a collective laborer. This
means the individual labourer's labour cannot count as the abstract labour.
It should not be counted in the one-to-one correspondence between value
and use-value, on one hand, and, on the other hand, abstract labour and
concrete labor. But it can be in simple commodity production, though.
(2) How can we say **the living labor that produces a commodity** has
the character of abstract labour? In commodity production, the living
labour can do any job in accordance with the direction of social demands.
Some technological, physical impediments can be surmounted by training,
education, etc. If it is not surmountable for a certain period, then the
special labour may count as highly complicated labour, as multiplied simple
labour (on the versatility and flexibility of a commodity producing labor,
please refer to Section 5 of my CJE paper 17:4).

5. Then, someone might ask, "To define abstract labour as the living
labour that produces a commodity is to derive the abstract labour from the
category of the commodity value. If then, is it not circular to explain the
abstract labour that derived from the commodity value as the substance of
value?" My answer is no. The logical anteriority runs from abstract labor
to commodity value, not from the commodity value to abstract labor. The
derivation of abstract labor from the category of commodity value is the
reverse order of the logical anteriority because the derivation is in the
analytical method whereas the logical anteriority is in the synthetic method.
One is from the concrete to the abstract, the other is from the abstract to
the concrete. Chapter 1 of Capital, vol 1 is in the analytical method, but
the rest of it is in the synthetic method. This is my point on Marx's

Thanks, Ciao

Chai-on Lee.