Ajit Sinha (email@example.com)
Sun, 26 Dec 1999 16:41:10 +0530
Steve Keen wrote:
> This issue of the reduction of skilled labor to unskilled was solved by
> Hilferding--though very few if any Marxists seem to have noticed this.
> His solution was a brilliant application of the concept of a dialectic
> between use-value and exchange-value/value (I use the double form here
> because Marx generally operated as if the latter two were equivalent,
> though as discussed earlier, at a finer level of semantics, ev is the form
> and v the substance)--possibly the best application of it outside Marx's
> own proof of the source of surplus value.
> Hilferding was replying to Bohm-Bawerk's critique of Capital, in which
> inter alia, BB criticised what he perceived Marx's method of reducing
> skilled labor to multiples of unskilled labor.
> Marx never actually provided any mechanism, but BB presumed this was that
> the labor-time involved in acquiring skill was reamortised in the
> productivity of the skilled laborer.
> Bohm-Bawerk quotes Grabski as saying that "`an hour of skilled labor
> contains several hours of unskilled labor.'" However, Bohm-Bawerk argues
> that if the labor which went into educating a workman simply reappeared in
> the product, then "there could only be actually five hours of unskilled
> labor in one hour of skilled
> labor, if four hours of preparatory labor went into every hour of skilled
> labor" (Bohm-Bawerk 1896, pp. 84-85). Thus, according to Bohm-Bawerk's
> interpretation of Marx's reasoning, the ratio of skilled labor to unskilled
> labor would in practice be at most of the order of two, and not, as Marx
> muses, of the order of six
> (Marx 1867, p. 192).
> To explain how education can increase both the value of skilled labor and
> also the value-creating power of that labor--thus enabling an hour of
> skilled labor to produce much more value than an hour of unskilled
> labor--Hilferding refers to education transferring both value and use-value
> to the student. He first hypothetically reduces the labor of the tutor to
> "a number of unskilled labors". Then he characterizes the value-creating
> power as the *use-value* of the technical educator: training "thus creates
> on the one hand new value and transmits on the other to its product its
> use-value--to be the source of new value." (ibid., p. 145).
> The main relevant cites on this are:
> "The labour of the technical educator thus transmits, not only *value*
> (which manifests itself in the form of a higher wage), but in addition its
> own *value-creating power*."(pp. 144-45.)
> "Unskilled labour, if applied to the production of a qualified or skilled
> labour power, creates on the one hand the value of this labour power... but
> on the other hand ... it creates a new use-value, ... that there is now
> available a labour power which can create value with all those
> potentialities possessed by the unskilled labours utilized in its formation."
> Training "thus creates on the one hand new value and transmits on the other
> to its product its use-value--to be the source of new value."(p. 145, both
> quotes. The comment about unskilled labor generating skilled is a result of
> Hilferding first reducing the input from the educator to a multiple of
> unskilled labor).
> Hilferding thus gives the use-value a specifically economic role as the
> motivation for training labor in the first place--to increase its
> value-creating capacity. He also completely separates the quantitative
> valuation of this use-value from the cost of training, its exchange-value.
> This analysis thus allows education to be an additional source of surplus
> value. Hilferding is thus comfortably able to conclude that skilled labor
> is worth multiples of unskilled labor in value creation terms.
> Using Hilferding's method, the training inputs will determine the wage paid
> to skilled labor, but the additional productivity of the skilled
> laborer--the use-value of the education imparted--is independent of the
> cost of education, and the "value-creating power" of education can only be
> determined ex-post. Skilled labor can therefore add much more value than
> the education cost--which as Hilferding points out means that education can
> be a source of additional surplus value.
So, Steve! What is the quantitative solution to the problem? Have a happy
millennium everybody! Cheers, ajit sinha
> Bohm-Bawerk, E., 1896. Karl Marx and the Close of His System, Sweezy, P.
> (ed.), 1949, Orion, New York
> Harvey, P., 1985. "The Value-creating Capacity of Skilled Labor in Marxian
> Economics", Review of Radical Political Economics, Volume 17 No. 1/2, pp.
> Hilferding, R., 1904. "Bohm-Bawerk's Criticism of Marx", in Sweezy, P.
> (ed.), 1949, Karl Marx and the Close of His System, Orion, New York.
> Keen, S., 1993, "The Misinterpretation of Marx's Theory of Value", Journal
> of the History of Economic Thought, 15 (2), Fall, pp. 282-300.
> At 12:27 1999-12-24 -0500, you wrote:
> >I am on my way out of town for ten days, but I want to try write a quick
> >reply to John's comments and questions in (1974) (thanks, John). We can
> >discuss further when I return.
> >1. As I understand it, Marx assumed that skilled labor is some multiple
> >of simple labor, as did Ricardo before him (with many different kinds of
> >skilled labor and hence many different multiples). Marx did not explain
> >how these multiples or "reduction coefficients" are determined. Instead,
> >he just took them as given, again as did Ricardo. In the Critique (p.
> >31), Marx said: "The laws governing this reduction do not concern us
> >2. In the passage from vol. 1 of Capital that John quotes, Marx does not
> >say that these reduction coefficients are determined by market exchange.
> >Rather, he says that the market exchange of commodities as equivalents is
> >evidence that this reduction is made in some way. The reduction
> >coefficients are MANIFESTED in market exchange, but they are NOT
> >DETERMINED by market exchange. Remember that this passage is in the
> >context of a general discussion of "the nature of value INDEPENDENTLY OF
> >ITS FORM OF APPEARANCE" (p. 128, Vintage edition) (with a return to the
> >"form of appearance of value" in Section 3).
> >3. Marx briefly returned to the issue of skilled labor in presenting his
> >theory of surplus-value in Chapter 7. Recall that in this chapter (Sec.
> >2), Marx first calculates the quantity of abstract labor, in units of
> >labor-hours, required as a social average to produce first 10 lbs. of yarn
> >(30 hrs.) and then 20 lbs. of yarn (60 hrs.). All this is independent of
> >prices. Then assuming that the money-value-added per labor-hour is 0.5
> >shillings, Marx determines the price of each of these two quantities of
> >yarn as the product of the number of labor-hours and the money-value-added
> >per labor-hour (i.e. P = mL).
> >Marx mentioned early in this section that he is assuming, for the sake of
> >simplicity, that spinning labor is simple labor (p. 296). He adds:
> >"Later it will be seen that the contrary assumption would make no
> >Then labor in this section, he returns to this point (pp. 304-06). Here
> >Marx says"
> > Whatever the difference in skill there may be between the labor of
> > a spinner and the labor of a jeweler, the portion of his labor by
> > which the jeweler merely replaces the value of his own labor-power
> > does not in any way differ in quality from the additional portion
> > by which he creates surplus-value. In both cases, the surplus-
> > value results only from a quantitative excess of labor, from a
> > lengthening of one and the same labor process: in the one case,
> > the proces of making jewels, in the other, the process of making
> > yarn.
> >In other words, no matter what the reduction coefficients of skilled labor
> >to simple labor are, skilled labor produces surplus-value in the same way
> >as simple labor: by a quantitative extension of the working day beyond
> >necessary labor (i.e. S = m ( Lc - Ln)).
> >I know there is much more to discuss here and I look forward to continuing
> >the discussion when I return.
> >Happy holidays everybody and happy new millennium!
> >May it be a socialist millenium!
> Dr. Steve Keen
> Senior Lecturer
> Economics & Finance
> University of Western Sydney Macarthur
> Building 11 Room 30,
> Goldsmith Avenue, Campbelltown
> PO Box 555 Campbelltown NSW 2560
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