Allin Cottrell cottrell at
Sun Oct 30 12:09:07 MST 1994

>I have been following the Labor theory of Value question and am
>confused.  As far as I can tell from Capital and Grundrisse, Marx never
>gives a very clear definition of what either Labor or Value are.  He
>tries in several places, most notably the early sections of Capital, but
>these seem very flimsy.  What is being used as a definition for Labor and
>for Value?

The fullest discussion of the meaning of 'labor' in Marx is probably in the
text 'Results of the Immediate Process of Production,' which appears as
an Appendix to the Mandel/Fowkes edition of Capital, vol. 1.  I don't see
anything 'flimsy' about this.  'Value,' it is clear from Capital, vol. 1, is
objectified socially necessary labor-time: the value of a product is simply
the amount of labor-time socially necessary for its production.  In
commodity-producing society, value is 'represented' by exchange-value; in
a planned economy it can be calculated directly, and does not take on the
form of exchange-value.
Allin Cottrell
Department of Economics
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
(910) 759-5762
cottrell at


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