[Marxism] Abstract labor (long)
johnaimani at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 20 12:42:21 MDT 2010
Let us see if we are talking apples or oranges. I wish to again take
issue with your contention that:
<<Value only exists under commodity production.>>
My conception of Marx' assay of the value of a commodity is the total
amount (NB: calculated in labor-time) of the c + v + s (i.e. c-capital
invested in means of prod; v-capital invested in labor-power; and,
s-portion of the outcome that is appropriated w/o compensation (i.e.
labor-time past the point of 'necessary labor' (during which time the
value of the wage is recreated)). You wrote:
<<Marx does not want to prove that *value* exists in all modes of
That may be so, however, the above posited definition of value is
timeless and belongs solely to no particular mode of production. As you
<<the "determinations" of value (Wertbestimmungen) are universal>>
Below that, you wrote:
<<Labor-time, in socialism, has two social functions: it is needed to
allocate labor efficiently to the different branches of production, and
in early socialism it is also needed to allocate the finished product to
the consumers (to each according to his labor). But again it does not
become a quasi-material attribute of the products themselves (value).
Value only exists under commodity production.>>
This "quasi-material" substance, I admit, does exist as if
extra-dimensions (of a societal nature) attach themselves to the
object. And I agree that these "only exists under commodity
production." However, it appears to me, and correct me if I am wrong,
that this "quasi-material" substance is, indeed, 'value' of a sort, i.e.
Let me put it this way, the concept of value has 3 interpretations
(manifestations) and these interpretations exist, and exist only, in
separate circuits of production. These are:
use value-2nd (Production) and 4th (Consumption) wherein products are
valued for their facility to directly satisfy end-users needs.
Value-1st Circuit (Planning (in capitalism and socialism (i.e. where the
guiding principle is, as you mentioned, "to each according to his
labor"), the factors market)) -where products are assayed to determine
their labor-time content. This is compared with the expected outcome
resulting from their use in production and decisions are made whether or
not it is worth it to pursue the hiring of these factors. Under
capitalism and in socialism, these labor-time contents are translated,
transformed if you will, into currency-equivalents.
Exchange-value-3rd Circuit (Distribution) wherein products produced are
directed (under capitalism and in socialism) to the highest bidder.
Value is calculated in labor-time; exchange-value is calculated in
monetary equivalent of labor-time (MELT); and, use-value (we must, at
this point, invite in the 'marginalists' as Marx gives us no measuring
stick of satisfaction of need/desire) can be measured in 'utils'.
It appears, that these 3 different manifestations are but different
guises of the same thing existing separately in these separate circuits.
Of these 3, only the 2nd (exchange-value) disappears in communism. The
other two continue for as Marx said, and I repeat from my previous posting:
"...after the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, but
still retaining social production, the determination of value continues
to prevail in the sense that the regulation of labour-time and the
distribution of social labour."
As to your 2nd assertion that:
<<I agree that the definition of simple abstract human labor is labor
which everybody in society can do.>>
No. Abstract Human Labor (AHL) is the labor (no matter what kind
whether simple (uni-functional) or complex (multi-functional)) that is
exactly average in its value-adding abilities. This is Marx' measuring
stick. His means of quantifying human effort. Consider:
The value of a commodity (including labor-power) is composed of the
labor-time equivalent of in this case of labor-power, all of the food,
clothing, shelter, care and feeding by parent(s), education, etc et al.
This acquired value is translated (under capitalism and socialism) into
an exchange value measured by a currency-equivalent (wage). Over time,
and considering Marx' posited equality of exchange between value and
wage, then the sum total of wages (if Marx' theory of the 'subsistence
wage' is correct) will, on average, exactly recompense the laborer these
costs-of-production of herself as a commodity, labor-power. According
to this logic, a second laborer-to-be in a more skilled position might
have, say, 2x the production costs of the AHL, and therefore is not only
2x as productive in his value-adding ability; but, also receives as
recompense for his costs-of-production
The matter I think is settled by asking the question "How to quantify
abstract human labor?" I repeat from above your definition:
<<abstract human labor is labor which everybody in society can do>>
I don't know how it is that one can extract from such a definition the
measuring stick that Marx has made of abstract human labor.
And again offer this one:
"Abstract Human Labor" is labor whose value-adding capability is exactly
the average. "
Quantification (though maybe complex (as in computing the MELT of love
and care)) is theoretically possible as, using a faux calculation, I
have previously demonstrated in a paper entitled "The Part Played by
Labor in the Reproduction of Labor-powers:
On 11:59 AM, ehrbar wrote:
With the Robinson and other examples in the section about the
fetish-like character of the commodity, Marx does not want to prove
that*value* exists in all modes of production,
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