[Marxism] Abstract labor (long)

johnaimani 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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