[Marxism] Heinrich

William Cockshott William.Cockshott at glasgow.ac.uk
Sun Feb 17 13:13:12 MST 2013

 "You're confusing concrete labor with abstract labor, which I think is the fundamental flaw in your analysis."

No I am not confusing them. As soon as you add time spent on two different tasks in a production process the total you have is abstract not concrete labour. If a project manager is planning a project and estimating its cost in person months, they list the various conrete tasks, work out how many person months each will take - each of these is concrete labour - and they come up with a sum in man months which is abstract labour since in this sum the concrete tasks are abstracted from by the operation of addition.

This is, as I said in the article, exactly the same type of abstraction performed by addition that occurs when you add up
wieght of flour, weight of suggar, weight of butter, weight of eggs and get the weight of your cake - or any other 
addition of disparate things weights.

It is a property of the addition operator in arithmetic that it is an information destroying operation, from the sum
you can not deduce the specific components, the abstraction involved in abstract labour, abstract weight etc derives from this property of arithmetic.

We should not incidentally take Marx's vanity at face value. Just because he claimed to have discovered abstract labour, it does not indicate that previous writers like Smith did not in practice work with the concept, it is just that the Scots philosopher would not make a song and dance of it the way the German one did.

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