[OPE-L:2058] Re: Socially necessary labour-time

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 07:43:05 EST

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Jurriaan asks in [OPE-L:2044]:

> 4. However, my question is, does this exhaust the meaning of "socially
> necessary labour" ? I am wondering whether in Marx's dialectical critique
> of political economy, there is not also a "moral-historical component" of
> socially necessary labour.

Good question. I think an analogy can be made between wages which have a
"moral-historical component" and SNLT. That is because what is
socially-necessary changes historically and by region and

btw, the meaning of "moral" in _Capital_ may frequently be
mis-interpreted. That is because, according to Justin Schwartz, former
philosopher and now lawyer, "moral" in the context of pre-20th century
philosophy in the UK is better "translated" into contemporary English
language as "social". E.g. Smith's _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ in
20-21st century language would be better referred to as _The Theory of
Social Sentiments_. Schwartz made this comment in response to questions
by someone from the former "marxism" list who asked why Marx raised the
subject of "morality" when discussing the depreciation of constant fixed
capital ("moral depreciation").
The significance of SNLT, though, is more than quantitative. If a product
fails the test of the market (i.e. if it is not sold), then the
labour-time expending in producing it can not be SN and thus the product
does not value value and is, therefore, not a commodity (even if it was
produced with the intention of sale). Thus, a qualitative change can
occur whereby a "commodity" that was intended to be sold never fully in
reality/actuality becomes a commodity and the "value" that was presumed to
exist after production is shown not to exist.

Perhaps another "moral-historical component" of SNLT concerns the extent
to which *class struggle* can change what is considered, in a given
society, to be SNLT. Thus struggles by workers could result in a change
in SNLT if their struggles succeeded in changing the *intensity of labor*.
In solidarity, Jerry

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