[OPE-L:2259] Re: Re: : value-form theories

From: riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2000 - 06:06:27 EST

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At 0:38 +0100 21-01-2000, Michael J Williams wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: riccardo bellofiore <bellofio@cisi.unito.it>
>To: Michael J Williams <mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk>; OPE-L
>Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2000 11:35 AM
>Subject: [OPE-L:2251] Re: value-form theories
>> I would appreciate the shortest answer you may give for 'why *labour* in
>> the abstract labour theory of value?'.
>Because 'labour' is Marx's answer to the question How does M => (M + dM)
>occur? And I agree with that.

This is very short, thank you.

Have you a little (not too much) longer answer which does not appeal to
authority. I thought that you, as me, are not interested as such in the
word of the master.

BTW: take whatever theory, which admits that (money) profits exist in
capitalism. *Assume* that commodities are only produced by labour (abstract
l., or whatever kind of labour), so that labour is the only 'productive'
factor. Marx' answer would still fit this situation , which I understand
it's not yours.

Now, go and give a look at Sraffa in the 1960 book. He puts the net product
in prices equal to 1. Then he also put the direct labour of the society
equal to 1. Then assume that there is a wage (share) higher than zero. What
is Sraffa's implied answer to "How does M => (M + dM)?", at the systemic
level (don't worry about relative prices!). Labour.

Of course, you may answer me that here you don't have the dialectical
systematic presentation, etc. Is this necessarily a weakness? Or tu put in
a different way: don't should we explain why we must take a difficult,
roundabout, complicate way to give the same answer?

Similar train of thought may be applied to a lot of other thinkers:
Kalecki, Kaldor, Robinson, even Keynes, and so on, and so on.

Note: I am definitely NOT a Sraffian. But the question is there.
>>The reference to Classical Political
>> Economy is worrying me. Smith has the idea that labour is the source of
>> value, because labour is the *active* element in production,
>That is right as far as it goes
>>in whatever
>> mode of production.
>But that is not, because Value is a category specific to capitalism.

Also for Smith? I was talking about Smith.

>This cannot be Marx's perspective (I hold with
>>I would like to
>> understand how the systematic dialectical presentation explain why labour
>> is the source of *value*, a statement which I hold is valid *only* in
>> capitalism.
>And so does VFT
>> My difficulty of course is to understand how it is possible to
>> have 'labour' in the theory of value without labour as the substance of
>> value.
>Could you explain briefly what you mean by 'labour is the *substance* of

I'll give you my answer in the (next?) future. But don't you think that I
may give you a similar answer as yours above, that is: "I mean what Marx
means when he says that (abstract) labour is the substance of value, and
that it can also be measured in hours"?
>> while I understand that
>> you and Geert dissociate now from labour as the substance of value.
>I'm not sure about Geert, beyond that I think he is of the view that
>'substance' in any rigorous sense is an inappropriate term in the context of
>value-theory. In several recent posts I have explained why imo value is a
>predicate, a property, and so it must be a property *of* something, and that
>something is the Commodity.

Agreed. But the converse is true: the commodity is a commodity because it
is the product of(potential) abstract labour, i.e. the living labour of
the wage worker. Look at Rubin's paper in C&C, n. 5 (I guess). And look at
Marx in the Grundrisse when he speaks of the living labour of the wage
worker as abstract labour 'dunamei'.

>A property can not have a substance, it can only
>be the property of a substance, and you are obviously not claiming that
>Value is a property of abstract labour.

I claim that abstract labour is value in motion.
>> So
>> don't think I am derogatory towards any of the surnames I've done.
>Neither do I. What I said was misplaced and flat-footed irony. Forget it.

Don't worry.
>> the idea in Marx that exploitation arises at the
>> intersection of the labour market and immediate production, and is only
>> actualized in exchange
>I agree with this idea, as does, I guess VFT in all its guises

I'm not sure that what you say it's true. Because what I'm saying implies
that *after* the labour mkt + immediate production, and *before* exchange
on the commodity mkt, it is possible to give a measure (in abstract labour,
hours + (expected) money) of (potential) exploitation. There is a
sequentiality in the 'macro' capitalist process (which is not the
sequentiality of Freeman etc., i.e. it has not very much to do with the
overlapping of periods and/or the 'transformation') which is

D-FL (finance to production + labour mkt)

... P (the capitalist labour process as a means to the valorization process)

... M'-D' (commodity mkt etc.).

I guess you would say that exploitation cannot be measured before having
reached D'. Am I wrong? I would like to maintain that it is
(theoretically, not empirically) measurable. On the other side, I would
accept that M'-D' may affect the actualization of potential exploitation in
the money measure.
>>value is constituted (only) in
>> exchange, without nothing 'substantial' before
>This is not my view, nor, imo, that of VFT.

I'm happy about that. Is this 'substantial' abstract labour (also)
measurable in hours? Then we two have almost the same position!!

Comradely greetings


        Riccardo Bellofiore
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