Re: [OPE-L] New article at artefact

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2006 - 12:54:57 EST

>Rakesh, let me try to reformulate your argument in my own
>words, and concentrate on relations of production rather
>than distribution.  I think you are saying: even if the
>labors of different individuals are not counted by society
>as equals, it is a physiological truth that each labor is
>the performance of human labor-power, and obviously the
>amount of human labor-power available to society is limited.
>Therefore it is justified to consider all labor to be a
>portion of this use of the limited pool of available human
>My answer: of course you can make this calculation, but the
>question is whether this calculation matters for society.
>When I was working on the assembly line in Detroit in the
>1970s, one of my proletarian friends on purpose disabled the
>dishwasher in his apartment because he thought is was good
>for wife and kids to wash and dry the dishes by hand.  You
>can easily compute how much labor this family is wasting,
>but this labor-time calculation is a theoretical exercise
>irrelevant for the day-to-day workings of the family itself.

Hans, this is not what I mean by social labor. This is a case
of private labor undertaken to meet immediately a private
need. Social labor time is that time in which cooperative acts
are undertaken for the production of social use values.
Humanity must engage in social labor.

>Of course this example is limited.  A single family cannot
>insulate itself from the capitalist need to economize human
>labor: perhaps the wife has to get a job, and suddenly the
>dish washer becomes a necessity.  A whole society however
>can survive centuries despite wasting labor in similar ways;
>indeed it may depend on similar labor-wasting practices
>in order to maintain the inequalities without which it would
>In other words: labor-time is a constraint in every society,
>but it is not always a binding constraint, other constraints
>may take precedence.  Market relations tend to remove those
>other constraints so that labor-time is the only constraint

Yet commodities do not exchange at values as determined
by their own social production time. Even in capitalist
society the value of a commodity in the sense of the
social labor which it represents is not directly determined
by production time alone.

Yours, Rakesh


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Mar 03 2006 - 00:00:01 EST