Re: [OPE] Mastering Marxian Economics

From: Dave Zachariah (
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 10:04:39 EDT

> No,  I was _not_ using VLP in the sense of (b). You wrote previously
> of (b) that it is a "more general and historically invariant concept".
> I do not conceive of the VLP (or value, SNLT, and labour power
> as a commodity) as a trans-historical concept and this constitutes one
> of the major theoretical disagreements that I have with you (and
> Paul C and Allin and ....).  What is crucial from my perspective is
> that these concepts are specific to the CMP and a particular form of
> labor.

Ok. You agree that "the *total* labour necessary to reproduce the 
capacity to work" is a general concept.

What precisely is your VLP then? Labour-power as a commodity is one 
historically specific concept, i.e. it does not apply in say feudalism. 
However, from your previous exchanges your VLP seems to boils down to 
"the social labour necessary to reproduce the capacity to work", which 
is nothing but a subset of the labour above. What is the historical 
specific part here?

 From a scientific point of view I cannot really understand your major 
theoretical disagreement. Of course, certain objects of study require 
specific concepts, but scientific practice opts for concepts that allow 
us to generalize and compare objects. A comparative historical 
understanding requires general concepts such as "class", "surplus 
labour", "relations of production" etc. For instance, the social labour 
time necessary to reproduce some use-value sets a general constraint on 
any society not merely capitalist societies.

It is precisely through historically invariant concepts that we can get 
a better understanding of what is historically specific to capitalism. 
Isn't there an analogous case in biology?

//Dave Z
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