Re: [OPE] Mastering Marxian Economics

From: Philip Dunn (
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 18:26:22 EDT

My characterisation of the expression 'value of labour-power' as
irrational does need a bit of explanation.

I am not following Marx's discussion, in the Economic Manuscripts
1861-63, of the irrationality of the expression 'value of labour'.

I am saying that the expression 'value of labour' is irrational because
value and labour are identical. No-one would say "the value of embodied
labour ..." because the value of produced commodities and their embodied
labour is the same thing. Similarly, labour activity, or living labour,
and value creating activity are the same thing. Further, the
labour-power of the producer commodity and its value are the same thing.
Changed terminology is required to express this. Speak of embodied
labour value, value creating labour activity and labour-power value.

This labour-power value has nothing to do with necessary labour time. If
measured in clock hours, one hour of the producer commodity hired means
one hour of labour-power value. Labour-power value is not embodied

On Mon, 2008-07-28 at 11:00 +0200, Dave Zachariah wrote:
> Philip Dunn wrote:
> > I hold, however, that the expression 'value of labour-power' is as
> > irrational as the expression 'the value of labour'.
> >   
> I wouldn't say that it is irrational. But I think the way "VLP" is used 
> by Jerry leads to a weak theory. Rather I'd distinguish:
>     (a) the labour-value of the real wage
>     (b) the total labour (social *and* domestic) necessary to reproduce
>     the capacity to work
> I think that given Marx's demonstration of exploitation under equivalent 
> exchange it is best to call (a) the "value of labour-power", since it 
> was "labour-power" as a historically specific commodity that was his 
> theoretical invention. Whereas (b) is a more general and historically 
> invariant concept.
> //Dave Z
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