Re: [OPE] Mastering Marxian Economics

From: Philip Dunn (
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 20:56:36 EDT

On Mon, 2008-07-28 at 15:44 -0700, Ian Wright wrote:
> Hi Phil
> > 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. 
> Yes. And this is what Marx means when he underlines the irrationality of
> asking, "what is the labor-value of labor?"
> > 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
> > labour.
> But I begin to lose you here. I think it's important that there be a
> quantitative difference between the labor-value of the real wage and the
> direct labor supplied. This difference is the source of new surplus-value.
> In your approach is this distinction lost?
> Best wishes,
> -Ian.

Hi Ian

Yes, I understand your wish to preserve the "´╗┐quantitative difference
between the labor-value of the real wage and the direct labor supplied".
The difference is said to be surplus value. However, I do not wish to
preserve it as an element in value theory. The embodied labour value of
the real wage, a bundle of use-values consumed, is certainly equal to
the *absolute* value of money wages, or at least that part spent rather
than saved. 

By absolute value I mean the following. The absolute value of money is
the ratio of aggregate labour time to aggregate value added, hours per
dollar. To covert from the dollar price of any bundle of produced
commodities to the absolute value, just multiply by this ratio.

I also entertain the notion of real value. The real value of money is
the ratio of aggregate labour time to the aggregate wage bill.

Money has two values. The reason for this is that produced commodities
and producer commodities are incommensurable in exchange. They have no
common measure. Absolute money measures the value of produced
commodities. Real money measures the value of producer commodities.
There are two disjoint spheres of equal exchange. In a money economy the
medium of money ensures that effectively everything exchanges with
everything else. Produced commodities exchange equally with produced
commodities. Producer commodities exchange equally with producer
commodities. But exchange between produced and producer commodities is
neither equal nor unequal because they have no common money measure.

This incommensurability is what makes surplus value possible.

My usual hobby-horse of the non-existence of price value deviations is
implied throughout.

I also have not brought in the distinction between relative and
equivalent value. 

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