[OPE-L:4251] Re: variable capital and time

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 25 Feb 1997 08:27:38 -0800 (PST)

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Paul C wrote in [OPE-L:4248]:

> I think that you are getting yourselves into a whole pile
> of nonsense with no bearing on the real world with
> such questions.
> They are entirely an artifact of the modeling process,
> which introduces the arbitrary construct of a 'production
> period'. There is no such thing when considering society
> as a whole.
> The appropriate formalism is in terms of continuous flows
> and the differential calculus.

I don't think that units of time spent in production are _entirely_
"arbitrary constructs". If a "production period" has no bearing on the
real world, what about other standards of time, e.g. an hour of SNLT, a
working day, a workweek?

It is true, in a sense, that a production period is arbitrary. Yet, the
creation of this "arbitrary" measure is a reflection of a real social
and historical process ...

Marx expresses the historical importance of the measurement of time to
capitalism as follows:

"The *clock* is based on the craftsmanship of artinsal
production together with the erudition which characterises the
dawn of bourgeois society. It gives the idea of the automatic
mechanism and of automatic motion applied to production. The
history of the clock goes hand in hand with the history of the
theory of modern motion. What, without the clock, would be a
period in which the value of the commodity, and therefore the
labor time necessary for its production, are the decisive
factor?" (CW:33:403).

The allocations of money-capital on c + v are not "continuous" -- they
are rather discontinuous. In the case of v, the question I posed before
concerned the implications of believing that money-wages were paid to
workers only at the end of a "period" (let's say, a year). I believe that
there are both natural and social limits to the period of time that
wage-earners can and will wait before they receive payment of wages. No
doubt capitalists would _like_ to lengthen this period as long as
possible, but -- as I say -- there are limits that are a consequence both
of social relations of production (the non-ownership of means of
production by workers and their reliance on money wages for survival)
and the struggle between capital and labor. Do you not agree?

In solidarity, Jerry