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Some interesting posts

A couple of interesting posts are up on the blogs, for those of you interested in their content — go figure!

  1. Jim has a note up regarding Kicilof’s and Starosta’s critique of Rubin’s understanding of value. I’m trying to work out what I think about it. Not quite there yet.
  2. Lumpenprof has one up on the status of digital commodities and use.

Both of these seem to be caught up in problems of defining what is or is not productive labor in capitalism — of determining what sort of labor counts. The total social orientation of capitalism is prefigured in that determination, or it prefigures that determination, so finding a way of hashing out the mores and legislation that doles out remuneration to workers or monetizes the unpaid labor of whoever would be important in coming to grips with both their concerns. At any rate, they are worth a read.

Categories: Asides.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the shout out, JCD.

    Rubin has a particular account of productive and unproductive labor in his Essays, but that’s not really what Kicilof and Starosta critique in that snippet I posted. They’re critiquing Rubin’s idea that abstract labor cannot precede the existence of systematic exchange, since systematic exchange brings abstract labor into existence. Kicilof and Starosta argue that Rubin is confusing the mode by which abstract labor realizes itself with the cause of abstract labor. Rubin’s argument goes like this:Value as a whole is purely social.

    If value as a whole is purely social, no part of value can be social.

    Abstract labor is a part of value (it’s its substance).

    Therefore, abstract labor must be purely social. (It can’t be equivalent with physiologically equal labor.)Kicilof and Starosta basically agree with 1-3, but they don’t think the jump to 4 is valid. They show why the move from 3 to 4 is wrong, they show the assumptions Rubin holds that gets him from 3 to 4, and they show how those assumptions lead to what they call “antinomies” in his thought.

    It’s a real pinheaded debate that only about five living people care about. I find it interesting, of course, but then, I’ve read Rubin and find his account of the labor theory of value pretty accurate. Though it might not matter that much to someone who hasn’t spent time with Rubin’s text.

    • Hey Jim, I bring up productive and unproductive labor only because it seems to me that any quantitative determination of value presupposes that set of practices that qualitatively determines what sort of labor can count. It seems to me that inquiring into the existence of value is really not so much the right tact; it’d be more fruitful to inquire into the system that makes such and such worth such and such.

      A couple of questions:

      If value as a whole is purely social, no part of value can be social.”
      What does this mean? And if it means what it states on the face, why?

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