Marx and Living Labour (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
From his early economic works on, Marx conceived the labour of any kind of society as a set of production activities and analysed the historical modes of production as specific ways of distributing and exchanging these activities. Political economy on the contrary considers the labour only under the form of its product, and the exchange of products as commodities as the unique form of social labour exchange. For Marx, insofar as the labour creating value represents a specific mode of exchanging the society's living labour, general and abstract labour cannot not only be defined as the substance or measure unit of the commodity, as in Smith or Ricardo, but foremost as an expense of living labour, i.e. of nerves, muscles, brain, etc. Hence the twofold nature of living labour, as a concrete activity producing a use value and an expense of human labour in general producing exchange value. Marx himself claimed that this twofold nature of labour creating value was its main and most important contribution to economic science. This book aims at showing how both determines the original categories and economic laws in Capital and constitutes the profound innerspring of Marx's critique of political economy. The role and function of living labour is highlighted by dealing with the difference between Marx and Classics' theories of labour value; money and the problems of its integration in economic analysis, especially in Keynes; the transition from feudalism to capitalism; the theory of capital through a discussion on the Cambridge controversy and the transformation problem; the labour process and the principles of labour management; unemployment and overpopulation; the formulas of capital in the history of economic thought; finally, an interpretation of the current crisis based on Marx's conception of overaccumulation and speculation after having distinguished it from underconsumption and stagnation theories of crises.
development of trade and monetary circulation at the beginning of the fourteenth century: The decades either side of 1300 were outstanding for the volume of commerce and the quantity of currency in circulation. Urban populations were 68 The labour and its forms larger than at any other period of the Middle Ages and the number of formal markets and fairs was at its height. These observations could all be used to argue that the economy was more commercialised in 1300 than in 1500. At the latter
theory 105 mathematical solution to the transformation of values into prices of production by means of a matrix of production inspired by the Leontief and Perron- Frobenious theorem. His system just required the prior choosing of a postulate of invariance such as equality of values and prices (Winternitz, 1948) or equality of surplus values and profits (Meek, 1956). Thus Seton thought that his solution was indeterminate since according to him nothing can justify a priori to choose one
Watt’s steam engine or Arkwright’s spinning machine directly opposed the objective power of social knowledge to living labour. But for two reasons inherent to the capital–know ledge relationship the objectification of knowledge in fixed capital is not sufficient for subjecting the social production to the control of general intellect. First, machinery already supposes a deep division of labour and develops on account of a close interdependence between all the production branches. Second, as we
organic composition of capital, increases also the rate of profit thanks to the rise in the labour productivity which is assumed entirely absorbed by profits. At the beginning, the firm introducing a more productive method earns a surplus profit by selling the lowered production cost commodity at the previous price. But soon the spread of the new technique to all branches lowers the market price at the new value. Nevertheless, says Okishio, the rate of profit would be higher than the one
138 The capital–labour relationship Given the working day, the methods for decreasing necessary labour and increasing surplus labour are methods for producing relative surplus value. As we have seen, in Modern Industry this process takes place through technical progress. In a sense, all forms of technical progress, from new machines to saving of raw materials, contribute to increase relative surplus value, as they contribute to lower the value of commodities that enter directly and indirectly