What is abstract work

Chapter, Minutes Part 2:

2. The dual character of the work represented in the commodities

“In the totality of different use-values ​​or commodities, there appears a totality of just as varied, according to genus, species, family, subspecies, variety of different useful labor - a social division of labor. It is the condition of existence of commodity production, although commodity production is not, conversely, the condition of existence of the social division of labor. In the ancient Indian community, work is socially divided without the products becoming commodities. Or, a closer example, in every factory the work is systematically divided, but this division is not mediated by the fact that the workers exchange their individual products. Only products of independent and mutually independent private work face each other as goods. "

The production of goods presupposes the division of labor, division of labor = specialization, but does not require the production of goods.
It does not follow from the fact that different people make different useful objects that they have to trade / sell them.
That is, criticism of the dual character of the commodity, of the existence of all use-values ​​as objects of exchange, and a call for the abolition of commodity production is not a call to “get back to nature!”, to the Middle Ages, to closed housekeepingas some opponents of Marx's analysis of the same assume.
First, there are two extensions of this false idea Marxist-Leninists, Representatives of the Histomat: Human society is always moving forward, the division of labor is a higher level of development than just producing for oneself, capitalism perfects the division of labor, divides labor into smaller and smaller operations, and communism must build on this, in the sense of: the capitalist division of labor must be promoted, and equalization and distribution must be achieved through distribution.
Second in the Economicswhere division of labor with market economy equated becomes: division of labor conditionally Exchange. The Private property is therefore a matter of course, grows out of the division of work, as it were.

S 57:
“It doesn't matter to the skirt whether it is worn by the tailor or by the tailor's customer. In both cases it acts as a use value. Just as little has the relationship between the skirt and the work that produces it in and of itself been changed by the fact that tailoring becomes a special profession, an independent member of the social division of labor. Wherever the need for clothing compelled him, man tailored for millennia before a man became a tailor. But the existence of rock, canvas, any element of material wealth that is not naturally present, always had to be mediated by a special, purposefully productive activity which assimilates special natural substances to special human needs. As a creator of use values, as useful work, work is therefore a condition of human existence that is independent of all forms of society, an eternal natural necessity in order to mediate the metabolism between human beings and nature, that is, human life. "

What is pointed out here: Division of labor is not necessary, therefore at all produced becomes. It is not about specialization per se, but about the im capitalism: The division of labor in capitalism however, there is always that moment in itself, that through it, the producer for others which - in the case of the tailor - his Gwand wear want him at the same time against others that produces the same needs serve. With the production for others, he also produces against others who do the same thing as himself. Thus the conflicting interests are already contained in this type of production: First, the tailor makes his skirt for someone else, to whom he then wants to sell it - he wants as much as possible for the skirt, the buyer wants to give as little as possible for it. In addition, he immediately competes with other tailors who want to sell their stuff as well as possible. Under the conditions of commodity production, the division of labor immediately creates the well-known conflicting interests, between buyer-seller, and between the various sellers who compete for limited solvency on the market.

In the View of the HistoMat are such designs that a Criticism of commodity production are always to one Praise the same: It needs the production of goods, so that there is a division of labor, so that there is progress in production that Productive forces developed become. This means that the production of goods is sacrosanct, so to speak; one must not touch it, but rather its negative ones consequences have to be managed somehow, that is the job of communism. All with reference to Marx, of course.

S 57, below - S 58, above
“If one subtracts the total of all the various useful works that are stuck in the skirt, canvas, etc., a material substrate always remains that is naturally present without human intervention. Man can only proceed in his production like nature itself, i.e. only change the forms of the substances. Even more. In this work of formation itself he is constantly supported by natural forces. Labor is therefore not the only source of the use values ​​it produces, of material wealth. Work is his father, as William Petty says, and the earth is his mother. "

The first piece of information in this passage is: You always need work, and that's a good thing. Work is in itself nothing bad, nothing harmful or damaging, neither for humans nor for nature. Under the conditions of wage labor, however, it necessarily becomes uncomfortable.
Second, nature is that basis work. Nature and its appropriation through work are the two elements of production. There is no contradiction here. The opposition between nature and work, the use and destruction of nature, is the result of the capitalist mode of production and is not a necessity of production at all.
Thirdly, it is not only work that creates the material wealth of society, but also nature, in its appropriation by humans.

In the post-Marxist, social-democratic and Marxist-Leninist point of view, nature has either been ticked off under further running, it's just there, and that's it. Or immediately as a negative, as something to be subjugated, to be fought against - with quite a ruthlessness towards the natural conditions and the environment of the working population. (The reason for this lies in their understanding of work as a legal title to be used, but that is not the subject of capital, but belongs to its history of reception.)

What's up with “simple” and “complicated” work? (P 59)

“Carrying a sack from A to B is undoubtedly easy work because it does not require any special knowledge, although it is exhausting. Drawing up plans for a house to be built, on the other hand, is complicated and requires a lot of knowledge. How do they relate to one another?
Marx thinks that complicated work is a multiple of simple work, but refuses (footnote S 59) that he does this Wage system has in mind. "

Then what is this about?
Offer 1: The point is that complicated work contains a multiple of effort, is concentrated, so to speak. The knowledge that the architect has must first go through training getting produced. And for this training a great deal of simpler work is required, which only creates the surplus on which such work can be built disposable time, that is necessary for training is generated. In order to be able to train architects or doctors, a lot of people first have to have made shoes, groceries and houses in order to be able to release others to train to become such specialists. In this respect, the complicated work is a result of the accumulated simple work.
Offer 2: It's about skill. Someone who has learned a certain profession or craft creates many things faster than someone who is just starting out. So he creates more objects in the same time than someone else who takes longer to do so - in other words, a multiple of the other in the same time.
Note, and here we are at the abstract workSo actually with the wage system: If all jobs are equated with each other - work per time - then the only differences that are made between individual jobs are pure more quantitative Nature as any difference in the quality of the various works is deleted.

Assumption: Marx wants to point out that the division of labor, specialization presupposes certain prerequisites in the production of the socially necessary objects of daily use, so that luxury production is possible.

To which ideologies does this distinction give? Conditions of the wage system Occasion?

First of all in capitalism Explanation the Income differences: Someone is capable, the other is lazy, so one gets more than the other. Second, for the trade union, works councils to tinker with, in cooperation with the entrepreneurial side: why and how much does one worker / employee earn more than the other? Third, in the ideological discussion, about the justification the Income differences: because someone gets more than the other, he must therefore be particularly capable / skillful, etc.

Also, in the Real socialism to endless debates about that fair wages Given the occasion: should the doctor earn more than the factory worker? The former does more pleasant work, was trained in social work, the other really tries hard, uses a lot more muscle, etc.

On reading pages 59-60 the question arose, why does Marx repeat things here that have already been dealt with once? Why does he once again point out the difference between use value and exchange value, the difference between concrete and abstract labor?

Answer: Because he wants to point out once again from the difference that has already been developed what follows from it: Differences in the productivity of labor lead to a decrease (or increase) in exchange value, although the demand, the need for the corresponding commodity remains the same or is not affected by it. As if he had suspected that one day “supply” and “demand” would become the determining categories of economics for determining exchange value ...
The difference between concrete and abstract labor is also mentioned again: Through exchange, differences in production in one sphere also affect the exchange values ​​of the products of other spheres - a good that is suddenly produced cheaper firstly changes the exchange values ​​of those goods in which it is contained is, secondly, but also those with whom it exchanges, and sometimes throws other products that are not immediately necessary from the market.

Footnote S 61: This is about something that Marx values ​​about Adam Smith and what he criticizes him in:

S 61, footnote:
To prove "that labor alone is the final and real measure by which the value of all commodities can be estimated and compared at all times," says A. Smith: "Equal quantities of work must have the same value for the worker himself at all times and in all places. In his normal state of health, strength and activity and with the average degree of skill he may possess, he must always have the same portion of himself Indulge in rest, freedom and happiness. " ("Wealth of Nations", b. I, ch. V, [p.104 / 105].) On the one hand, A. Smith confuses here (not everywhere) the determination of value through the quantity of labor expended in the production of the commodity with the determination commodity values ​​by the value of labor and therefore seeks to prove that equal quantities of labor always have the same value. On the other hand, he suspects that work, insofar as it is represented in the value of the goods, is only considered to be the expenditure of labor power, but again regards this expenditure as merely a sacrifice of peace, freedom and happiness, not also a normal activity in life. However, he has the modern wage worker in mind. - The anonymous predecessor of A. Smith quoted in Note 9 says much more accurately: "A man spent a week producing this commodity ... and someone who gives him another object in exchange cannot correctly estimate what is really equivalent than by calculating what is costing him the same amount of labor and time.This actually means exchanging the labor that one person has spent on one object in a given time for that of another, in the same time on another Related subject.

Marx here credits Smith for having recognized that the labor contained in commodities is the determining factor for their value, and consequently for their exchange value. However, he blames Smith for having the individually applied Work as a value carrier determines, and not the average socially necessary work. So Smith disregards competition in determining the value of the commodity, which would mean that the slower or more clumsy would attract more exchange value than the faster and more skillful.
At the same time, Smith speaks of “equal quantities of work”, so he has the abstract measure of work in mind, without its reason: to express competition.
The second confusion that Marx accuses Smith here has to do with the price of labor, wages, small v, and is not yet the subject of this.


3. The form of value or exchange value

An object only receives value in exchange: it is only when it expresses its exchange value in another commodity that it can only claim to contain value. For themselves, without comparison with any other use value, an object can never be a commodity.
So much for the question: Where does value arise? In production or in circulation? Without circulation, exchange, value can never arise, because use values ​​contain labor power, but that is not enough to generate it become worthto let n - for that he has to asExchange valueappear.
It takes the exchange, with it Exchange value arises, and an immanent value of the commodity can show itself at all. It is only through the exchange that the value, the work invested, becomes visible at all, and becomes a quantity with which one can and must calculate.

The digression that Marx announced on S 53 closes on S 62: There he writes:
“What we have in common, which is represented in the exchange relationship or exchange value of the commodity, is therefore its value. The progress of the investigation will lead us back to exchange value as the necessary form of expression or appearance of value, which, however, must initially be viewed independently of this form. "

Now we are back at that value appear must in order to be:
If, however, we remember that commodities only have an object value insofar as they are expressions of the same social unit, human labor, that their objectivity is therefore purely social, then it goes without saying that they only appear in the social relationship of goods to goods can. Indeed, we proceeded from the exchange value or exchange ratio of commodities in order to track down their hidden value. We must now return to this manifestation of value.


A) (hereinafter also I) Simple, single or random form of value:

Goods x = goods y

For Marx, it makes a difference which commodity receives value, which gives value: The two terms used by Marx: relative form of value and Equivalent form are to be regarded as definitions. He calls them that, he makes a point of distinguishing them from one another. What is left and right of the equals sign is different.

x, relative form of value: that is, this commodity, this object receives its value by another. The other gives it value, allows it to have value.
The value of commodity x is thus expressed in commodity y.

The commodity y, on the other hand, is the one that gives value. It allows the commodity x to be of value by exchanging itself for it. If commodity y is missing, or commodity x gives the cold shoulder, then commodity x is worthless, has failed on the market: it has not proven itself by comparison with another commodity, has failed to realize its value, and is therefore worthless.

In the simple form of value, although both sides need each other, one thing is already evident: The relative form of value requires the equivalent form, x needs y in order to be in the market, in exchange to prove.

The equivalent form, on the other hand, has a quiet life: it is the one that has value confers. The commodity y also comes on the market in order to be sold, but has the advantage that it recognizes and gives value. It does not have to prove itself, but it is sought, as an equivalent.

Of course, under the conditions of simple exchange of goods, goods can be exchanged at will - skirt, canvas, shoe paste, etc. can always take on the relative form of value or the equivalent form. However, as soon as the market becomes more than a random exchange place for surpluses beyond own requirements, and even the target of production, it is very important which commodity is on which side of the =.

In any case, from the simple form of value one can see that value is both in the production as well as in the distribution arises: An object that is not exchanged on the market is not a commodity and also has no value because the value only becomes manifest through the exchange becomes.

The one against the real socialist drivel about the “eternal law of value” on which all production is based: If that Market as a place of probation for the goods is abolished as such, so there is no value eitherthat would have to be tracked down through complicated price reforms.

(One thing is that two goods are mutually exclusive exchange at all, another, in what proportions. That it is exchanged at all means that it has value, but that does not say whether it has anything to do with the work invested.
But that may all come soon.)

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