Monday, June 28, 2021

Socially Necessary Labour Time: outline of a review

I have excerpted all the passages in Capital and Theories of Surplus Value in which Marx explicitly discusses the concept of socially necessary labour time by name and will go through them in manageable chunks. My first pass through the excerpts suggests to me that 13 segments would be a reasonable division of the material. Subsequent segments will superficially examine a few of the many Marxists and Marxologists who have discussed the concept in some detail. My examination will be superficial because those scholars did not address the relationship between Marx's concept and the "plain levelling principle" employed by C. W. Dilke in The Source and Remedy.

I will start with the Grundrisse specifically because Marx did not mention socially necessary labour time in those notebooks (unless the translator played a trick on us and called it something else). There is, however a key passage in the Grundrisse dealing with disposable time, which is dialectically related to socially necessary labour time. Next, I will discuss Theories of Surplus Value in five segments: chapter 4, chapter 7 and addenda, chapters 8, 9, 16 and 17, chapter 20, and chapter 21.

Following that, I will discuss the notorious manuscript "chapter six" that wasn't included in volume I of Capital. The published chapters of Capital will be divided into six segments: the afterward to the second edition and chapters 1 and 3, chapter 7, and chapters 13, 14 and 21 from volume I; Engels's preface to volume II of Capital; chapters 5 and 10, and chapters 38 and 49 from volume III.

Presumably, there will be some sort of summing up before I continue on to examine the views of the experts. Posting of the episodes may be somewhat intermittent as I have an unexpectedly busy schedule this summer. Right now there is a heat wave in B.C. so I won't be doing much posting until things cool off a bit.

Index to all posts on socially necessary labour time.

I will take the opportunity to plug my publication, "The Ambivalence of Disposable Time" in each of these episodes. I am linking to the published journal article. If anyone needs free access to the author's preprint, let me know in comments and I will leave a link there. 

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