Marxian Value Theory and the Labor — Labor Power Distinction

Science and Society 60 (4):427 - 451 (1996)
Abstract
In Volume I of Capital, Marx invokes the distinction between labor power and labor to explain how surplus value might arise from the circuit of capital, given that all commodities exchange at their respective labor values. Contrary to Marx's representation, however, the stipulation of price-value equivalence is neither necessary nor adequate for a coherent account of capitalist exploitation. The significance of the labor-labor power distinction is instead best understood in historically contingent strategic terms that are essentially independent of Marx's value theory. Historical-strategic analysis suggests that the distinction has implications extending beyond the labor extraction problem typically emphasized in the modern literature on class struggle in production.
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