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1. Labour Time as a Transhistorical Economic Law

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Chapter Summary

Neither labour nor labour time can be the starting point of the analysis of the capitalist mode of production. Labour time, its organisation and allocation in the various productive activities, appears in Marx as the 'economic law' in the most diverse of social formations. Every economic organisation is, therefore, an organisation of time. In the fourth part of the first chapter of Capital, Marx notes that the patriarchal family allocates its labour time with the aim of producing its means of subsistence in convenient proportions and adapts this allocation to the natural conditions that vary with the changing of the seasons, and does so according to hierarchical relations based on differences in age, sex, and so on. If the relation between labour time and exchange value or capital is similar to that between 'nature and the steam engine', then it is obvious one cannot abandon exchange value to common sense.

Keywords: Capital; exchange value; labour time; transhistorical economic law

10.1163/9789004256262_004
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