- Jul 2007
So the superior position of Lenin/Stalin etc as dictators were in fact covered by Marx as the labour they put in was superior they believed to that of others. The same equality enjoyed by communist party member is also then sanctioned by Marx in the same way. So according to you Lenin/Stalin were following the Marxist plan?
No, labour is all equal under Marx's labour theory of value. There's no "superior" labour. Marx defines labour value on the basis of "abstract labour" - where the simple quantity of labour (not the type of labour) is the measure. An hour of Stalin's work is worth precisely the same as an hour of work from a plumber or garbage man. The metric is the same for everyone, regardless of what sort of labour they are doing - there is no kind of labour that is worth more than any other kind of labour. An hour of labour from a brain surgeon is worth just the same as an hour of labour from a receptionist (provided both are working to the average level for that particular job).
And how is the "average level", the "intensity" of labour measured? Marx said that it was measured by evaluating the average labour inputs of what was being produced. If it took, on average, 10 minutes to produce a hammer, then a hammer-maker would be measured against 6 hammers per hour. Measurements were by task, not by job title, so Stalin would most likely be measured against similar tasks performed by junior administrators - how many telephone calls he made in an hour, how many papers he signed, how many people he met with and so on.
The labour theory of value doesn't take into account the utility value (how useful it is) or the exchange value (the market price, what it's worth in trade) of labour or its products. Labour is the value, provided it is "socially necessary". Its utility or exchange value isn't important and doesn't modify the value. So, although a Soviet bureaucrat may have justified his higher pay and better accomodations by saying that, as a planner, his work has greater social utility or is in more demand than that of a plumber, Marx would not accept his pay to be higher than the plumber's.
Where the right of inequality comes in, is that some people can (or do) work more than others, and of course these people will be wealthier. Plus, of course, not all labour is as hard, some is more rewarding, and so on. So if you are greedy and want more things than your neighbours, it can be done (provided they are lazier than you are). What you can't do under Marx's labour economy is extract anything from anyone else's labour. There is no wealth produced by any means other than personal labour - there's no interest from credit, no rent, no dividends from ownership of capital, only personal labour.