I have a question to raise, before we all get stuck in to chapters 2, 3, 4 and 6 (why not 5?) about one or two paragraphs in chapter 1.
On page 151/152 Marx is talking about Aristotle and the way he first analysed the value form, yet had 'no concept of value'. Marx goes on to claim that Aristotle was unable to identify human labour and its relationship with commodity value because:
"Greek society was founded on the labour of slaves, hence had as its natural basis the inequality of men and of their labour powers."
He then goes on to suggest that:
"The secret of the expression of value, namely the equality and equivalence of all kinds of labour...could not be deciphered until the concept of human equality had already acquired the permanence of a fixed popular opinion." (all in 1st para of 152)
Is he suggesting that he lives in a society whereby this is the popular opinion? He later mentions that it was 'historical limitation' which prevented Aristotle from understanding the relation of equality. Is it just me, or is this an alarmingly sweeping statement?
He repeats himself over and over and over again about the linen and the coat but completely brushes over something which I think is extremely important. I know we are supposed to consider the idea of average labour power, but I feel this is a different point entirely? To suggest that he is privileged enough to live in an age where people are considered as equals seems absurd? There is certainly a lack of equality or we wouldn't have the economic system we have today. Surely it thrives on the inequality? On cheap labour in China etc?
I don't understand how he can make the argument that Aristotle didn't figure it out before him because of historical limitation. I can deal with him presenting the concept that people/labourers have to be considered equal before you can make the connection between labour and value, but why state that he only deduced this before Aristotle did because he lives in a society where people are considered equal? I just don't think they are, or have ever been.
Perhaps I have misunderstood, but I'd be really interested to know if this equality of people thing is approached later, or has been commented on elsewhere?