[OPE-L:2394] Re: Carpe diem!: LTV

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 16:31:33 EST

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At 05:11 12/02/00 +0100, you wrote:
>In his 2346 Jerry wrote (replying to Nicky 2342)
>>As I recall, in the previous discussion we came to the conclusion that
>>Marx never said that he had a "labor theory of value" -- but neither did
>>Ricardo or Smith. I.e. "LTV", just like "value theory of labor", are
>>designations given to a theory not by Marx (or Ricardo, etc.) but by
>>historians of economic thought -- both Marxist and non-Marxist.

Geert replied (OPE-L 2353):
>I would like to know who came up with the term LTV. Was that revealed in
>the 1996 OPE-L discussions? I would expect early Austrians, but perhaps
>also early left-Ricardians.

Nicky replies:
I wonder if the term was first ascribed to Marx (and left-Ricardians) by
Wagner? (see "Notes on Adolph Wagner", Texts on Method, 1975). Responding
to Wagner's criticisms of Capital 1, Marx wrote:
"According to Herr Wagner, Marx's theory of value is "*the cornerstone of
his socialist system*" (p.45). Since I have never promulgated a
"*socialist system*", this is a fantasy of Wagner, Shaffle, and all such "
(pp.182-3). Marx goes on to refute Wagner's interpretation of his [Marx's]
value theory as one of price determination by labour time, and declares
emphatically that 'neither "value" nor "exchange-value" are my subjects,
but *the commodity*' (p.183; **Marx's italics).

Has anyone read Wagner's original criticism?

> Thus, the
>>question isn't whether Marx said that he advanced a LTV (he didn't).
>>Rather, the question is how *we* can best interpret the meaning of Marx's
>>conception of value. Thus, when you say "labor theory of value" what do
>>you and others mean by that expression? And when you and others use the
>>expression "value theory of labor" (following Elson), what is meant by
>>that term that is different from LTV?
>>I agree that part of this question concerns how we view Marx's perspective
>>on value vis-a-vis classical political economy. Equally, though, it
>>concerns how Marx's perspective on value was influenced not only by CPE
>>but by Hegelianism, his task of critique, and his revolutionary
>>2) In [OPE-L:2343] Ernesto wrote the first of what promises to be many
>>exciting contributions to our list:
>>> I would like to discuss the following:
>>> "The employment contract as the fundamental institution of capitalism". I
>>> am working on this subject since some years. The basic idea is that the
>>> basic institutional condition for capitalist exploitation in production is
>>> not the private property of the means of production but a contract whereby
>>> the workers take an obbligation to obbey the capitalist in the labour
>>> I consider this thesis a deepening and a correction of Marx's theory of
>>> capitalism.
>>> If somebody likes this proposal, I could send a chapter of my book (in
>>> porogress) in which I focus on the employment contract.
>>Well, I like the proposal. By all means, send us the chapter (but please
>>send it not as an attachment but in text-readable, unencoded form).
>>On the substance of what you say above, it seems to me that private
>>ownership (and non-ownership) of the means of production and the contract
>>agreed to by workers in the market for labour-power (the "labor market")
>>are *necessarily* inter-related under capitalism. E.g. the compulsion to
>>work for capital in exchange for a wage is necessarily linked to one
>>aspect of "free labor" -- freedom from ownership of the means of
>>production and therefore the "freedom" to be employed by capital and be
>>exploited. This is reinforced by another "freedom" that makes itself
>>known to workers both within the market for labour-power and the labour
>>process -- the "freedom" to join the industrial reserve army and all that
>>entails. This aspect of the "contract", i.e. that it can be voided at the
>>discretion of capital, is essential to maintaining discipline in the
>>labour process and compelling workers to work to a certain "standard" [of
>>productivity] within the labour process.
>>Where do we disagree?
>>In solidarity, Jerry

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