[OPE-L:3071] Re: Simple Commodity Production

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 15:20:42 EDT

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On Sun, 7 May 2000, David Laibman wrote:

> Count me, along with Ajit, as a dissenter from the view that
> the category "simple commodity production" plays no role,
> and has no valid place, in Marxist economic theory...

Me too. On the "history of thought" matter, too, it's quite
plain that Marx did not think of commodities and value as
existing _only_ in capitalism (although, for sure, capitalism
represents the most developed form of these phenomena). Here's
Marx stating clearly a view that is (these days) often wrongly
presented as an aberration due to Engels:

"The exchange of commodities at their values, or approximately
at their values, thus requires a much lower stage than their
exchange at their prices of production, which requires a
definite stage of capitalist development....

"[I]t is quite appropriate to regard the values of commodities
as not only theoretically but also historically _prius_ to the
prices of production. This applies to conditions in which the
labourer owns his means of production, and this is the condition
of the land-owning farmer living off his own labour and the
craftsman, in the ancient as well as in the modern world. This
agrees also with the view we expressed previously, that the
evolution of products into commodities arises through exchange
between different communities, not between the members of the
same community....

"For prices at which commodities are exchanged to approximately
correspond to values, nothing more is necessary than 1) for the
exchange of the various commodities to cease being purely
accidental or only occasional; 2) so far as direct exchange of
commodities is concerned, for these commodities to be produced
in approximately sufficient quantities to meet mutual
requirements... ; 3) so far as selling is concerned, for no
natural or artificial monopoly to enable either of the
contracting sides to sell commodities above their value or to
compell them to undersell."

Marx, Capital, III (Moscow: Progress, 1971), pp. 177-8.


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