[OPE-L:3280] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: starting points

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Sun May 21 2000 - 23:38:04 EDT

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On Sun, 21 May 2000, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> Only [on] the basis of those staples of bourgeois ideology--
> individualism and fetishism, i.e., treatment of value as a
> property of a thing-- could it even be imagined that labor
> time could prove itself to be *socially* necessary outside
> of successful sale. How can something prove by itself its
> own socially necessity?

The point is that there's an ambiguity in Marx's notion of
"socially necessary" labour time. Does this mean, the time
required to /produce/ a given item, given the prevailing
technology and labour practices, or does it have reference to
the the "socially required" quantity of the item (so that the
labour time devoted to producing a quantity of the item that
exceeds social demand is somehow "not necessary")?
Individualism and fetishism are quite irrelevant to assessing
this issue. Both of the competing definitions depend on social
factors; the question is how broadly the set of relevant social
factors should be drawn.

I agree with (what I take to be) Paul and Ajit's view, namely
that it is a bad theoretical choice to incorporate demand into
the very definition of socially necessary labour time. This
undermines and confuses the idea that the price of a given
commodity can fall below its value if that commodity is produced
in excess (an idea which Marx seems to express in various
places). (The undermining consists in the alternative notion
that the /value/ of a commodity itself falls when it is produced
in excess, since the labour time devoted to its production fails
to be "socially necessary". One can't have it both ways.)


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