[OPE-L:3291] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: starting points

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 00:57:09 EDT

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>Ah, you're thinking of the influence of market demand upon the
>social necessity of labour time as a binary matter: 0 or 1,
>rather than a sliding quantitative scale. Well, I think that
>has problems, but it's less damaging to the labour theory of
>value than the notion that demand affects the /degree/ to which
>labour should be considered socially necessary. (The binary
>version strikes me as problematic because almost all would-be
>commodities can be sold at /some/ price or other (>0), so it
>seems that whether or not a product "becomes a value" may depend
>on the seller's reservation price, which could be quite
>contingent, and unrelated to the conditions of production, or
>the general conditions of market demand.)

Well of course what bothers me is the idea that to any use value whether
it has been produced for exchange or not we can ascribe an average
production time, technically speaking, that then becomes a measure of its
value or the socially necessary labor time needed to produce it.

To be rather crude (and I truly apologize that my imagination is not more
fertile) this would mean it is sensible to speak of the value of a
morning's shit, in terms of average social labor necessary to produce it,
controlling for the intensity of labor.

 The concept of value here not only applies to precapitalist commodities
but then to anything to which it makes sense to ascribe an average
production time. We could then say shit is a value without a price just as
there are pricey things without value. Something seems to have gone very
wrong with the "physicalist" neo Ricardian concept of value...

The more serious problem of course deals with the attempt before and
outside the market to aggregate the different concrete labor times which go
into the production by even the modal or average producer of a complex
commodity (say a car) as so much abstract labor time.

As for reservation price, let's not forget that there is that crucial
supply side condition under capitalism: it is socially necessary, i.e. not
contigent as you suggest, that a capital make tendentially an average rate
of profit if he is not to withdraw from a line of production, even if his
contribution to the level of output will be socially required as
accumulation picks up again.

So price falls below the value as socially necessary in terms of production
price which then jeopardizes future production levels in terms of what is
socially required for future accumulation. From overproduction to
underproduction is just the kind of chaos in the realm of market prices
that Marx seems to think necessarily accompanied the price form. Of course
I think Marx really wasn't so concerned about the chaos of market prices
(which is not to say that they are not interesting) as the formation and
movement of the average rate of profit in the form of which the law of
value governs bourgeois society.

But maybe I am missing your, Paul C's and Ajit's point, so I thank you for
the further attempt at communication, and hope that you are not offended by
scatological example.

Yours, Rakesh

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