[OPE-L:3438] Re: objectivity of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 10:35:32 EDT

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Re Paul C's 3435

>I do not think that Marx consistently held the view that the value of
>a commodity was determined by considerations of effective demand.

Of course I have said no such thing. Whether a commodity is a value is
determined by effective demand, which does not imply that the magnitude of
value can be explained by a subjective theory of value. I am not arguing
that we measure the quantity of utility by demand to determine value. This
approach cannot answer why demand gives a thousnad to one for an object
with much labor to one with little. From and a S&D perspective, it is
because the object that requires less labor is more abundant. But that is
why it is more abundant! As Engels long ago noted, utility theories of
value are ass backward. Things that take a minute to produce are commoner
than those take years. It's not that my trumpet gives me 500x more pleasure
than a silk hanky that explains their value magnitude, though neither are
values in lieu of effective demand.

>If I recall correctly he decisively rejects this notion in the
>notes on Wagner, I no longer have a copy of this so I am
>hard placed to back this up.

Years ago you very kindly send a copy of this to me from the journal
Theoretical Practice. I shall re-read it. Thank you again.

>If you accept it, you might as well throw away the whole structure
>of the theory of value and become a folllower of Hayek, since the
>problematic of the labour theory of value is inconsistent with allowing
>effective demand to have any role in determining value as opposed
>to current market price.

You fail to note the specific role which I give it.

>> Indeed it is because a commodity only becomes a
>>value upon successful sale that producers are forced to conform to
>>technical norms. Without the disciplining of exchange it is not possible to
>>understand why the producer is confronted with the social necessity of
>>conforming to technical norms (John Weeks has made this argument).
>Hayek could not have put it better. Thence we have the eternity of the
>market and of capitalist production relations.

I do not follow this formulation. The 'market' induces changes in technical
norms by which the mode of surplus value extraction is led to its

>If you meant money say money. Clearly what Taylor was measuring was not
>money it was labour time.

Taylor was only measuring different concrete labors. Concrete labor however
only passes over (pupates) into materialised universal human labor once it
assumes the money form. This does not mean its price is its value.
You also wrote:

"My prefered method of doing this is to look at the labour embodied in the
total quantity of exports and equate this, subject to scaling for the balance
of trade with the price of the imports. One then uses this to give a labour
to money equivalence for the imports row in the i/o tables for each industry.

For now, given the differential productivities of labour in different countries
and the absence of free movement between countries, one should compute
labour values in terms of the labours of different countries. I hour of French
labour should not be assumed to be equivalent to 1 hour of US labour."

Don't we run into problems with imports because of their non competing
nature? That is, one cannot assume that existing labor coefficients in the
broader two or three digit categories apply to these narrowly defined
categories of imports.
Even if this production were not outsourced (broadly defined) and shifted
back to the more productive North, one would still have to take labor
coefficients in developing countries and apply traditional estimates of
elasticities of substitution among factors to estimate what the
coefficients would be in developing countries.

If Adrian Wood is correct, this would give us a *much* greater estimation
of the value that is being produced abroad than traditional estimates, even
if we recognize that "one should compute labour values in terms of the
labours of different countries." It seems to me that both the valorization
base of productive labor and the rate of exploitation would be revealed to
be significantly higher than quantitative Marxists (Fred, Shaikh and Tonak,
you/Allin and Michaelson) are now claiming.

Yours, Rakesh

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