[OPE-L:3439] Re: Re: objectivity of value

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 05:01:15 EDT

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At 10:35 05/06/00 -0400, you wrote:
>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 did not mean to impute to you a subjective theory of value.
What I am arguing is that marx was inconsistent in his attitute
as to whether realised price had anything to do with the determination
of value. The issue arrises when a product is overproduced or
underproduced and the price rises above its value, In all but a couple of
places in Capital that is
exactly how he interprets it: the value is unchanged but the price
is higher than its value.

In a couple of places he vacillates and implies that if when supply and
demand balance 1000 tons of weat at a value of 5 hours per ton are
sold, then if 2000 tons of wheat are produced then these will sell for
gold worth 2.5hrs a ton. In this case he is allowing conditions of effective
demand to determine the magnitude of value. This argument
is not only inconsistent with his general theory, it is implausible, since
it involves assuming an elasticity of demand of unity, though that is
an anachronistic objection.

> >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.

The point is that if you allow price to determine value, then the
theory of value becomes redundant - all you have is observed
prices. If you say that a commodities value is not determined until
it is sold, then it is the selling price that determines the value not
the labour required to produce 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

Hayeks point is that it is only the discipline of the market that can determine
what things are worth and impose technical progress. If you take the line
that value only comes into existence on a sale, then you are rejecting
Engels argument that socialism can directly compute labour contents and
regulate production accordingly. This is the core of the Hayekian argument
against the possibility of socialist planning.

> >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.

Well if materialised universal human labour is just a longhand phrase for money
then what you are saying is obviously true. The issue at stake was wether
Scientific management could determine the amount of average labour neccessary
for a task. I had pointed out that in the analysis of value production marx
upon the concept of average human labour. My assertion is that this is

>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.
>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.

You misunderstand the method. Assume trade balance and that we are looking
at the US input output table.

We want to assign a value in US labour hours to the imports row.

What you do is take the valuation of the exports in terms of labour hours, and
use this as the price/value coefficeint to convert the import row into
US labour hours.

$1000 of imports have a US labour value of the number of hours of labour
embodied in each $1000 of US exports.

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