[OPE-L:7489] Re: Re: Fwd: Jurriaan Bendien on law of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Aug 02 2002 - 21:15:24 EDT

re 7486

Dear Paul B,
In response to your and Jurriaan's comments, I shall make  only a few 
brief comments.

1. Weeks does indicate how the law of value could have come to 
regulate exchange. He charts out an evolution from a law of 
subsistence to a partial law of value (based on the monetization of 
the means of production only) to a full law of value (based on the 
additional monetization of the means of subsistence as a result of 
the commodification of labor power). I think Jurriaan is wrong to 
intimate that Weeks has the law of value drop out of thin air. OPE-L 
member Murray E.G. Smith has a similar criticism of Weeks if I 
remember correctly, and I think I do not follow Murray here. It would 
be great to hear from him, though.

2. I don't agree that the law of value would have regulated exchange 
between the deer and beaver hunter in the Smithean parable or among 
petty commodity producers. I shall not give my reasons for this, 
which would include some combination of Weeks' as well as 
Heilbroner's. I can't find the short collection of Heilbroner's 
essays in which his comments on the theory of value appear. Sorry no 

3. I accept Weeks' critique of Stalin's views on the law of value, 
and found myself sympathetic to Moishe Postone's critique of what he 
calls the Dobb-Sweezy-Meek interpretation of the law of value.

For me,  Marx's theory is independent of and in contradiction to 
Bolshevik interpretations.

Yours, Rakesh

>To Jurriaan Bendien  and Rakesh,
>just to my tuppence worth in....... I would go further than Jurriaan 
>and have argued similar privately  with eg Fred.
>Clearly a full social system of simple commodity producers did not 
>exist,  nevertheless within various sorts of  previous natural 
>economies, exchanges, often extensive, took place over which tough 
>bargaining took place between the direct producers, corresponding to 
>the estimated local socially necessary labour time contained in 
>them. This valuation was relative,  itself changing with social and 
>natural conditions. Engels is quite right to refer to the drawn out 
>negotiations typical in such circumstances.
>The idea that the social value of  a product is a reflection of the 
>usually required expenditure of labour and not another arbitrary 
>rule is simple enough. All marx was doing was to show how this was 
>true in  a mature capitalist society, ie a class society which had 
>of course developed precisely because a systematic process of 
>accumulation had been made possible. ie by one class fighting to 
>entirely appropriate every thing  bar the immediate life of the 
>other class. This last process is an historical issue. The 15th 
>century and later 'enclosure' process simply accelerated the 
>existence of  free labour which was already developing in 13th 
>century England.  One cannot separate the social categories Marx 
>identified from their own development. Marxism is not a static 
>'formalism'. This the remaining wilderness continues to be 
>increasingly subject to capitalist regulation, peasants continued to 
>be converted into one or other of the two main classes, 
>commodification continues to extend itself through experimentation 
>every day...to an extent that still seems even absurd - (thus the 
>regret with which financial advisors have noted that the 'frosby 
>flop.'   was not patented! )
>This process will continue until it is stopped, or brings so many of 
>us towards hell that enough say no to stop it. Marx showed how this 
>would happen as a necessary result  of the particular organisation 
>(by capital ) of the 'law of value', a law that works itself out by 
>finally limiting, choking, that sort of 'organisation'.
>As far as Juriaan's latter remark on the Soviet type society, what 
>about reflecting on Stalin's ''Law of Value under Socialism''? Or is 
>this even more touchy a topic than the evasiveness with which Lenin 
>is commonly treated  ?
>paul bl.

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