From: gerald_a_levy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Mar 03 2003 - 13:15:42 EST
----- Original Message ----- From: "Ian Wright" <email@example.com> Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Monday, March 03, 2003 12:55 PM Subject: Re: 'Simulating the Law of Value' by Ian Wright Dear Jerry, Thank you for taking an interest in my paper. > how can the abstraction of a simple commodity economy > tell us anything of significance about the _dynamics_ of a _capitalist_ > economy? The short answer is that simple models can provide theoretical foundations for more complex models. I think this is sufficient justification for studying the simple commodity economy (SCE), particularly as the model I outline has lots of interesting (dynamic) properties, such as (i) a spontaneous division of labour, (ii) the natural emergence of a monetary expression of labour-time, (iii) a very clear role of deviations of price from value in allocating social labour-time, and (iv) a statistical equilibrium in which labour values and market prices coincide. All this occurs despite the fact that economic actors are free to individually evaluate the monetary value of commodities as they see fit (within certain bounds). This simple model helps me understand more complex models. The longer answer is sketched in the methodology section of my paper (which I tried to keep short). Briefly, I think that the collection of properties normally associated with the SCE constitute an abstract specification of a dynamic system that is active, albeit modified and not necessarily manifest, in all commodity economies, including capitalist economies. I believe the dialectical concept of "abstract totality" may be similar to this point of view. The SCE is potentially significant for understanding a capitalist economy because in some sense the SCE is present within captialism. For example, gross properties of the SCE such as: (i) a community of workers, (ii) production of different reproducible commodities, (iii) consumption of commodities, (iv) the use of money in market exchange, (v) competition, and (vi) the ability of labour to specialise in different kinds of work, are also gross properties of capitalism. I would therefore expect that a study of these properties alone will inform a study of other systems that also have these properties. All this is separate from any historical considerations. For example, capital and wage-labour may be historically necessary for commodity production to dominate economic relations, but commodity production itself, absent capital, may be dynamically sufficient for the law of value to emerge. I think this is an important point to consider. It is the latter view that I lean towards. However, it is possible that the "law of value" I discuss in the context of the SCE is a different "law of value" to that which obtains under conditions of capital and wage-labour. I think this unlikely, but possible. However, I believe I've shown that the law of value, understood as the tendency for prices to correspond to their labour values, can be shown to manifest absent wage-labour and capital under the assumptions of the model. I hope this answers your question. -Ian.
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