Re: 'simple commodity production'

From: Allin Cottrell (
Date: Tue Sep 21 2004 - 21:55:51 EDT

On Tue, 21 Sep 2004, ajit sinha wrote:

>> This seems to me an egregious confusion of the
>> thought object with the
>> real object.  Ricardo articulated a theory of the
>> effects of market
>> competition: he did not invent such competition.
> ____________________
> Allin, the idea that an idea does not come into being
> before the material conditions for it is ready is an
> aspect of historical materialism; and Marx uses it to
> suggest that why Aristotle could not come up with a
> theory of value in a slave society.

There may be something in Marx's observation on Aristotle.  But so far
as Smith vs Ricardo is concerned, it seems to me you are proposing a
very radical point of view, that would need a lot of supporting
argument.  That is, the "standard" Marxian/Ricardian view is that
Smith's "adding up of incomes" theory of value is incoherent, and
Ricardo's is a definite scientific advance -- an advance in
understanding what was going on at the time, and what had been going
on for some lengthy history.  Do you really want to argue that Smith's
theory was correct for economies prior to the 19th century?

>> I would require a lot of historical evidence before
>> I concluded that
>> people prior to the 19th century were perfectly
>> happy with "customary"
>> returns and did not seek out opportunities for
>> betterment, at least
>> over the long periods that Paul was talking about.
> ______________
> I don't remember the context of Paul's post. I'm only
> reacting to what I had said...

The context of Paul's post was an interesting and, so far as I know,
original observation about pre-capitalist societies.

That is, supposing that calculation of economic advantage may have
been less sharp in such societies, and supposing that mobility of
labour may have been less (neither of which propositions can be taken
for granted as abolute historical fact), nonetheless the relatively
slow pace of technological change prior to capitalism means that
the gravitation of price towards labour value would have much longer
periods to work itself out, compared with modern society where
technological "disturbances" to this process are endemic.

Don't be so quick to dismiss interesting ideas!


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