Re: 'simple commodity production'

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Wed Sep 22 2004 - 09:02:57 EDT

--- Allin Cottrell <cottrell@WFU.EDU> wrote:

> 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?
Now, what was going on prior to the 19th century and
where is a question of economic history and don't know
much about it. On Smith I do think that people have
got him wrong--that does not mean that he was right. I
intend to write something on Smith, so i won't say
much on him right now except that on my reading, Smith
does not consider profit as surplus. Only rent is
surplus in his scheme. profit is a necessary cost of
production and this cost is conventionally determined.
He is very close to Physiocrats and preclassicals on
many accounts. I know, what I'm proposing will be
> >> 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.
But all this assumes that economic rationality
dominates human behavior in all societies. This is a
highly questionable assumption. Secondly, in
precapitalist societies the owners of goods are not
necessarily the workers who produced them--labor-time
as the cost of production may not be relevant to them
in their calculation of exchange. I think it will be
very hard to find a precapitalist society dominated by
something like a scp mode of production, and so mixing
the theoretical problem with the scp model with the
real historical systems may create a lot of muddle.
Cheers, ajit sinha
> Don't be so quick to dismiss interesting ideas!
> Allin.

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