Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

From: Ian Wright (iwright@GMAIL.COM)
Date: Mon Apr 11 2005 - 16:37:20 EDT

>  The issue of who produces value is at the one level definitional.
>  Marx defines value as abstract social human labour time. One could
> alternatively
>  define it in some way to include the labour of robots.

We as theorists may be able to define value how we like, but the
question I am interested in is what money objectively
measures/controls, irrespective of what we may think.  A thermostat
objectively controls the temperature of a room and has internal
representations that both represent the ambient temperature and
represent the absence of an ambient temperature (the desired
temperature setting). We cannot arbitrarily say that the position of a
bi-metallic strip in a thermostat represents, say, the number of
people in the room. Capitalism is also a kind of control system,
implemented in the actions of people, that has its own representation,
that is value, with its own semantics. So the issue of who or what
produces surplus-value cannot be definitional: there are right or
wrong, true or false answers to the question, depending on what the
capitalist system in reality does. Marx defines value as abstract
social labour-time, but as far as I understand it he tries to give
theoretical reasons why value necessarily must be that, and nothing
else. He didn't just say it was a useful working definition, which
we'll be happy with if it gives decent predictions.


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