Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

From: BHANDARI, RAKESH (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 22:29:20 EDT


Dear Diego,
Like many others, Austrians and value form Marxists, I am ambivalent about the attempt to deduce
abstract labor as the only likely common substance shared by commodities equated in and through
exchange.

I think Marx infers that reproducible commodites must be imputed with  properties by which they
can alert   individuated individuals whose relations are exclusively mediated by those self same
commodities to the need for the reallocation of social labor time demanded by social reproduction.
 The need is not met after all in a generalized commodity society by the transmission of a
traditional division of labour or through conscious dictatorship.

The social need for the reallocation of social labor time can only be met through the attribution
to commodities of a fantastic property which appears as if it were natural or perhaps primary or
even secondary.

Thus all the positivistic attempts by the Joan Robinsons and Ian Steedman's to do away with value
as metaphysics can do nothing to dissipate the necessary illusion that commodities possess value.
We cannot but be caught up in this distortion as long as the relations between individuated
individuals are mediated by things.

We will continue to talk about price and value and the disparity between the two simply because
it's the only way that we have to re-organize continuously our social labor which is what has to
be done before we use land or animals or make machines.

It marks an epoch in human history that we have gotten beneath what we mean by the value of a
thing to see that it is abstract social labor time.

But this is obfuscated in part by the fact that capitalist class has to power and incentive to
distort what we mean by value. While society must signal to itself the social labor time that has
to be allocated to different kinds of activity and it does so by making quantity and price
adjustments in the face of price-value disparities, the capitalist class distorts the value of
commodities by means of the power at its disposal through the ownership of the means of
production. Yet the capitalist class is not free to distort without limits value. Those limits are
explored in Marx's theory of production price.

The great contradiction between value and price of production is only a contradiction between
social requirements and class power. Value is not a model of precapitalist class society and
production price a model of capitalist commodity society. Value and price of production are
expressions of the contradiction between capitalist society as a human society and capitalist
society as an exploitative society. It is a contradiction within one and the same society.

Yours, Rakesh




On Tue, 20 Sep 2005 18:58:19 +0200
  Diego Guerrero <diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES> wrote:
> Is not R in Sraffa's theory the maximun rate of profit? If so, it is a ratio or quotient between
>two "things" that must have some (physical) dimension. For instance, in Marxian theory, the rates
>of profit and surplus value are also quotients. They have no dimension but are the ratios of
>quantities of labour or money (measured in hours or euros). So, the rate of profit is an
>(maximum) eigenvalue as well, but this pure number is the quotient of two units that are in fact
>the same "thing". But again: which is the physical unit of the standard commodity? It must have
>one and I cannot conceive of nothing different from labour.
>
> Diego
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Paul Cockshott" <wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
> To: <OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 4:30 PM
> Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics
>
>
>> In Sraffas theory the material surplus R is a dimensionless number
>> being in effect the greatest eigen value of the technology matrix.
>> It is measured as
>> units of the standard commodity/ units of the standard commodity
>> and hence is a dimensionless scalar
>>
>> Diego Guerrero wrote:
>>> Paul C. wrote:
>>>
>>> I donít see why Phil is opposed to the notion of a material
>>>
>>> surplus?
>>>
>>>
>>> I am opposed too inasmuch as this material surplus is conceived as
>>> something different from (labour) time surplus. Time, and so labour
>>> time, is a material fact; time is also one of the most important
>>> variables in physics. Labour time can be applied to, and conceived
>>> of, every commodity, including services. No other physical variable can
>>> be predicated of all commodities. People defending a notion of "material
>>> surplus" in production (different from time) should tell us in terms of
>>> what magnitude could we compute it: weigh, volume, surface...? It should
>>> be the same physical property and it should be present in any commodity,
>>> including services.
>>>
>>> Moreover, can ayone say which is the surplus obtained when for instance
>>> transforming a Ton. of ore gold in a jewel of 10 grams of pure gold?
>>>
>>> Diego
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     ----- Original Message -----
>>>     *From:* Paul Cockshott <mailto:wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>
>>>     *To:* OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU <mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU>
>>>     *Sent:* Tuesday, September 20, 2005 11:58 AM
>>>     *Subject:* Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics
>>>
>>>     I would be keen to defend the notion of a basic sector.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     In reply to Ian.
>>>
>>>     Sraffa says that in principle the wage should be split
>>>
>>>     into a portion necessary for the reproduction of labour
>>>
>>>     power, and a portion that constitutes part of the surplus
>>>
>>>     that can be struggled over. I think this is certainly correct.
>>>
>>>     If one took that view of it, the basic sector would include
>>>
>>>     those products whose production was necessary to the
>>>
>>>     reproduction of the working population.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     I am unconvinced that things would be materially changed
>>>
>>>     by expressing things as continuous flows rather than
>>>
>>>     as annual rounds of production. One would still get
>>>
>>>     R as a variable expressing now the maximal instantaneous
>>>
>>>     rate of expansion of the economy as a time derivative
>>>
>>>     rather than expressing the expansion as an annual
>>>
>>>     rate.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     I donít see why Phil is opposed to the notion of a material
>>>
>>>     surplus?
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Paul Cockshott
>> Dept Computing Science
>> University of Glasgow
>>
>>
>>
>> 0141 330 3125


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Sep 22 2005 - 00:00:02 EDT