Re: [OPE-L] Ajit's Paper on Sraffa and Late Wittgenstein

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon May 29 2006 - 12:26:58 EDT

I should add that I don't see how the Sraffian theory
allows us to understand how the real practical problems
of the organization and allocation of social labor are more or
less solved in a commodity capitalist society. You
can't get around practical problems by calling them metaphysical.

To get prices the Sraffian theory has to make the fantastic assumptions
of what the Unoists call a fodder wage and of what the temporalists
call simultaneism. There is moreover
no money and no change in technical conditions.
I think why the Sraffian theory works so well in science fiction
scenarios such a  a automation, I Robot, barter economy is
that it is not a theory of the real world capitalist economy in the
first place.

Which make quite odd the
use of Wittgenstein's essentially practical theory of langauge
to defend it.

For Marx value is the language game we must play to organize our
social labor relations once they are mediated through commodities. Value
disappears once social labor relations are not so organized. Marx would
not have said value exists in your I Robot economy.


>>Ian, you are taking a wrong road. Stop and rethink.
>>First of all, I'll advise that a good way of
>>understanding the whole business of value theory is
>>not to first join a team and try to play for that
>>team. What I mean is that there is no need to start of
>>my saying, "I'm going to defend or prove that Marx was
>>right". I started of that way, and that led me to
>>waste a lot of time. I think that the most
>>non-materialist aspect of Marx's theory or philosophy
>>is the notion of labor-values. The concept is
>>completely metaphysical! Don't you think that it is
>>possible for us to imagine an economy where all
>>productive labor is replaced by robots. Still this
>>economy will have division of labor, capitalists,
>>prices of commodities, profits.
>Don't you mean that this economy would have a division of robots?
>I don't see how this thought experiment allows us to understand
>how given the  necessity of the transformation of nature by
>organized social labor the allocation of social labor and its
>internal relations are determined when
>social labor relations are necessarily mediated by commodities
>as a result of production being undertaken for the sale of commodities
>at profit rather than the meeting of social needs.
>How are these practical problems actually solved?
>For the purposes of theory, we will need an  answer
>to that question until the utopia (or dystopia?) of full
>automation arrives.
>>And you can also
>>imagine wage labor, who are relegated to doing only
>>unproductive labor. What will happen to the concept of
>>labor-values in this economy?
>Again the question is how in the here and now social
>labor is actually organized by means of the commodities
>through which social labor relations are necessarily mediated
>in that social laborers relate to each other only through those commodities
>which they have produced.
>>  Again, think of another
>>example, in agriculture a wage laborer who is paid
>>subsistence wage and a horse work to produce surplus
>>corn. Why is that it is the wage laborers labor
>>produces value and surplus value and not horses? Think
>>of an answer in materialist terms and not metaphysical
>I don't see what is metaphysical about the question
>(the question Marx underlined in the famous letter
>to Kugelmann) about how
>the allocation of social and its internal relations are determined when
>social labor relations are necessarily mediated by commodities as
>a result of production being undertaken for the sale of commodities
>at profit rather than meeting of the social needs.
>Please explain what is metaphysical here.
>>Cheers, ajit sinha
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