Re: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jun 02 2006 - 16:59:17 EDT

I have read Ians paper and discussed it with him.
It is certainly interesting but I am not yet
convinced by it.

It seems to play on a double entendre with respect
to socially necessary labour time - one that Gerry
echoes below. Ian treats capitalist consumption as
being 'socially necessary' under conditions of capitalist
production and hence argues that the labour embodied
in capitalist consumption goods should count towards
value in a similar way to constant capital.

By this double entendre he apparently resolves the
contradiction between value and prices of production.

However, I am not convinced that this use of 'socially
necessary' corresponds at all to that which Marx meant
and as such I dont see that it resolves the transformation
problem. He has redefined value using a different meaning
of socially necessary labour, and as such has avoided 
the original contradiction. The question however as it
first arose is whether there is a contradiction between
the Ricardo/Marx account of labour value determination
and the equalisation of profit rates.

If one redefines value you can get round it, but I suspect
that his new theory is just a relabeling of price of production
theory - ie, it homomorphic to it.

However, I think the real insights of his theory probably
apply to the problems of socialist planning.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of glevy@PRATT.EDU
Sent: Fri 6/2/2006 1:38 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption
> I would take the view that consumption by capitalists
> or workers is destructive of value. The value of what
> they consume does not get back into the process of
> value production.

Hi Phil,

(I'll answer without reference to Sraffa.)

The consumption of  the value of commodities by
workers does go back into the process of value production
because it forms a necessary moment in the reproduction
of labour-power and, hence, value reproduction.  You
see it as "destructive of value" but this is, imo, one-sided:
it is true that consumption  is destructive of value to the
extent that the value and use-value of commodities are
exhausted/destroyed, but that same consumption
_reproduces_ value to the extend that it allows for the
reproduction of the commodity labour-power and hence
forms a pre-condition  for continued value production.

This contrasts, in a sense, to capitalist consumption.  On
the one hand,  the individual consumption of surplus-value
by capitalists diminishes the rate of the productive consumption
of surplus-value and hence the accumulation of  capital. But, on
the other hand, capitalist consumption is required for the
reproduction of the capitalist _class_ and in that sense forms
a necessary requirement for _capitalist_ production.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Jun 30 2006 - 00:00:03 EDT