[OPE-L] Honesty

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue Oct 31 2006 - 08:49:10 EST

Well yes, I would say the commercial aim is to minimise costs and maximise
sales and profits. Few people would trade unless they gained something from
it, but some can obviously gain much more from trade than others. I wrote a
short wiki on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unequal_exchange

Marx assumed in his exposition initially that M-C and C'-M' are both equal
exchanges, i.e. exchanges of equivalent values, and he shows how capital can
grow even if equal exchange is assumed. Everybody tries to buy low, sell
high, but, under the condition that everybody else tries to do the same
thing, and thus regulating prices or product values emerge as social norms,
so that we can calculate that x amount of commodity p equals y amount of
commodity q. Some authors seem to suggest that supply-demand equilibrium is
*defined* by equal exchange. However I don't think that's correct.

The idea of "fair trade" or a just price as being the exchange of
equivalents is quite ancient. I suppose if value is subjective (i.e. no
objective valuation criterion is possible) then the system can be justified
by saying that everybody can "trade up" and get even in an open market, that
is its liberating potential. The conceptual or measurement difficulty is to
define what equal exchange would consist in, how we would know an exchange
was "equal" (if we cannot reliably define the quantities of labour-time
involved in the exchanged items). The nearest we usually get to it is via a
comparison of various trading norms, expressed in a common currency.

Markets are not completely amoral though - they assume that transactional
and contractual obligations are fulfilled, and at the most basic level that
requires promise-keeping and some behavioural consistency/predictability.
Incidental commodity trade does not require the rule of law, but any more
sophisticated, complex and regular market trade is usually impossible
without enforced legal rules and enforced property rights. The law thus
defines the moral limits.

Yet commodity trade can occur with a very wide variety of moral
superstructures. Consequently, when Pashukanis tries to deduce the legal
system from the relations of commodity trade, this is not very credible. No
doubt there is some relationship between the two, but typically the growth
of commodity trade adopts and modifies legal principles which already
existed beforehand. Thus the moral superstructure that emerges is a "mix" of
historically inherited norms and new norms necessitated by the growth of
commerce. For example, some Western legal principles derive from Roman law
or feudal law.


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