Re: [OPE-L] questions on the interpretation of labour values

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Feb 21 2007 - 08:56:41 EST

> I think that in proposing to put a valuation onto clean air or any other
> aspect of nature you could be drifting into what Foley is calling Adam's
> fallacy: the idea that by applying a price to things and optimizing on
> that one ends up in the best of all possible worlds.

Hi Paul C:

I am not "proposing" to put a price on nature.  I am saying that
aspects of nature _are_ valued irrespective of what Smith, Marx,
or I say about it.  This _reality_ was something that Marx was
acutely aware of:  in his explanation of the distinction between value
and wealth, in his recognition that objects can have an exchange-value
and market price but not constitute value; in his writings on
original accumulation, etc.

> Attempts to apply valuations to nature are a projection of capitalist
> social relations onto a domain on which they do not apply.

Point is it happens. Because it happens it raises issues concerning the
sum of prices in relation to the sum of values and the sum of value in
relation to the sum of wealth. Other issues abound as well: e.g. the
premature destruction of value and wealth by the complex feedbacks
in nature which have been affected in ways that scientists are not
yet fully aware of by economic activity under capitalism.

> Rather than
> using prices to regulate relations with nature it is probably better to
> use absolute quantitative controls. For instance a socialist economy
> should fix absolute
> Plan targets for the use of carbon fuels which tend to zero over a short
> timescale and then use constraint based programming techniques to derive
> i/o matrices that are compatible with this.

That could work within the context of a socialist economy.  But,
my questions (at least, initially) weren't normative, they were positive.

I'll give the rest of your post more thought.  But, at first blush, what
you wrote about adjustment time and complex feedbacks in nature,
make sense to me.

In solidarity, Jerry

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