Re: [OPE-L] Question

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@WFU.EDU)
Date: Mon Apr 09 2007 - 23:38:17 EDT

On Mon, 9 Apr 2007, Howard Engelskirchen wrote:

> In the last analysis socially necessary depends
> on the distribution of labor duration to need.  Certainly the
> mechanisms of competition and of the confrontation of prices
> carry through such allocations, but how is the distinction
> between value and prices dissolved?  I don't follow the logic
> that leads to the equation of market price with amounts of
> socially necessary labor time.

Suppose a commodity is produced, and on the basis of the
conditions of production alone (average productivity and all that)
we could say it embodies H hours of socially necessary labour
time.  Now it turns out that market conditions are such that it
can only be sold at a price below cost.  What should we say?  I
took Jerry to be suggesting that we need to downgrade the "social
necessity" of the labour that went into the commodity (so that, if
you think it through, it really contains less than H hours).

That, I believe, is a mistake: it is warping the definition of
value to match market price (hence my "dissolving" comment).

This comment of mine may not be quite right in relation to Jerry's
thinking.  Perhaps he intends to make a strictly binary point: if
a commodity "can't be sold" it contains no socially necessary
labour (hence, its value is zero); otherwise it contains the full
H hours, as determined within production, regardless of the price
at which it sells.  But if that's the idea, I offered a critique
of it in my previous post this evening.


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