Re: [OPE-L] A startling quotation from Engels.

From: Michael Williams (michael.williams.j@GOOGLEMAIL.COM)
Date: Thu Aug 09 2007 - 10:48:00 EDT

nothing much wrong with this signed : a value-form theorist. see me &
reuten 19891

On 09/08/07, Alejandro Agafonow <> wrote:
> Dear Friends:
> I would like your advice concerning a startling –for a non-Marxist socialist
> like me– quotation from Frederick Engels, The Poverty of Philosophy, Preface
> to the First German Edition.
> []
> He seems to reject what has come to be the standard account of Marxism,
> including Engels himself.
> Alejandro Agafonow
> «[…] continual deviations of the prices of commodities from their values are
> the necessary condition in and through which the value of the commodities as
> such can come into existence. Only through the fluctuations of competition,
> and consequently of commodity prices, does the law of value of commodity
> production assert itself and the determination of the value of the commodity
> by the socially necessary labour time become a reality. […] To desire, in a
> society of producers who exchange their commodities, to establish the
> determination of value by labour time, by forbidding competition to
> establish this determination of value through pressure on prices in the only
> way it can be established, is therefore merely to prove that, at least in
> this sphere, one has adopted the usual utopian disdain of economic laws. […]
> competition, by bringing into operation the law of value of commodity
> production in a society of producers who exchange their commodities,
>  precisely thereby brings about the only organisation and arrangement of
> social production which is possible in the circumstances. Only through the
> undervaluation or overvaluation of products is it forcibly brought home to
> the individual commodity producers what society requires or does not require
> and in what amounts. But it is precisely this sole regulator that the utopia
> advocated by Rodbertus among others wishes to abolish. And if we then ask
> what guarantee we have that necessary quantity and not more of each product
> will be produced, that we shall not go hungry in regard to corn and meat
> while we are choked in beet sugar and drowned in potato spirit, that we
> shall not lack trousers to cover our nakedness while trouser buttons flood
> us by the million —Rodbertus triumphantly shows us his splendid calculation,
> according to which the correct certificate has been handed out for every
> superfluous pound of sugar, for every unsold barrel of spirit, for
>  every unusable trouser button, a calculation which "works out" exactly, and
> according to which "all claims will be satisfied and the liquidation
> correctly brought about".»
> «If he had investigated by what means and how labour creates value and
> therefore also determines and measures it, he would have arrived at socially
> necessary labour, necessary for the individual product, both in relation to
> other products of the same kind and also in relation to society's total
> demand. He would thereby have been confronted with the question as to how
> the adjustment of the production of separate commodity producers to the
> total social demand takes place, and his whole utopia would thereby have
> been made impossible. This time he preferred in fact to "make an
> abstraction", namely of precisely that which mattered.»
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
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Dr Michael Williams, PhD, MSc, BA
Economics &Strategy
Harrow Business School
University of Westminster
Watford Road
tel : +20 7911 5000 ext 4563
fax: +20 7911 5931

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