[OPE-L] A startling quotation from Engels

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 07:08:54 EDT


Perfect competition does not exist, it is only a theoretical supposition -
economic competition by nature also involves blocking competitors.

There are different ways of thinking of perfect competition. Perfect
competition would be like playing football in strict accordance with the
rules, on a level playing field, in which the outcome of the game depends
purely on how well the players play.

In perfect competition, the outcome for producers would depend only on
productivity, the ability to buy at least cost, and the ability to sell
maximum volume. Perfect competition need not necessarily mean perfect market
knowledge, but that all competitors have the same access to knowledge and
access to markets, and have an equal opportunity to gain access to
resources. If there are hypothetically no obstacles to market competition
with respect to production and circulation in this sense, then all trade
would be determined only by the commercial value (prices) of goods traded,
and individual choices.

You write: "For Engels only when market reaches the point where commodities
are fully useful, then commodities have its full labour value." What is your
source for this interpretation? The concept of socially necessary labourtime
needs to refer only to the effective acquisition of the products of that
labour time by the consumer.

I agree that I did not consider consumer preferences in the examples. But
typically consumers choose, with imperfect knowledge, from what they
perceive is available. Marx rejected the doctrine of consumer sovereignity
in capitalism, stating in footnote 5 in Das Kapital Vol. 1 "In bourgeois
societies the economic fictio juris prevails, that every one, as a buyer,
possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of commodities".
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S1 Presumably in
a wellfunctioning socialist economy there would be more consumer
sovereignity, not less, because consumer knowledge is no longer blocked or
obscured as much by property rights, the motive to misrepresent supply and
demand would tend to disappear.

Money cannot be a measure of prices, if it is not an objective (or
objectified) measure, surely?

I think Marx's theory of value has both objective and subjective aspects,
among other things because he seeks to explain why the phenomena of value
necessarily appear to human subjects in the way that they do, and why they
respond to these phenomena in a systematic or characteristic pattern.

It is difficult to know how one could measure the magnitude of utility,
other than indirectly, via a proxy of some sort. What we can verify is what
the magnitudes of normal or basic human needs are.


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