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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 08:16:30 EDT

C Germer
There can only be a social average labour time if there is exchange of
commodities, which is based on the equalization of the SNLTs required to
produce the commodities exchanged. Without exchange, why and how would
producers be forced to reduce their labor time to the social average? 

Paul C
Consider an economy like that of pre-Spanish Peru. Social labour existed
in this society but not commodity exchange. The different villages
growing potatoes etc, would in practice have had very similar average
labour inputs to produce the crop even though the crop was not sold,
because people have a natural desire to minimise their efforts. If they
see a technique in the neighbouring village that allows food to be got
with less labour they will adopt it.  This law of the economisation of
labour existed well before commodity exchange, were this not the case
how do you account for the spread of agricultural techniques during the
neo-lithic revolution?

C Germer

This is why, imo, Marx says that value is the social form of the
of labour in the commodity producing economy ("so also is it impossible
abolish money itself as long as *exchange value (=meaning value) remains
the social form of products* " - Grundrisse). 

Paul C
It looks to me as if this passage from Marx supports Jurrian rather than
you. You are forced to reinterpret it to fit your paradigm. Marx
mentions exchange value, you correct him saying he really should mean
value here. Jurrians point is that Marx distinguishes between exchange
value and value itself. Thus when he wrote exchange value he meant
exchange value, not value.

C Germer
In the first quotation
above, although it may be interpreted as meaning that exchange-value is
the expression of an ever existing essence of the products of labour -
value - the fact is that value, i.e., average social labour time, only
comes into existence because of the generalization of exchange. 

Paul C
Averages do not depend on exchange. There would have been an average
weight of cacao pod harvested in Mexico even if these pods were not
exchanged, there would also have been an average time to pick them even
if the pods were not exchanged.


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