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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Aug 21 2007 - 17:48:26 EDT

 Paul B

In a communist society the usefulness of labour, its employment will
depend directly on the needs of the masses. Its employment will not
depend on that particular use value that labour power presents to the
capitalist, the production of surplus value. The market mechanism would
not exist. Value as a social category will be superceded. The relative
usefulness of labour will be recognised directly for its beneficial
results, not the production of profit. Surplus labour time will be
expressed not uniformly, but in its diversity of real output, all
appreciated for its own sake, its contribution to the development of
humanity beyond its 'pre-historical' stage.






Paul C


2 points here


1.       You say that the market mechanism would not exist. With respect
to means of production I would agree with you. I am doubtful that this
would apply to consumer goods. Marx envisaged people purchasing from
society consumer goods up to the value of the labour that they had
performed ( after tax to support social provision).

Whilst this is not a market mechanism in quite the same sense as a
capitalist market, it is a means by which the population can express its
desires about the compostion of output. If the plan has 'got it wrong'
with respect to the ratios in which people want different consumer
goods, then shortages or surpluses will occur. One then either has to
accept queueing for goods in short supply, and other goods being wasted,
or it may be an idea to mark up the 'labour commanded' by goods in short
supply. The divergence between labour used to produce the goods and the
labour vouchers people are willing to pay can then be used to guide plan
targets - to shift the direction of the 'Kantorovich Ray'.

2.       You say that value as a social category will be superceded,
well that would only be the case if human labour ceased to be a limiting
resource on production, which in turn would only be true if fully
anthropomorphic robots were available. So long as labour is a limiting
resource, any society has to husband it. The difference, according to
Engels, is that this will now be explicit with accounting done
explicitly in hours of social labour rather than in the monetary
expression of social labour as is now the case.

        ----- Original Message ----- 

        From: Paul Cockshott <mailto:wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK>  


        Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 1:03 PM

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


        Paul B 


        I am aware that you might say that because exchange-value does
not arise, does not mean that the use values have no latent/hidden
value. But that this value is no longer commonly measureable. In this
case 'value' has no function, and the law of value no place. The wide
range of concrete human labour will be appreciated for itself,
variously, but no longer in the way that allows self interest to direct
social life. 


         Paul C

        Why is value no longer measurable under these circumstances?

        Surely it is measurable but directly in time, rather than
indirectly in money.

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