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

From: David Laibman (dlaibman@SCIENCEANDSOCIETY.COM)
Date: Sat Aug 25 2007 - 17:50:42 EDT

Hey folks, let's not descend into personal stuff on-list.  Paul, this
was clearly not intentional; someone on the list also referred to "Prof.
Bendien," also inaccurately.  May I suggest these little items be
handled off-list?
(Prof. -- in the USA sense! -- David Laibman)
(At CUNY, even non-teaching librarians are called "Professor"  It is
title inflation, like all the Doctors in Vonnegut's *Slaughterhouse Five*.)

Paul Cockshott wrote:
> Jurrian, please top calling me Prof Cockshott, it is inappropriate and inaccurate
> Paul Cockshott
> -----Original Message-----
> From: OPE-L on behalf of Jurriaan Bendien
> Sent: Sat 8/25/2007 3:11 PM
> Subject: [OPE-L] A startling quotation from Engels
> For the record, I agree completely with Prof. Cockshott that:
> 1 - abstract social labour is a feature of all modes of production in which
> there is some form of social cooperation.
> 2 - Marx distinguishes sharply between value and its historical form of
> expression, exchange value.
> 3 - The social cost of production under both capitalism and socialism is
> 'value', not just because it represents a quantity of social labour, but
> because the meaning of "social cost" cannot even be specified without
> reference to "value".
> As regards the above three propositions,
> a) There is very strong textual evidence that Marx and Engels believed this
> themselves, in their published and unpublished writings,
> b) There is also very strong historical-anthropological evidence for it.
> c) There is very strong logical evidence for these distinctions, since
> Marxian value theory becomes incoherent if they are rejected.
> However,
> 1) I deny being a Marxist, or an accredited Professor.
> 2) I think Marx regarded labour-value and abstract labour as
> "transhistorically evolving" categories, i.e. the social meaning of the
> fact, that a product had value which represented a quantity of social
> labour, was subject to both continuities and discontinuities through
> history.
> 3) I reject the Marxist distinctions between historical and transhistorical
> categories, because they are not based on any historical and
> scientific-empirical research, it is just metaphysical generalities.
> 4) If abstract labour is regarded by Marxists, like commercial economists do
> (unit labour costs etc.), only as an effect of market-exchange (Rubin's
> third dimension of abstract labour), far too much importance is given to
> markets as the cause for thinking abstractly about human labour, and
> treating it in an abstract way.
> 5) In the typical Marxist way, through falsifying Marx, much more power is
> given to markets to accomplish all kinds of things than are really due to
> markets themselves, which could not exist at all without a large amount of
> non-market cooperation. Scientifically and practically speaking, "the
> market" does not create everything that its Marxist supporters claim it
> does.
> Jurriaan

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