Re: [OPE] labour tokens under socialism

From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Wed Oct 22 2008 - 21:42:25 EDT

OPE-L May 1996: [OPE-L:2147] Re: Grundrisse question[Was "Heinz Dieterich's General Program for Transition Towards XXX
Century Socialism in Latin America"]

> Perhaps we should pay attention to Marx's comments on labour tokens
> in the Grundrisse!

Hi Paul B:

Yes, we could do that. Actually, we have - a little. The following post
by Allin was before your time on OPE-L. Note, especially, the last
paragraph. Have you read the 1993 _RPE_ article that he refers to?

In solidarity, Jerry

[OPE-L:2147] Re: Grundrisse question
Allin Cottrell (
Fri, 10 May 1996 12:29:16 -0700

On Fri, 10 May 1996, Alfredo Saad Filho agreed with Michael P,
and went on:

> Marx also argues that problems would appear even in a static context,
> and that a 'labour money' is not adequate at all for a commodity-
> producing society (or a capitalist society for that matter). This is
> because it does not allow the equivalence between concrete and
> abstract labour to be realized.

Agreed. In a commodity-producing economy (including capitalism)
the allocation of labour is not pre-planned, and the processes
by which concrete labour is 'validated' as social labour necessarily
involve divergence of prices from labour-content.

> I would be very interested in hearing what people think of the
> relationship between the proposed 'labour money' arrangement and the
> role of money in socialism. It would be easy to show that the
> proponents of labour money are for a planned economy (which they
> freely admit), and that this economy would resemble the Soviet.

Paul C and I have argued for labour-tokens in the context of a
planned economy. See our book, Towards a New Socialism. We also
distinguish between Marx's critique of labour-money a la Proudhon
or Rodbertus, and Marx's advocacy of labour-tokens under
socialism -- i.e. we try to identify the scope and limits of
Marx's critique -- in Review of Political Economy 5/1, 1993.
One of the problems with the Soviet system was, of course, that
they _didn't_ have a labour-token system, or pricing according
to labour-content.

Allin Cottrell
Department of Economics
Wake Forest University

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