Re: [Bulk] Re: [OPE] intrinsic value

From: Philip Dunn <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 03:11:34 EDT

On Wed, 2009-03-25 at 22:34 -0400, Allin Cottrell wrote:
> Philip Dunn wrote:
> > The _distinction_ [between labour-content and price] is not
> > dissolved by the non-deviation of prices from values. A price is
> > a sum of money. The intrinsic value of that sum of money can
> > equal the intrinsic value of the commodity it buys while the
> > distinction stands.
> And Paul Cockshott responded with the argument that the "intrinsic
> value" of modern money, taking the form of computer records at the
> banks, is negligible.
> To which Philip in turn responded with:
> > I have never suggested that the intrinsic value of money should
> > be understood as embodied labour. In fact, I regard the value of
> > money as its intrinsic power to command labour-time. ... The
> > value of a unit of money is then aggregate labour-time over
> > aggregate money value added (clock hours per dollar, say).
> The word "intrinsic" seems an odd one to use in this context.
> Surely the value of any commodity is not intrinsic to that
> commodity, but rather resides in the relationship that the
> commodity bears to the system of production of the society that
> produced it (the "technology", in a broad sense).

Value is the answer to the question: how much commodity? It is the only
complete answer, I would suggest. How much there is of something is
intrinsic to it.

> One might perhaps stretch "intrinsic" to refer to the labour time
> embodied in a commodity (taking production technology as a given
> background condition), but talking of the "intrinsic power" of
> money to command labour seems a stretch too far. As Paul said,
> money _embodies_ negligible labour, and its power to _command_
> labour is the resultant effect of an array of macroeconomic forces
> -- primarily, but not exclusively, the relationship between (a)
> the emission of money by the state and (b) the level of tax
> liabilities imposed by the state. Broadly speaking, the greater
> the ratio of (a) to (b), the less labour-time a unit of money will
> end up commanding.
> Nothing "intrinsic" there: the power of modern money (which does
> not itself embody any significant amount of labour) to command
> labour (either live, or embodied in commodities) is a tail that is
> wagged by the macroeconomic dog.

My concern is not with what causally influences the value of money. What
I am doing is best described as strictly ex-post value accounting. The
question is: how much money? Measuring it in dollars, for example, is
inadequate since the value of a dollar changes over time. Understanding
the value of money as its intrinsic power to command labour-time yields
an adequate answer to the how much question.

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Received on Thu Mar 26 03:14:57 2009

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