Re: [OPE] peanut butter value-form theory

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Tue Apr 07 2009 - 04:10:15 EDT

Cottrell   If you define ‘labor commanded’, Cottrell,as the amount of labor that could be purchased by selling a commodity, you can say that the labor commanded by dodgy crackers, the selling of which was impossible, is zero. But, have you noticed that if you follow this reasoning you miss the only connection with the ‘worth’ of a commodity (crackers)?   You have completely lost a ‘theory of value’, because you can’t acknowledge the consequences of wasting labor time in the production of a useless commodity, i.e. you can’t recognize that thanks to the rejection of dodgy crackers by consumers, the labor time crystallized before and ‘commanded’ by this commodity is not valuable at all. By thinking that ‘labor commanded’ is zero –in the sense of Smith– you just missed the only mechanism that would help you to rectifythe waste of labor. You have to return to Engels to have some hope of recovering a ‘theory of value as worth’.   Scientists such as Shockley, Noyce and Moore made their part, but the technological possibilities opened up by 20th century physics would not be properly explored without entrepreneurs. There's no mileage in having a practical technical means of producing an existing product more cheaply unless you have foreseen potential demand. The possibilities of Internet and the PC would be lost without entrepreneurswho foresaw potential demandtaking the risk of exploring the merchandisingof these technologies. Concerning the potential impact of a technology upon the well-being of people, the entrepreneurshiprole of Bill Gates and Paul Allen is essential.   Unless you stop to worshipthe technological side of production you won’t be able to overcome the ‘impossibility of dynamic efficiency’.   Regards,A. Agafonow ________________________________ De: Allin Cottrell <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: domingo, 5 de abril, 2009 5:01:26 Asunto: Re: [OPE] peanut butter value-form theory On Sat, 4 Apr 2009, Alejandro Agafonow wrote: > In order to let the 'labour commanded' by dodgy crackers be > adjusted Cottrell, you would have to recover someway the labor > time already crystallized in a useless commodity. This is > impossible unless you have a time machine. Absolutely not.  How are you defining 'labour commanded'? Evidently not as Adam Smith did (or as I did, following him). > The fact that the price of dodgy crackers is zero doesn't mean > that the labour they command is also zero. Yes, it does.  You can't command any labour with $0 in a capitalist economy. > You expended labor time in the production of these useless > crackers indeed. How can this labor just be zero? It's not zero,  But that doesn't matter when you're figuring the labour commanded. First-order planning rule for an economy without exploitation: if a product embodies X hours of labour but commands Y > X hours of labour then the work that went into it is of above-average effectiveness and production should be increased.  If it commands Z < X hours of labour then production of this item should be reduced. > Technological change is just the way the disruption of the cost > structure takes place. But this disruption is ultimately brought > about by changes in consumer preferences which trigger > entrepreneurs to experiment with new forms of production. What change in consumers' preferences caused which "entrepreneur" to invent the Internet (hint: it began as a US government defense network), or to invent the PC (hint: IBM) or the jet engine, or... Well, what you're saying here seems just to be an article of faith. > Computers became very much cheaper after the reduction of their > scarcity, thanks to entrepreneur who foresaw their potential > demand not yet realized. Thanks to scientist/entrepreneurs such as Shockley, Noyce and Moore.  But these people were driven in the first instance by the technological possibilities opened up by 20th century physics. The consumer demand followed, once they figured out how to make transistors cheaply (with a small total outlay of labour time). There's no mileage in "foreseeing potential demand" unless you have a practical technical means of producing an existing product more cheaply, or a new product at a labour-cost that might make it marketable.  Science fiction writers have "foreseen" all sorts of cool things that never made it -- not because people wouldn't like them, but because they were technically infeasible. > You and Cockshott only foresee preferences as playing the role > of determining the quantities of the various goods produced, but > you don't have satisfactory mechanisms to foster technological > change in response to the change of preferences. It's easy to adjust production in _response_ to changes in consumers' preferences.  What's not so easy is to figure out the technological possibilities created by scientific advance and to judge which of these possibilities, if they were exploited, might induce a (previously unsuspected) "preference" on the part of consumers. IBM famously thought, at one point, that only big businesses would have any use for computers.  But that did not represent a failure to _respond_ to consumers, who at the time knew nothing about computers and would not have known what to do with one if given it as a present.  If it was a failure, it was a failure to _imagine_ a future in which massive networking of computers (courtesy of DARPA, in the first instance) would make them everyday communication tools. Allin Cottrell  _______________________________________________ ope mailing list

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