Re: [OPE] Understanding value (reply to Michael Heinrich)

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Mon May 04 2009 - 21:13:38 EDT

Hi Dave,

I agree that evaluating the distribution of labors in production does not
necessarily imply a market mechanism -- but the point is that if the
underlying social relations within which you work do imply and involve such
mechanisms, then what appears to be conscious planning and allocation of
social labor will wind up being subverted by commodity and value categories
and what appears to be conscious planning will in fact track monetary
calculations and even cloak them ideologically. That is a lesson we can
draw from experience. You have to know what generates recourse to market
and consciously work to transform that. Commodity categories do
necessarily imply social relations of value and those imply commodity
fetishism, which conceals. You can't transform those categories overnight
but you do need to have a step by step plan to overcome the operation of the
law of value. In Naomi Klein's movie The Take about worker occupations in
Argentina a worker at a worker run textile factory says matter of factly, I
don't know what the big deal is -- you have to keep track of accounts and
pay bills and pay salaries . . . you add and subtract. Yes. Much is
demystified. But the factory remains autonomous, subject to market
relations, and its calculations are financial. Mastering the conscious and
democratic allocation of social labor across all entities that produce is
not at all easy. Why not use money prices? But then we're back to social
relations that conceal.


howard engelskirchen
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 5:48 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Understanding value (reply to Michael Heinrich)

> howard engelskirchen wrote:
>> You must develop forms of economic and social calculation appropriate to
>> the socialist project.
> Indeed, but the "value-form" argument dispenses one way to do so that was
> explicitly considered by historical figures such as Karl Marx and Robert
> Owen.
>> Otherwise the law of value continues to operate behind the back of
>> producers and we become aware of the law of gravity when the house falls
>> around our ears.
> I think this is a mistaken conclusion: it is one thing whether economic
> mechanisms operate in way that conceal social relations, it is quite
> another thing to explicitly compute the labour required to produce goods
> and services for the purpose of conscious planning and allocation of
> social labour.
> Evaluating labour-values does not necessarily imply a market mechanism.
> (And this is precisely the blind spot of the value-form argument.)
> //Dave Z
> _______________________________________________
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Received on Mon May 4 21:18:38 2009

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