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

From: Allin Cottrell <>
Date: Tue May 05 2009 - 23:18:20 EDT

On Wed, 6 May 2009, Jurriaan Bendien wrote:

> I'm sympathetic to Dieterich's aim to improve the conditions of
> the Venezuelan people, but I don't see how abolishing the rule
> of the law of value can combine with an "equivalence economy" of
> the type described by Paul Cockshott, according to which one
> hour of work would buy goods or services worth one hour of work.

We're at sizes and sevens here, due to the notorious vagueness of
the term "law of value".

(1) If by "law of value" one means that any society that aims to
reproduce itself, and avoid gross waste of resources (this side of
Big Rock Candy Mountain/Cockaigne), will have to cost things (more
or less) according to the labour-time it takes to produce them,
then neither Dieterich nor Cockshott/Cottrell/Zachariah, nor
anyone with their head screwed on, is proposing its "abolition".

(2) If by "law of value" one means the dominance of the commodity
form and money, then of course all Marxists (well, most Marxists,
and certainly including Dieterich and Cockshott/Cottrell) are in
favour of its abolition -- though such abolition cannot be by
fiat, but rather by the construction of an alternative, planned

> An equivalence economy of this kind would actually mean a more
> rigorous, exact and conscious enforcement of the law of value
> than there was before.

In sense (1), yes.

> Incidentally Marx himself rejected a labour-token economy.

He assuredly did not. I'm not going to quote-monger, but just
read the Critique of the Gotha Programme. What he rejected was an
attempt to impose "prices = values" by fiat within the confines of
a capitalist economy (e.g. in the manner of Proudhon). He was
happy with Robert Owen's labour-tokens.

Allin Cottrell
ope mailing list
Received on Tue May 5 23:23:22 2009

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