[OPE] question re published letters Engels

From: howard engelskirchen <he31@verizon.net>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 10:50:57 EDT

In Economic Calculation and Forms of Property, Charles Bettelheim quotes a
paragraph from a letter of Engels to Kautsky of September 20, 1884, relevant
to recent discussions. But he mentions that in both the English volume,
Selected Correspondence, and the French, Lettres sur Le Capital, the passage
he quotes is omitted, though the letter itself is published. Does anyone
know anything about this? Is the complete letter available online? Here's
the passage:

"You make the same make the same mistake with *value*. [According to you -
C.B.] current value is that of commodity production, but, following the
abolition of commodity production, value would also be 'changed,' that is to
say, *value in itself* would continue to exist, and only its form would be
modified. But in fact, however, economic value is a category specific to
commodity production, and *disappears* with the latter, as it likewise did
not exist prior to commodity production. The relation of labour to the
product, before as after commodity production, is no longer expressed under
the *value*-form."

Bettelheim argues that before you can measure anything you have to have a
theoretical concept of what it is that is measured. If you appropriate
measurements in value terms, prices or tokens, this speaks to the
persistence of commodity categories. But measuring in terms of what Engels
calls elsewhere 'useful effects' requires working out a theoretical space
where you understand what is being measured. Bettelheim suggests there
hasn't been much of that sort of advance.

Notice also that we critique value as a measure because it reduces labor to
quantity only. For the transition to socialism we would want measurement
to reflect not only the way social relations were transformed, but also
labor as the unfolding of capacity, labor as life's prime need. How are
these dimensions measured?


howard engelskirchen

----- Original Message -----
From: "Allin Cottrell" <cottrell@wfu.edu>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <ope@lists.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Friday, May 08, 2009 2:43 PM
Subject: RE: [OPE] labor tokens and efficiency

> On Fri, 8 May 2009, GERALD LEVY wrote:
>> In other words, Bright Red Star will be put at a disadvantage if
>> they "waste" time on meetings and democratic decision-making.
> I'd say they're put at a disadvantage only if they in fact waste
> time (no scare quotes) on meetings etc. If this discussion time
> is well spent then presumably it will pay off: good ideas will
> come forward and be implemented, the workforce will have a greater
> sense of solidarity and common purpose so individuals are less
> likely to goof off or "just do the minimum", and so on.
> More generally, a socialist cuture will presumably develop a
> conception of what is "normal" in terms of discussion time and
> might even legislate this (a minimum, I mean).
> What is your theoretical point? I think you're just being
> contrarian.
> Allin.
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Received on Sat May 9 10:54:30 2009

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