[OPE] Valuation of knowledge

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Nov 07 2009 - 01:29:15 EST

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your comment. From my perspective, it is not true at all that it
is "only very limited ways that a capitalist economy can define the value of
knowledge". In fact it does value knowledge, and it socially values all
knowledge, explicitly or implicitly, irrespective of whether this is
quantified in money or not. It is just that (1) the valuations are
variegated, may conflict and are often eclectic, depending on whatever
use-value or exchange-value the knowledge currently happens to have, given
the supply and demand for it, (2) what knowledge is worth often lacks any
stable valuation, since depending on how it is applied, and on the
substitutability of other knowledge, its worth can instantly fall to zero,
or suddenly become so indispensable that very high prices can be charged by
its owners.

Just because the commercial market price of a piece of knowledge cannot
currently be specified with exactitude, does not mean that it isn't valued
explicitly or implicitly. To argue that the value of knowledge cannot be
defined would be to fall into the trap of bourgeois economics which
recognizes the value of something only if it can be priced. As I explained
on OPE-L, my view is that although value relations may be mediated by prices
which can quantify them more precisely, value relations exist independently
of prices, basically because they refer to the real economy (the allocation)
of work-time, i.e. to the societal relationship between different labour
efforts. Whereas the contractual price of labour-power may be to an extent
individually established through negotiation, the value of labour-power is
socially established, creating the possibility that the value and price of
labor-power may diverge very considerably, depending on social status,
bargaining power, the porosity (susceptibility or vulnerability) to
exploitation, and state regulation.

One of the problems in this sense with orthodox Marxism is, that Marx never
completed his planned book on the specific forms of wage-labour and the
labour market - his primary aim in Das Kapital was to explain the mode of
production and distribution of capital, the argument being that in the
course of the growth of capital, all obstacles to appropriating labour in a
form contingently suitable to the requirements of capital accumulation are
overthrown. This theoretical omission is extremely serious however, since
the labour market, through which valuations of labour-power are asserted,
and which mediates the development of the division of labour, happens to be
of crucial importance to the very functioning of the capitalist mode of
production, and the specific forms it will take. It is also of critical
importance for the position, status and character of social classes. In this
sense, Marx's theoretical effort is very much unfinished.


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Received on Sat Nov 7 01:31:17 2009

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