[OPE-L:2110] necessity of equivalent exchange

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Wed, 8 May 1996 02:26:04 -0700

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I agree with Gil that one can not logically deduce from the
exchange of equivalents that there must be a conserved substance
in the exchange relation.

One can show that the only metric on the space of commodity bundles
that is consistent with

1. the physical and legal seperability of commodities

2. ensuring that all paths effected by exchange, which leave a point
on one of the axes of commodity space, and return to that axis are

is one that can be modeled by a mapping function from commodity bundles
onto a one dimensional sub-space. It is this property of being topologically
equivalent to 1 space, that accounts for the apparent conserved substance.

However, given this property of commodity space as a system of representation,
the question arises what real-empirical variable will capture the
attractor of the space, not in all, but in the statistically dominant
majority of cases.

Given that mappings onto 1 space are characteristic of systems governed
by conservation laws, what does this formal property of exchange select
out in practice to be the thing that is conserved?

The classical political ecnomists asserted that it was labour, Ricardo
went so far as to quantify this as being 93onserved. The current
literature seems to indicate that he was more or less spot on, with that

Gil is justified in pointing out the inconsistencies in Marx's attempt
to logically deduce the value substance from the form of value.
But one can arrive at a correct conclusion using falty logic.
If the conclusion is so evidently correct, it is easy to overlook
the faults in the logic by which one arrived at it.
Paul Cockshott