[OPE-L:2719] Re: More on abstract labour

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 15:33:33 -0700 (PDT)

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At 14:33 24/07/96 -0700, Duncan K Foley wrote:
>On Wed, 24 Jul 1996, Paul Cockshott wrote:
>(among other things)
>> Paul:
>> I would say that the social welfare function is uncomputable
>> since there exists no well defined procedure for computing it.
>I'm not sure whether you mean there's no political procedure for arriving
>at a social welfare function, or it is impossible to compute in the sense
>of evaluating it either on real data, or conjectural data as part of a
>mathematical programming problem.

I mean there is no clear definition of how you would compute it, and no
procedure in sight by which the data could be collected and processed.

>> > Duncan:
>> >Somehow this point of view seems to me to have been subjected to the
>> >withering criticism of history already, but maybe I'm not seeing the whole
>> >picture.
>> Paul:
>> Which point of view, that put forward by Allin or that put forward
>> by those in the USSR who talked of maximising the social welfare
>> function?
>I meant the attempt to allocate resources using embodied labor
>coefficients. Marx has some interesting criticisms of "labor money
>schemes" in the Grundrisse, too.

Labour money and the use of labour coefficients in economic calculation
are not the same thing.

>> If the former please explain why you think it has been subjected
>> to historical criticism.
>I suppose I was taking the experience of the formally "socialist"
>countries of eastern Europe as a kind of historical trial, but, again, I
>may not understand the ways in which Allin's proposal diverges from these
>historical experiments.

I think you have misunderstood Allin here, one of his criticisms of the
process of economic calculation in Eastern Europe was that it made no serious
attempt to use embodied labour coefficients at one level, and at another level
that it used an excessive level of disaggregation in preparing plans.

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)