[OPE-L:3972] Re: Critiquing exploitation

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 01:44:44 -0800 (PST)

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>Neoclassicals would say that in a general equilibrium model, price equals
>payments to factor shares. (The rate of profit is thus zero) They would say
>that it is arbitrary to point out that other factors are paid in addition
>to labour. They could easily cite the claims (which can be translated from
>neo-ricardian models in which they were formulated) made by Wolff (a
>philosopher) but also Brody (an economist) that steel, wheat, etc are just
>as exploited as labour. That is, Morishima's fundamental theorm can be
>extended to show that the rate of profit is positive iff the corn, steel,
>etc rate of "exploitation" is positive. (The translation would be that
>other factors can be paid a positive amount if and only if the price of the
>good exceeds the price paid for the selected factor (labour, steel, corn,

Steel or wheat content are much poorer at predicting exchange value than
are marxian labour values however. They also give rise to a paradoxical
problem when one uses them to measure value. What is the value of steel

If one is consistent and says the value of all commodities is defined
by embodied steel content, then one finds that the value of 1 unit of
steel is much less than 1 unit of steel. One then has the labour/labour power
problem reproduced at the level of steel. There appears to be a difference
between steel and 'steel power', since if one treated steel consistently
with all other commodities,then one obtains a set of equations which is
consistent only if all commodities have a value zero.

Whilst there is a clear social reason for distinguishing labour power - that it
is not a commodity produced under capitalist relations of production, any
similar attempt with steel is nonsensical.
Paul Cockshott