[OPE-L:4720] Re: value vs potential value

Michael William (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:39:37 -0700 (PDT)

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Michael P. wrote:
> Let us say that 5 units of abstract labor go into the commodity, but
> people are only willing to pay 4. That perspective leads to a
> subjective interpretation of value following the idea about social
> validation at the time of sale.

Marx 1887: 109: "The effect [of excess supply] is the same as if each
individual [producer] had expended more labour-time on his particular
product than is is socially necessary". Whilst such statements about the
effects of demand on value are indeed rare in Marx, there are many passages
that insist that we pay attention to the form of value - Money.
> >From the labor theory of value perspective, some producers might waste
> labor by producing stuff for which nobody is willing to pay the
> equivalent of its value. These outliers are trivial. They happen but
> the mistakes help to guide producers to keep values in line with what
> the commodities can get in the validation process.

The reference to outliers and triviality suggests an equilibrium
interpretation of the adjustment processes you (rightly) invoke. It also
neglects the difference between social and natural processes. The law of
gravity bites those who would flout it pretty directly, but the 'law' of
value (or even the 'law' of demand ...) are reflexive - constituting as
well as explaining social reality. What is more the social transmission
mechanisms are irreducibly intentional: in this context, the
pre-commensurating guesstimates of capitalist decision-makers. The upshot
is that it is unclear what outliers are outliers from, except some kind of
social average, of which they are also constitutive. Reasons to be
sceptical about naturalistic methodologies, perhaps ?

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

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