[OPE-L:6460] Re: [OPE] What is prior? Objection to commodity fetishism

Paul Cockshott (wpc@faraday.org)
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 09:37:14 +0100

Alan Freeman wrote:

> Paul writes:
> > Because the total social product is a flow per unit time. If expressed
> > in money it must be measured over a time interval.
> Alan replies:
> But anything that exists as a flow, also exists as a stock.
> At any time, we can identify quite determinately and indeed, physically,
> everything that is being offered for sale. It's a perfectly definite thing,
> as is its monetary measure.

The problem is that the ratio of stock to flow varies widely betweendifferent
products. About a mile from here there is a large ship being
constructed by Kavaerner in Govan for Sea Launchers. The ship has been
under construction for over a year. Just down the road there is a bakery
selling scones which were baked last night.

If we were to follow your procedure and add up the stock of goods for
sale in the country we would be adding the ship( or its labour content)
to the scones (or their labour content). If we expressed this as a daily
we would overvalue the ships contribution. If we expressed it as a bi-yearly
product we would undervalue the scones contribution.

The only stock figure that is meaningful is the number of workers employed
at each enterprise, since only this has the right dimension.

We want to measure the social value product, whose dimension is value per
unit time v/t : say value per annum. Value itself has dimension
person hours = persons times hours,
pt, thus the social value product has dimension pt/t = p = persons, allowing
some scalar to adjust for the number of working hours per year.

In looking at value we are just looking, in another way, at the static division
labour in society. Value relations are the relations between people in
the division of labour. In commodity producing society these take on
the fetishised form of relations between things, but dimensional analysis
strips this illusion away.

It is an illusion, strictly speaking commodity fetishism, to think that one can

derive the value product by adding up a number of things rather than adding
up a number of people.

> I agree that we can also identify the flows into this product per unit
> time. And the flows out of it.
> Its size at any moment is the time-integral of the difference between these
> two flows, plus a constant of integration which is its stock at any
> definite starting point.
> In like manner, if we have a tub of water being filled by a tap, and
> emptied by a plughole, then there are flows of water in and out of the tub.
> The fact that the water is flowing does not negate the existence of a
> definite water level at every definite point in time.
> Alan