[OPE-L:1720] Re: Re: Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?

Subject: [OPE-L:1720] Re: Re: Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?
From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Nov 23 1999 - 07:13:27 EST

At 00:36 23/11/99 +0800, you wrote:
>Hello Paul and Jerry,
>Jerry writes:
> >Re Paul C's [OPE-L:1710]:
> >
> >> On the other hand we will never understand capitalism unless we approach
> >> it from the standpoint of the future communism.
> >
> >I think it is idealist to assert that the way we can understand today is
> >by comparing it to some ideal standard which has never existed in
> >actuality.
>The point here is the purpose of theory. If we are interested in socialism
>and interested in the potential for class struggle, then we must be
>interested in *Capitalism*. A theory that has great explanatory value for
>capitalism, is a good guide to class struggle; it might however have little
>or no explanatory value for other social systems.

I think that in terms of real politics today this misreads the situation.
An abstract critique of capitalism is of no use whatsoever in the current
world situation marked by the collapse of hithertoo existing socialism.
The dominating feature of current ideology is that there is no alternative
to capitalism, and if that is the case, then there is nothing to be done
but to accomodate to its needs as in the Blairite 3rd way.

One can only rescue the left from its irrelevance by a new political
economy that is a political economy of socialism, one which concretely
explains what the socialist alternative to the economic forms currently
existing would be. Unless there is an alternative there is no point
struggling. You have to be able to look at current economic arrangements
and say that with different property relations the same people, the same
basic infrastructure etc could be redirected. This is only possible if one
has certain common concepts which can be applied to both capitalism
and socialism in order to think through the process of transition.

I would argue that the laws regulating the distribution of social labour
between different activities provide a language in which we can
talk about these problems.

> For example, the key
>problem facing socialism may be the problem of how to allocate labour so
>that people do not work unneccessarily, and so that there are no queues for
>goods (just to be provocative, let me suggest that socialism requires an
>efficiency principle - a theory that explains how supply will be brought
>into an equilibrium relation with demand).

I agree fully with this, and a large part of my writings on the theory of
value are directed to exactly this question. See the web site

> This is not Marx's problem.

Yes but he died over a hundred years ago. It is our problem.

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