Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Sep 23 2005 - 19:14:29 EDT

At 9:17 PM -0400 9/22/05, Allin Cottrell wrote:
>On Thu, 22 Sep 2005, Ian Wright wrote:
>>The "self-reproducing non-basics" are a subset of the non-basics
>>(all of which have basics as input either directly or indirectly)
>>that happen to also have themselves as input.
>>"Self-reproducing" in this context does not mean that the "beans"
>>can be produced without other commodities.
>Would, say, race horses count as an example of self-reproducing
>non-basics?  And is the problem that (say) it might be the case that
>the reproduction rate of race horses implies a rate of profit in
>excess of what can be achieved in the basic sector, so that one
>can't have a uniform rate of profit without shenanigans?
>(Sorry, I'm haven't studied Sraffa that closely, so I'm feeling my
>way here.)
>Allin Cottrell

If one reads not just the first several paragraphs of Capital but
simply the entire first chapter, it is clear that Marx actually
derives the value property  of commodities from the need for
commodities by which people are alone related to serve as carriers of
the relations of social labour. Since no natural laws can be done
away with, commodities can alone do the job that the inter
generational transmission of a traditional division of labour or
conscious organization of social labour would otherwise do. The
connection between value and social labour is simply obvious.

Moreover, social labour has to be continuously re-allocated for
social reproduction to remain possible in the face of constant
changes in technique and product innovation driving concomitant
change in consumer demand.

That reallocation of social labour and the maintainence of the
relations of social labour on which social reproduction depends
results from economic actors responding to price-value divergences.
This is why bourgeois actors speak of such and respond to such. Not
because things by nature have value.

I simply cannot understand what a static formalism in which money
price does not have a proper place can have any relation to dynamic
capitalist reality and Marx's explanation of how the organization of
social labour is carried out in a dynamic context in which actors
relate primarily to each other through things.  Sraffa seems not an
answer to but an example of autistic economics.

Another example of which is the putting by neo classical economists
of draught animals and virgin land on the same level as the relations
of social labour as if the first two would have any objective
existence, meaning and use value if society did not solve first the
problem of the reproduction of the social labour relations.

But this list seems intent on pursuing the discussion of Sraffa and
economics rather than Marx. That was inevitable once an economist
demanded that he remain in charge forever.


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