Re: [OPE-L] [A laymans defence of the labour theory of value?]

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Sun Mar 04 2007 - 18:00:38 EST

These are helpful suggestions Rakesh, but

a) which of them are available on the web and can thus be readily communicated to a militant in Russia
b) are you sure that they are at a level that somebody who is unfamiliar with the economic literature 
   critical of marx would understand?

Paul Cockshott

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of Rakesh Bhandari
Sent: Sun 3/4/2007 12:49 AM
Subject: [OPE-L] [A laymans defence of the labour theory of value?]
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

> Perhaps it was not clear enought from what I sent that I wasy quoting a
> Russian
> correspondant.
> What I was trying to ask, was if comrades knew of a good defence of the
> labour
> theory of value for the lay person, explaining why it has not been
> rebutted?

Shaikh's contributions are brilliantly lucid, including his Poverty of
Algebra. But his dictionary and Palgrave entries are helpful too.

I think it pays to revisit the popular classics--Hilferding's reply to
Bohm Bawerk, Louis Boudin's reponse to the Austrians, II Rubin's history
of economic thought (more helpful in some ways than his book on Marx's
theory of value), Bukharin's and William J Blake's response to Bohm
I think that Hindess, et al's explanation of Marx's theory of value is
more powerful than their critiques (Marx's Capital and Capitalism today).
Marx's critique of adding up theories is of course centrally
important--Dobb presents that critique well as does Duncan Foley in Adam's
Fallacy. But Rubin should not be forgotten in this regard.
That even with indifference curves and revealed preference neo classical
value theory is built on the sand of subjectivist foundations is well
explained by Homa Katouzian in his book on his economic ideology. Of
course Joan Robinson's Economic Philosophy is a classic.
Andrew Collier's two chapters on the labor theory of value in his popular
intro to Marx are admirable.

All this work is accessible to a lay person.

Foley does a great job showing how the neoclassical rival depends on
dubious assumptions about the representative agent and substitution.

There is a very good book by Ken Cole comparing neo classical, Marxian and
instutionalist theories of value. It's written in almost comic book
fashion, but it's a serious and illuminating book.

In academic circles nowadays it's not the Sraffian critique of Marx that
resonates but Negri's ideas about how the imputation of labor time to any
commodity has become completely arbitrary if not impossible.


> Paul Cockshott
> -----Original Message-----
> From: OPE-L on behalf of Paul Cockshott
> Sent: Sat 3/3/2007 3:47 PM
> Subject: [OPE-L] Question from a russian communist - any suggestions
> Also, I probably mentioned that I am not an economist and I was just
> wondering if you could recommend a short summarized rebuttal to those that
> say the labor theory of value has been discreditted.  I read some of your
> responses to that but with my lack of expertise it's difficult for me to
> put such a response into words in some kind of debate.
> Paul Cockshott

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