Re: [OPE-L] Che's/martinez's Economics

From: Paul Cockshott (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Tue May 08 2007 - 05:23:25 EDT

Quoting Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL>:

> Paul Cockshott wrote:
> My take on the failings of hithertoo existing socialism relate centrally
> to the retention of money and the wage form.
> I think that this makes your socialism terribly naive, whatever the boldness
> of your vision in other respects.
> Jurriaan
Why is this idea naive?

It appears to me to be a direct attempt to apply the marxist method
to analysing the mode of production in the USSR
Marx said that the key to any society was its mode of surplus extraction,
to understand hithertoo existing socialist society one first has to discover
specific mode of surplus extraction.

For the USSR the mode of surplus extraction was a combination of

1) the prior speccification of the physical form of the product
   in the plan, which implicitly specifies that part of the product
   whose physical form makes it non-consumable as the surplus
2) the rough financial balancing of this by the turnover tax on
   state enterprises

Since the turnover tax was deducted from turnover prior to the payment
of wages, the wage necessarily fell short of the value produced. In
fact, since the turnover tax was used to fund state provision of free
consumer services, this meant that the wage was a relatively smaller
portion of labour time than under capitalism.

This systematic underpayment of labour, worse even than under capitalism,
had two invidious consequences
a) workers were demotivated
b) it systematically biased the entire costing system of state enterprises
   towards the use of labour intensive technology, slowing down technical

Why is this analysis naive?
Is the identification of the mode of surplus extraction wrong?
Is it naive to focus on the mode of surplus extraction?

Paul Cockshott

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