Re: [OPE] Star Trek and Labour Theory of Value.

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Mon Nov 03 2008 - 12:44:26 EST

So, as grater as labour productivity is, lower is the amount of labour needed to produce certain quantity of product. Therefore, if some time we were able to synthesize goods at infinitely zero labor costs, labour would not be necessary to record the variation of productivity (nor money in an alternative accounting system).   Any accounting system would be unnecessary since we would have plenty of resources, the final stage of Marxian communist economy.   So maybe Dickinson observation has no sense.  A. Agafonow ________________________________ De: David Laibman <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: lunes, 3 de noviembre, 2008 17:52:53 Asunto: Re: [OPE] Star Trek and Labour Theory of Value. We talked about this on OPE many years ago. The starship Enterprise has "synthesizers."  Captain Picard, e.g., says "Earl Grey Tea -- hot."  The computer hums, and -- voila -- there is his cup of tea, ready for drinking. I remember one unimaginative writer having the characters speak of "synthesizer rations," and even trading these rations.  Shame!  But the technology clearly implies unlimited power to synthesize -- in short, labor content of goods = 0.  Surely, the energy required to accomplish this, compared to what it must take to run a starship at warp speeds, must be negligible. Ernest Mandel, in his *Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory*, used this fantasy (not Star Trek; just in general) as an argument for the labor theory of value.  Clearly, where goods can be synthesized infinitely at zero labor cost, they would not command other goods in exchange.  No labor, no exchange value.  QED.  Unfortunately, and interestingly, this thought experiment does not distinguish between labor and the other (perhaps the only other) candidate for a substance of value: marginal utility.  Without scarcity, MU is also = 0.  This seems to confirm what many have said: substantiation of the principle of an intrinsic relation between labor and value (one definition, surely, of the "law of value") cannot be accomplished within the frame of economic categories alone.  It is about social relations, and the "proof" of that fact takes us beyond the normal range of epistemological validity criteria (trains of reasoning with "QED: at the end). Anyway, greetings to all Trekkies on the list!  And herewith I improve Jerry's ratio of participating OPE members. David Alejandro Agafonow wrote: > > Anyone here is a fan of Star Trek? > >  > I am and I wonder what kind of economic model supports our society depicted there. I remember a chapter where they have a sort of microwave, but this one materializes every kind of good that you specify. I suppose it operates with nanotechnology and it is able to combine atoms in a specified way so that we can have the good we asked to the computer. > >  > Does this stage of our society could fit the situation imagined by Dickinson? That is, when human labour comes to be so scarce compared with other factors of production. > >  > A. Agafonow > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------ > > _______________________________________________ > ope mailing list > > >  _______________________________________________ ope mailing list

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