Re: [OPE] value-form theory redux

From: Philip Dunn <>
Date: Sun Mar 15 2009 - 16:14:17 EDT

On Sun, 2009-03-15 at 12:25 +0100, Dave Zachariah wrote:
> Philip Dunn wrote:
> >
> > Why have we we got "agents" now? "Economic calculation"? Is not this the
> > starting point of orthodox economics?
> >
> No, but the starting point of materialist ontology. See for instance Ian
> Wright's work agent-based economics.
> Orthodox economics only came in because you were unable to think outside
> of its boundaries: your only example of economic value outside of
> exchange was 'marginal utility'.

Ouch! And here was I trying to present myself as an Aristotelian

In another recent post you said:

"This inevitably brings in the issue of terminology. What does 'economic
value' mean? 'Economic' refers to managing resources and 'value' is a
scalar quantity or more precisely, a metric in this context. The scalar
quantities allow different goods and services to be compared for the
purpose of managing resources."

So economics is about the "allocation of scarce resources among
competing ends", as one Lord of the LSE once said (Robbins, I think).

I appreciate that you could well be focussed on how things might be
organised in a socialist society.

My focus is different. It is on the extraction of surplus labour and the
different ways that this has been carried out throughout history. There
are not all that many ways. Slavery, corvée labour, tithes and so on for
unfree labour.

In Aristotelian fashion, extraction of surplus labour is understood as a
genus. For free waged labour under capital, the value-form is the
species. The value-form then yields up value-formed labour as
homogeneous, "abstract" labour. Useful labour is heterogeneous,
value-formed labour is homogeneous. Use-values are heterogeneous,
commodities are homogeneous. There is only one kind of commodity.

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Received on Sun Mar 15 16:17:32 2009

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