Re: [OPE] value-form theory redux

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sun Mar 15 2009 - 16:41:25 EDT

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

I'm not following the Lord of LSE but etymology. 'Economy' goes back to
the 15th century, meaning "management of material resources", in the
context of the household. Hence you get 'political economy' as the
economy of states.

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

Yes, but not exclusively. See for instance Jurriaan's references to
historical research on Mesopotamia:

    "For example, a balanced account of the labor provided by 37 female
    workers in the year 2034 BC indicates the different activities in
    which they were involved. Milling work took up 5,986 labor-days. The
    time dedicated to this task was calculated on the basis of the
    amounts of their finished products, that is, flour of different
    qualities. The source tablets for the balanced account provided the
    total amounts of the different types of flour milled. The time
    needed to produce these was calculated on the basis of standardized
    performance expectations. The accountant knew, for example, that 860
    liters of fine flour had been produced during the year. As it was
    expected that one woman milled 20 liters of that type of flour in
    one day, it was easy to calculate that 43 labor days had been
    (Marc van de Mieroop, "Accounting in Early Mesopotamia: some
    remarks", in Michael Hudson and Cornelia Wunsch, Creating Economic
    Order: Recordkeeping, standardization and the development of
    accounting in the ancient Near East". Bethesda: CDL, 2004, p. 56).

> 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.

I don't disagree with this focus, I think it is a central concern of
historical materialism.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sun Mar 15 16:47:41 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT