Re: [OPE] value-form theory redux

From: Paul Bullock <>
Date: Sun Mar 15 2009 - 18:14:57 EDT


I think you wil find 'economy' goes back to the Greeks!! not the 15th

paul B.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 8:41 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] value-form theory redux

> 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
> involved."
> (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
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