Re: [OPE] Understanding value (reply to Michael Heinrich)

From: Anders Ekeland <>
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 03:37:53 EDT

At 05:18 06.05.2009, Allin Cottrell wrote:

>(2) If by "law of value" one means the dominance of the commodity
>form and money, then of course all Marxists (well, most Marxists,
>and certainly including Dieterich and Cockshott/Cottrell) are in
>favour of its abolition -- though such abolition cannot be by
>fiat, but rather by the construction of an alternative, planned

I think Jurriaan has some valid points here - and what it means to
get rid of the "dominance of the commodity form and money" also needs
to be made more concrete if we are not going to be at "sixes and sevens".

In my opinion to get rid of the law of value is to "Aufheben" the law
of value, that is the atomistic, "blind", "Bellum omnium contra
omnes" character of capitalism. To aufheben the law of value a
fundamental democratization is needed and a relative abundance of
goods and services.

Fundamentally this is a question of democracy and individual freedom
- and it will be a long social process - a generation or two.
Certainly nothing that can be done by decree - those trying that have
certainly not understood this is the Marxian way. The fact that
Chavez asked for yet another period as president is also a sign that
the democratization is not necessarily on the right track. But each
step towards most people feeling that they govern the process of
investment, the building of infrastructures (where cities should be,
how large, how densely populated etc. etc.)

Another important element is a gradual, but radical equalization of
incomes, to make people equal in that very important sense. This
presupposes a radical rising of the general level of education. My
proposal in Norway has been that everybody should have university
level education - we are moving in that direction, but the process
should consciously be speeded up. You need education not to do some
specific work, but to be a citizen that can do all kind of work.
Another aspect is that using markets for distribution of most items
for personal consumption do not create social injustice since a real
abundance of products is still a century or two ahead.

This is because our "aufheben" is placed in a special historical
context - the fight against global warming. Since fossil fuels are
finite we had to go to a solar society sooner or later anyhow, but
now we will have a very forced transition. This will put another type
of constraints on production/consumption for decades - a century ahead maybe.

In my opinion any forced abolition of money, credit, markets -
besides getting rid of the clearly unproductive speculative parts of
the capitalist economy is to start in the wrong end.

My litmus test for a real socialist development is a government that
by democratic means implements a steep increase in energy prices in a
way that is socially just, that is really democratically anchored
among ordinary people, because price increases (or similar
non-monetary regulation) is urgently needed - and can only be
implemented in a social just way - otherwise the process will be blocked.

That is what we see in the Kyoto process, the ruling classes of the
world cannot agree to a socially just division of the "burden"
imposed by the changes needed to limit global warming. Only a
socialist development can do that, but still the left is to locked in
in its opposistion to any type of price increase since it obviously
will hit the poor harder than the rich. But we must cut through this
Gordian not with the sword of social just way of rising energy
prices. An international carbon tax - the revenue of which goes to
the poor - must be the first step.

Anders Ekeland

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Received on Wed May 6 03:42:00 2009

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