Re: [OPE] value and measuring labor time

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Wed May 13 2009 - 12:33:41 EDT

Hi Howard

> Metrics compare.  Suppose two socially useful effects, material or not.  In
> deciding which was worth more socially, what would we take into account?

Who is the "we" here?

> Some measure of the quantity of individual effort allocated for sure, some
> measure of the degree to which either product would advance disposable time
> for individual community members,  some measure of the degree to which
> either would advance the richness of community connections, some measure of
> the degree to which either would contribute to the full development of
> individual members of the community, some measure of the development of
> individual's social productive power.

Why try to "objectively" measure use-value at all?

Why not be content to let the community operationally manifest their
own (personal) measures of what they believe to be useful or not
through some kind of voting mechanism? The kinds of considerations you
raise (e.g., raising of culture, increase in free time etc.) can be
part of the debate prior to voting, but no attempt is made to settle
on metrics of such (immeasurable?) qualities.

For example (and I hesitate to bring this up given the normal
apologetic use it is put to) people already vote with their money.
They implicitly decide how useful things are in terms of how much of
their own labor-time they are willing to exchange for that thing.

Underlying my comments is my philosophical bias that a necessary
connection holds between content and form, i.e. the Marxist tradition
follows Hegel not Kant in this respect. Money, therefore, cannot
merely be an irrational form but expresses an actual quality of its
content, abstract labor, which cannot be simply negated. We need to
understand what aspects of our species-being the money-form
necessarily expresses and therefore needs preserving. Especially so
given the long and intimate connection between material and social
progress and money and markets.

I also think that the best way to make progress with these issues is
through explicit requirements and designs for post-capitalist
societies, otherwise it is easy to get lost in generalities.

Best wishes,

P.S. Thanks for the Grundrisse quotes. A good reminder of Marx's
amazingly deep and profound reflections on where we are going.
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Received on Wed May 13 12:38:42 2009

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