Re: [OPE] Valuation of knowledge

From: Paul Bullock <>
Date: Sun Nov 08 2009 - 11:06:01 EST

Just a comment:

I may have misread, but in these exchanges it is not clear to me that the
value of the labour time put into research and development is always
distinguished from the value (as carried in the market price) of the sold-on
formulation (whether as licensed prescription or embodied within a material
product, or compounded service). Then at each stage the utility of the
produce (as idea) is itself sometimes mingled with 'value'....

Paul Bl.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Saturday, November 07, 2009 6:29 AM
Subject: [OPE] Valuation of knowledge

> Hi Paul,
> Thanks for your comment. From my perspective, it is not true at all that
> it is "only very limited ways that a capitalist economy can define the
> value of knowledge". In fact it does value knowledge, and it socially
> values all knowledge, explicitly or implicitly, irrespective of whether
> this is quantified in money or not. It is just that (1) the valuations are
> variegated, may conflict and are often eclectic, depending on whatever
> use-value or exchange-value the knowledge currently happens to have, given
> the supply and demand for it, (2) what knowledge is worth often lacks any
> stable valuation, since depending on how it is applied, and on the
> substitutability of other knowledge, its worth can instantly fall to zero,
> or suddenly become so indispensable that very high prices can be charged
> by its owners.
> Just because the commercial market price of a piece of knowledge cannot
> currently be specified with exactitude, does not mean that it isn't valued
> explicitly or implicitly. To argue that the value of knowledge cannot be
> defined would be to fall into the trap of bourgeois economics which
> recognizes the value of something only if it can be priced. As I explained
> on OPE-L, my view is that although value relations may be mediated by
> prices which can quantify them more precisely, value relations exist
> independently of prices, basically because they refer to the real economy
> (the allocation) of work-time, i.e. to the societal relationship between
> different labour efforts. Whereas the contractual price of labour-power
> may be to an extent individually established through negotiation, the
> value of labour-power is socially established, creating the possibility
> that the value and price of labor-power may diverge very considerably,
> depending on social status, bargaining power, the porosity (susceptibility
> or vulnerability) to exploitation, and state regulation.
> One of the problems in this sense with orthodox Marxism is, that Marx
> never completed his planned book on the specific forms of wage-labour and
> the labour market - his primary aim in Das Kapital was to explain the mode
> of production and distribution of capital, the argument being that in the
> course of the growth of capital, all obstacles to appropriating labour in
> a form contingently suitable to the requirements of capital accumulation
> are overthrown. This theoretical omission is extremely serious however,
> since the labour market, through which valuations of labour-power are
> asserted, and which mediates the development of the division of labour,
> happens to be of crucial importance to the very functioning of the
> capitalist mode of production, and the specific forms it will take. It is
> also of critical importance for the position, status and character of
> social classes. In this sense, Marx's theoretical effort is very much
> unfinished.
> Jurriaan
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Received on Sun Nov 8 11:09:31 2009

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