Re: [OPE] Question about books that are sound introductions to economics

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Mon Sep 20 2010 - 17:53:41 EDT

I do not follow your point 1.

I think you are wrong on point 2, since both in Capital and in Critique of the Gotha Programme he mentions a system of payment by labour vouchers.

You are obviously right about point 3, but all that means is that people still have to pay income tax and social insurance. You must not allow this obvious point to distract from the much greater issue of abolishing the extraction of surplus value.

I dispute what you say about there being no objective calculus for comparing trained and untrained labour. Skilled versus unskilled in a given trade can obviously be compared by looking at differences in productivity per day.

There is an ongoing controversy about these questions in the pages of the CPGB paper, I am providing a link to a letter I sent in yesterday which touches on many of the issues Jurriaan raises.

replying to this among other things.

From: [] On Behalf Of Jurriaan Bendien []
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 2:11 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: [OPE] Question about books that are sound introductions to economics

"Full value of labour" sounds sexy coming from Paul Cockshott, but I think
it is a false idea.

1) As soon as you admit that the prices of goods and services, and the
access to them, can vary independently of what a worker earns, then even if
he earns "a fair wage" it does not mean at all that he can claim "the full
value" of the goods and services that are owing to him. This was proved in
the USSR.

2) Marx never argued that socialism consisted in workers getting the full
value of their own work effort. He argued that socialism consisted in
ensuring that all workers get what they need for a decent life. The category
of bourgeois "value" was supposed to disappear.

3) If the population of society is not just the working population, but also
the population which depends on the working population, then the working
population cannot earn the full value of their work, because their work must
also support the population of dependents (the young and the old, the sick
and the disabled etc.).

4) There is no "objective" calculus for reducing a unit of skilled
labour-time to a unit of average or simple labour time, and people can
always argue they did not get the full value because they believe their
labour should be valued differently, and this is an interminable
pettybourgeois debate.

5) In many cases it is not even possible to identify the hours worked which
result in a certain compensation package, and the compensation package
includes items the worker gets "by right" and which have nothing to do with
how many hours he works.

In reality, the "full value of labour" theory is a theory of the New Marxist
Exploiting Class, the parasitic bureaucrats and technocrats who extract a
surplus from the workers by means of their control over a redistribution of
of income, ownership of state assets and the taxation system. It has nothing
to do with socialism. Their idea of socialism is to put a gun to the
workers' heads and command "produce socialism". It does not work that way.

In Venezuela, the Marxist-Leninist bureaucrats are hostile to markets,
without even understanding anything about market economics, and the leftists
want to introduce socialism without having any clear idea about what
socialism is, aided by "advisors" who don't even live in Venezuela. This
sort of approach is bound to lead to economic ruination, which would in turn
discredit the very project of an egalitarian distribution of wealth.

Why not start off with the most advanced thinking about how economic goods
can be allocated using modern technology, rather than a discredited 19th
century theory of utopian socialists?


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Received on Mon Sep 20 17:55:23 2010

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