Re: [OPE] "lies, damned lies, and underconsumptionist statistics"

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Tue Sep 28 2010 - 05:02:35 EDT


Social labour can produce goods or services. The distinction between the two
may not be easy to draw. Services may consist of supplying a specific
tangible product, or they may consist of living labour-services or living
activities. The transformation of a service into a commodity presupposes
that the service can be identified, separated out and accounted for as a
distinct product or activity.

Money-prices may express a value relationship, a value proportion among
products. But money-prices do not necessarily have to express
value-relationships at all, as Marx himself says. I have explained why this
is so, in two wiki's: on "value-form" and "real prices and ideal prices".

Strictly speaking, in Marx's theory "the value of money" is the cost of
production of money,

Paul C
I agree with all the above but

but in the case of fiat money (fiduciary currency), the
"value of money" is equal to the exchange-value of products for which the
money can trade, which is influenced by the amount of income that can be
earnt from owning the money.


How is the exchange value of products influenced by the income earnt from owning money?
The crude theories of the New Marxist Exploiter Class about "unproductive
sectors" understand nothing about the topic - they are not grounded in Marx
nor grounded in an empirical understanding of reality, but rather in
discriminatory prejudices. It is best to leave those aside.
What Marx means with productive labour ion capitalist society is essentially
labour which creates a net addition to the value of capital. However, an
ambiguity of capital accumulation is, that such an accumulation may consist
of net growth of the capital stock, or a redistribution of the existing
stock. So what is productive labour to one capitalist, may not be to
another, or from the social point of view. A gain can be a total net gain,
or a gain at the expense of the loss of someone else.
Surely this is an ambiguity on your part about what you mean by accumulation.
Either you follow what you say is Marx's view, that it is a net addition to
the value of capital, in which case debts do not count since they are not net
addition to value. Or you specify some other procedure whereby the redistribution
of capital between agents counts as accumulation. What appears arbitrary to me is
that you appear to be adding the positive side of debts but not deducting the negative
side. If a person takes out a $50,000 mortgage on a $100,000 house that they own, then there is no
change in the net worth either of the bank nor of the borrower, so that the
creation of this loan can not count as capital accumulation.
Before Loan
Homeowner                                  Bank
Assets                                     Assets
Home $100,000                              Reserves  $x billion
After loan
Homeowner                                  Bank
Home equity $50,000                        Equity in house $50,000
Cash        $50,000                        Reserves  $x billion - 50,000
There is no net accumulation here, neither party has increased their capital, so it is wrong to include loans on houses as part of accumulation.
Marx rejected the physicalist theory of value, on three main grounds.
He never uses the term physicalist theory of value and so never rejects it, this 'physicalist theory of value' is a straw man you have invented.
*First, Marx regards the attribution of value as purely social - economic
value contains "not an atom of matter" as he says.
No it is not purely social, it is social, but social within the context of the interaction of humans with nature via labour. And the value of a produced commodity is not an 'attribution' it is a necessity imposed on people by the need to work to survive. The price to a share certificate, or an acre of land on the other hand is just a social attribution.
*Second, the value of products refers according to Marx to the relevant
quantities of labour which are currently necessary to perform them. This has
nothing to do with Sraffa's idea of "dated labour" because it does not
concern "the value which a commodity contains" ("the past and present labour
incorporated into it" but rather "the current social valuation of the
commodity", i.e. the total quantity of labour-time currently required to
produce it, a synchronic and not a diachronic reality.
Paul C
This is a misrepresentation of Sraffa, for Sraffa too, it is synchronic property of the current conditions of production.
Paul Cockshott and his circle want to emphasize that the production of
material, tangible things is the basis for all other production and
distribution occurring in the economy. It is just that this "material
production", regarded as the productive activity, could not even occur
without much non-material production.
Paul C
What is the non-material production that is so essential to material production Jurriann?
The activity of banking perhaps?
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Received on Tue Sep 28 05:04:00 2010

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