Re: [OPE] Reply to critics (Levy)

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Mon Oct 04 2010 - 04:55:10 EDT

There are two issues here.
1 the role of value in estimating projects which may be designed to meet general social needs : healthcare, education, flood prevention etc .
2. in the regulation of supply of items of personal consumption .

I would say that in both cases calculations of abstract social labour are required, but for slightly different reasons.
For big social provision items democratic decision making is almost certainly feasible. The population could vote in rferendums on how much of societies labour should go on additional healthcare, education, environmental protection. But to do this the budgets have to be presented in some units. One could just use millions of person years as one alternative, or one could express it as marginal additional hours or minutes per week of individual labour duties. I.E. How many additional hours a week are you willing to work to provide dykes around the thames estuary to protect against the centuries of floods to come.
In a simple socialist community like the chinese rural communes, this could indeed largely be done in concrete terms. If the commune decides it need flood defences, everyone spends a day a week building dykes. But we can hardly conscript the citizens of Birmingham Bolton or Barnsley to the flood defences of Great Yarmouth ,, Southwold or the Isle of Dogs.
Instead people would be committing to do additional hours of work for society at their own job, or perhaps at some local community project.
Since in a vote on the topic by the population as a whole the labour that they were committing would to do is not the concrete labour of digging dykes or building hospitals, but an undertaking to do more of their ownjob as a general contribution to the social good, the concept of abstract social labour remains essential. What changes is the ideological representation of the calculation. Instead of being represented as a set of different monetary taxes on different forms of money income it becomes something expressed directly as abstract hours of labour .... Abstract because you can fullfill your obligation in any concrete form was appropriate to your station in life and geographic station

--- original message ---
From: "paul bullock" <>
Subject: Re: [OPE] Reply to critics (Levy)
Date: 3rd October 2010
Time: 10:35:31 pm

This has always been a bone of contention for me.. why do you think that the
time spent by particular concrete labours that are allocated by collective
decisions, certainly a physical cost, can be regarded as 'values' if the
specific social process of abstraction, the market, no longer exists? Why
can an accounting system simply based on the changing quantities of
materials and effort not be set up? Demand will be set by democratic choice
about use values.

Why are you trying to retain the abstraction of the market?

Paul B

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Paul Cockshott
Sent: 03 October 2010 21:22
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] Reply to critics (Levy)

Paul B
  If you think that there can be
value without exchange then of course we will soon be hearing that value
exists in communist societies where the market has been done away with.

Paul C
Why on earth not?

A communist society would still have to attach labour costs to different
projects, what are these but values.

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Received on Mon Oct 4 05:00:03 2010

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