[OPE-L:5448] Re: [ANDREW K] Re:Luxuries in the New Solution

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 01:38:30 -0700 (PDT)

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> I don't ignore these other conditions, I presuppose them. Please show me

> textual evidence that Marx says that living labor does not produce value
> unless a positive "net product" of every commodity is produced. (Would
> really have us believe that the production of negative value is a
> concept in terms of Marx's theory?) Please show me textual evidence that
> says that living labor is ("clearly"!) not socially necessary unless a
> positive "net product" of every commodity is produced.
According to M labour to be productive of value must be socially necessary
in the sense of being performed under the best available technical
conditions. In the example you gave there were two production processes
1. Do nothing with the grain, leave it in store for a year.
2. Plant it under conditions which would ensure a net negative product.
Clearly process 2 is dominated by process 1, and can not count
as the best available technical condition - thus not socially necessary
thus not productive of value but consumptive thereof.

> I had written: "The general case is actually very important, because, as
> Freeman stresses, in reality the Hawkins-Simon conditions are not met.
> computers produce 586 computers instead of 486 computers, and so forth.
> simultaneism even deal with this?"
> Paul responds: "This is irrelevant in that the product in the case of
> computers is the computational power, not the particular pieces of
silicon on
> which it is embodied. There is clearly a net surplus of computational
> produced in the semi-conductor/computer industry."
> Well, now the cat is out of the bag. Simultaneism's "physical
quantities" are
> not really physical quantities (pieces of silicon), but use-values
> (computational power). So, as Alan has stressed, physicalism collapses
> utilitarianism.

Use values are a question of technology not demand, not reducible to
utilitarianism. When considering whether there is a net surplus of
some product, one does not demand that the outputs be physically identical
with the inputs.

The same electrons do not come out of a power station as are used in
its lighting, nor do they even come out at the same voltage. To compare
electricity which is supplied at varying voltages one reduces it to a
common denominator of Joules or KwH. To compare computing power, one
uses an analogous procedure - reduce it to millions of instructions per
This is a purely technical procedure having no dependence upon 'demand'
as the concept is known in bourgeois economics.

> Take another very simple example: in the economy as a whole, workers
> u loaves of white bread at time t, and some of them go on to produce u -
> loaves of white bread, w loaves of whole wheat bread, x loaves of
> bread, y bagels, and z scones at time t+1. How are you going to
eliminate the
> heterogeneity of use-values here? Say that they are not producing and
> consuming breadstuffs, but calories? Count all breadstuffs as equal?
Count a
> bushel of oats used to make the multigrain bread as equal to a bushel of
> .. and then what? Or are you going to do what the input-output accounts
> actually do, measure equivalence in terms of prices? In that case, you
> use your "physical quantities" to explain prices, because you're
> prices by prices. (Note this well, Ajit.)

I dont accept this example as equivalent to the former,
as the bread does not enter directly
or indirectly into the production of bread. It is, if I understand Sraffa
correctly, non-basic.