[OPE-L:5450] Re: [ANDREW K] Re:Luxuries in the New Solution

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@classic.msn.com)
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 06:35:51 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Paul Cockshott's ope-l 5448.

I asked Paul to "Please show me textual evidence that Marx says that living
labor is ('clearly'!) not socially necessary unless a positive 'net product'
of every commodity is produced."

Instead, he responds: "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 available

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."

In the example I gave, there was none of this stuff. Paul is reading into the

But if one wants alternatives:

1. Do nothing with the 9 units of grain remaining (after capitalist
consumption) from last year. The rains come, it rots, and is spoiled. Net
product = -9.

2. Have workers store the grain so that it remains free from moisture, etc.
4 person-years of labor are required. Workers receive 1/2 unit of grain per
unit of living labor, so real wages would equal 2 units of grain. Net product
= 0. "Surplus product" = -2.

3. Produce according to the specified technique. Plant the 9 units, use 2
person years of living labor (so that real wages = 1 unit of grain). Gross
output is a normally distributed random variable with mean of 11 and standard
deviation of 0.5.

If alternative 3 is chosen, assume that this turns out to be an especially bad
year. Gross output = 8. Net product = -1. "Surplus product" = -2. (These
are the conditions of the original example).

Now, is the labor expended in new corn production (option 3) socially
necessary or not, according to MARX's definition?

As for the rest:

(1) Paul, think more carefully. *Why* are you measuring the output of the
microprocessor producers in computational power? What about if people wore
the silicon chips as earrings instead of using them to compute? What would
the "physical product" be then? So you see, it depends on use, it depends on

(2) In the bread example, I specified that "in the economy as a whole, workers
consume u loaves of white bread at time t," so if labor is required (directly
or indirectly) to produce all commodities, then white bread is a basic in
Sraffa's sense. Actually, however, I don't see why my example has to conform
to anything in Sraffa. Nor does it need to be "equivalent" to the microchip
example. My original point, for which the microchip example was brought in
merely to illustrate, is that in reality, negative net products of PHYSICAL
goods are produced all the time. To refute this, you now must specify a way
of determining whether or not there's a positive "net product" of breadstuffs.

Andrew Kliman