theories of value

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Jabberman
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Feb 6 2008 02:21
theories of value

do people here embrace the labor or subjective theory of value?
what distingushes value from price?

Carousel
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Feb 6 2008 14:19

I can only embrace things that can be photographed. So it's game over for me.

Communard
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Feb 6 2008 22:09
Carousel wrote:
I can only embrace things that can be photographed. So it's game over for me.

yout clothes, your home, your things.....can be photographed.
you dont produce all your stuff by yourself.... these are social labour products.
someone, somewhere, worked on your shoes.
go there and take a pic.

Carousel
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Feb 6 2008 22:21

Let's consider this photo for a mo. A theory of value does not appear. Across the sundry laws of value supposed to exist, the picture looks the same. It demonstrates the bureaucratic mode of thought embedded within the Victorian ideologies that avail themselves both as the prevailing order and its official negation.

Communard
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Feb 7 2008 00:32

the exploitation is visible in that photo...unless you don't want to see it.
you are a product of the society, you live thanks to (despite?) the society....and his production.
You've paid for your PC, havent' you? maybe made in "china", "taiwan" ecc.... why the price changes if the motherboard is from china or from USA?

the official and ideological negation of the capitalism is the "communism" a.k.a. "state capitalism."

if you believe you're an individual outside the relationships of production, you are lying to yourself.

mikus
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Feb 7 2008 01:27
Carousel wrote:
Let's consider this photo for a mo. A theory of value does not appear. Across the sundry laws of value supposed to exist, the picture looks the same. It demonstrates the bureaucratic mode of thought embedded within the Victorian ideologies that avail themselves both as the prevailing order and its official negation.

Photograph the Victorian ideologies you speak of. Also photograph the bureaucratic mode of thought. And please photograph official negation for me, the prevailing order, and the meaning of your sentences.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 7 2008 02:38

Getting away from phototgraphy for a moment, I think the "labour theory of value" states a normative position. That is, if one says that a reproducible good is over-priced, or a rip-off, one means that it is priced above its labour value.

Marx claimed that the labour theory of value is also descriptive in a capitalist context. He knew that prices and labour value are not identical, of course, due among other things to the capitalist imperative to rip-off when possible...but he did believe they were related in a principled way. (In the simple version of his theory he treated them as identical) So, as I understand it did most of the classical economists believe and Marx can be considered as the last of the major classical economists. However this principled relationship was never convincingly defined nor proven by Marx; nor I think by any neo-Marxist economists . But I don't know for sure and hope to find out more on this thread!

However that doesn't change the normative view of labour value. If a free society was not immediately able to dispense with money (as of course it wouldn't be) then pricing of goods would be necessary, and I imagine that labour value would be used.

Carousel
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Feb 7 2008 10:37
Quote:
the exploitation is visible in that photo...

I suppose in a way it is. A brief correspondence with Monsieur Dupont a while back set out the assertion that you either get an iPod alongside the capitalist mode of production, or you don’t get an iPod at all. I watched Ben Kingsley the other night on telly. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about exploitation, I must say I had trouble seeing his point. Any road up, I’m given to understand there’s a spectrum of thought on the evils of exploitation with moral aversion at one end and the (somewhat magical) belief that’ll lead to the extinction of the species at the other. To those who fall along this line of thought, it seems universal, but in reality it’s a matter of quite marginal psychological predilection.

Quote:
Photograph the Victorian ideologies you speak of.

I think a cine reel of Clement Attlee’s “socialist appeal” speech adequately sums up the theme I’m driving at.

Quote:
Also photograph the bureaucratic mode of thought. And please photograph official negation for me, the prevailing order...

A picture of anarchists/communists deliberating their position on nationalisation.

Quote:
the meaning of your sentences.

What it all means is something we have to supply for ourselves, it can’t be found in anybody’s sentences in isolation. Especially not mine.

Quote:
However this principled relationship was never convincingly defined nor proven by Marx; nor I think by any neo-Marxist economists. But I don't know for sure and hope to find out more on this thread!

Comrade, the separation you imagine between yourself, Marx and those “economists” is itself an aspect of middle class society. Rather than concern yourself with the contents of the heads of the chattering official political niche, working class people would be better turning their goals into pictures and their pictures into real events.

capricorn
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Feb 7 2008 10:59
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If a free society was not immediately able to dispense with money (as of course it wouldn't be)

Why not?

Carousel
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Feb 7 2008 11:09
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Why not?

We need it for gambling and waving at hos.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 8 2008 01:35
capricorn wrote:
Quote:
If a free society was not immediately able to dispense with money (as of course it wouldn't be)

Why not?

Because the new world is born with the birthmarks of the old.....look, I might be wrong and if so all the better. But " the day after the revolution" when the organs of power thrown up by the isurrectionarry general stike are organising production and distribution......do you think that the population will have magically transformed into libertrain communists? The alternative will be to tolerate some form of money economy or to suppress with a hated secret police.

The concept of a "free society" as distinct from an "anarchist utopia" is important here. In a free society oppressive institutions have been overthrown but people have not necessarily internalised Anarchist values.

Carousel
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Feb 8 2008 09:35
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not necessarily internalised Anarchist values

As if it's a problem of values. The punters’ values are more than adequate already, and in so far as the “level” of values means anything, are far in advance of anything offered by the various peddlers of sundry left wing ethical pronouncements.

bugbear
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Feb 8 2008 12:17
mikus wrote:
Carousel wrote:
Let's consider this photo for a mo. A theory of value does not appear. Across the sundry laws of value supposed to exist, the picture looks the same. It demonstrates the bureaucratic mode of thought embedded within the Victorian ideologies that avail themselves both as the prevailing order and its official negation.

Photograph the Victorian ideologies you speak of. Also photograph the bureaucratic mode of thought. And please photograph official negation for me, the prevailing order, and the meaning of your sentences.

jonnylocks
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Feb 8 2008 15:15
capricorn wrote:
Quote:
If a free society was not immediately able to dispense with money (as of course it wouldn't be)

Why not?

Antieverything
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Feb 8 2008 16:31

See Kevin Carson, Studies In Mutualist Political Economy Chapter 2: A Subjective Recasting of the Labor Theory of Value

http://www.mutualist.org/id56.html

Quote:
The labor theory and cost principle are logically entailed in man's nature as a being who maximizes utility and (more to the point) minimizes disutility. As James Buchanan wrote,

Even in so simple a model [Adam Smith's primitive exchange model of beavers and deer], why should relative costs determine normal exchange values? They do so because hunters are assumed to be rational utility-maximizing individuals and because the positively valued "goods" and the negatively valued "bads" in their utility functions can be identified. If, for any reason, exchange values should settle in some ratio different from that of cost values, behavior will be modified. If the individual hunter knows that he is able, on an outlay of one day's labor, to kill two deer or one beaver, he will not choose to kill deer if the price of a beaver is three deer, even should he be a demander or final purchaser of deer alone. He can "produce" deer more cheaply through exchange under these circumstances.... Since all hunters can be expected to behave in the same way, no deer will be produced until and unless the expected exchange value returns to equality with the cost ratio. Any divergence between expected exchange value and expected cost value in this model would reflect irrational behavior on the part of the hunters.

In this interpretation, the classical theory embodies the notion of opportunity cost. To the hunter at the point of an allocative decision, the cost of a beaver is two deer and the cost of a deer is one-half a beaver. At an expected exchange ratio of one for two, each prospective hunter must be on the margin of indifference. Physical production and production-through-exchange yield identical results. Labor time, the standard for measurement, is the common denominator in which the opportunity costs are computed.

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neverfox
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Aug 20 2008 18:30
Kevin Carson wrote:
The labor theory and cost principle are logically entailed in man's nature as a being who maximizes utility and (more to the point) minimizes disutility.

I have been diving into Kevin Carson's work lately because I find it intriguing but, as a general skeptic, I've been trying to find the flaws. Not because I dislike Kevin (I don't know him) or mutualism (I'm still learning) but because I think it's a good way to approach a new subject. I think this is one of those flaws, assuming his philosophy requires this statement to be true. Why? Because I think the concept of utility maximization is severely flawed. Have a look at this presentation by Steve Keen, who explains why he thinks it's a gross oversimplification of reality. Keen also discusses the LTV of Marx as flawed but I'm not clear yet if Kevin's synthesis overcomes this. So who's right? Keen's work also deserves questions and skepticism and I'm just as new to it as I am to Kevin's work.

Does anyone with a better understanding of Kevin's work know if utility maximization is a key foundation of his mutualism and LTV? If so, I have my doubts about the whole thing if the foundation is shoddy.

Angelus Novus
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Aug 21 2008 15:35
Jabberman wrote:
do people here embrace the labor or subjective theory of value?

Neither. I am convinced by Marx's monetary theory of value, which is not synonymous with the "labor theory of value" of classical political economy.

Quote:
what distingushes value from price?

For one thing, completely different levels of abstraction. The commodity exchange and production depicted in the first three chapters of Vol. I of Capital does not have any correspondence in empirically existing capitalism. It is an abstraction from a number of further determinations developed over the course of the three volumes.

The persistent confusion about these things in English-language Marxism is primarily due to the fact that there has not been any systematic attempt at a reception of the research that has been made possible by the MEGA and MEGA2 projects, or the "neue Marx-lektüre" in the BRD since the 1970s.

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jura
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Aug 21 2008 15:51
Antieverything wrote:
See Kevin Carson, Studies In Mutualist Political Economy Chapter 2: A Subjective Recasting of the Labor Theory of Value

http://www.mutualist.org/id56.html

Quote:
The labor theory and cost principle are logically entailed in man's nature as a being who maximizes utility and (more to the point) minimizes disutility. As James Buchanan wrote,

[i]Even in so simple a model [Adam Smith's primitive exchange model of beavers and deer], why should relative costs determine normal exchange values? They do so because hunters are assumed to be rational utility-maximizing individuals and because the positively valued "goods" and the negatively valued "bads" in their utility functions can be identified.

This is where I stop paying attention. One of Marx's main objections to "classical political economy" was that it presented categories stemming from capitalism (value, exchange-value) as being eternal and applicable to all modes of production, by making them a part of "human nature" (which is a construct of bourgeois philosophy, just as "rational utility-maximizing individuals" are).

yaya2020
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Aug 22 2008 01:00

value appears more autonomous than ever now. in the art gallery you can get away with selling a childhood scribble for thousands, but when you're out there renting out hours of your life to bosses their greed arbitrarily determines how much they'll pay, and as our options are always fleeting, one is inclined to take what one can get, and gets ripped off.

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Django
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Aug 22 2008 19:59

Wouldnt you agree its determined by a number of things, such as the minimum wage, which is the legislated cost of reproduction of labour, rather than arbitrary greed?

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 22 2008 21:24

yaya seems to be banned Django, I'm not sure why but I think he might of turned out to be anarchyjordan

edgewaters
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Aug 22 2008 22:34

I have my own metric for value, which is simply rational desirability. I don't believe that the labour theory of value assigns value properly, because much labour can go into a thing which, in the end, is undesired and worthless. I also do not believe in theories of market value because they assign no value to various goods, services, and resources which definately have value (eg childrearing, clean air, etc) and conversely assign value to things which have zero desirability (eg telemarketing).

If a thing is desirable then it has value to the degree to which it is desirable. Clean air, time with one's family, or a human life, for instance, have value, just as does a hammer or a loaf of bread - whether the market assigns it a price or not, whether it is the product of labour or not.

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waslax
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Aug 23 2008 05:55
edgewaters wrote:
I don't believe that the labour theory of value assigns value properly, because much labour can go into a thing which, in the end, is undesired and worthless.

That is not a valid objection to the labour theory of value. The theory does not assign value to an individual thing based on the particular amount of labour that went into its production. If that were the case, then the more time one spent producing something, say, working as slowly as possible, the more value it would have. So obviously such a theory would be false. Rather, the theory says that two products of labour possess the same value if and only if the amount of socially necessary labour for their production is the same. And the determination of the amount of socially necessary labour for the production of a thing (commodity) is obtained by competition through the market.

RedHughs
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Aug 23 2008 07:28

Hmm,

I believe that the labor theory of value was a standard position of standard (capitalist) political economy in the 19th century. One crucial approach of Marx's was the critique of political economy. This is showing the implications of theories which capitalism itself gave rise to in order to show what capitalism would give rise to. Further, Marx did not articulate the position that labor power was universally the source of value in some a-historical fashion. He asserted that labor power was a quantity universally necessary for commodities in the capitalist mode of production. In Critique of the Gotha Program, he made the point that it is capitalism itself that fails to see that labor and nature are the two ingredients of any kind of production. We can see this in the present destruction of the natural environment, a destruction as inherent in capitalist logic as the exploitation of labor, both of which follow from capitalism's law of value.

edgewaters
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Aug 23 2008 14:00
waslax wrote:
That is not a valid objection to the labour theory of value. The theory does not assign value to an individual thing based on the particular amount of labour that went into its production. If that were the case, then the more time one spent producing something, say, working as slowly as possible, the more value it would have. So obviously such a theory would be false. Rather, the theory says that two products of labour possess the same value if and only if the amount of socially necessary labour for their production is the same. And the determination of the amount of socially necessary labour for the production of a thing (commodity) is obtained by competition through the market.

OK. But does it allow that value can arise independant of labour? For instance, a stable climate has value despite the fact no labour was necessary to its origin. Value is not restricted to commodities, and the market is incapable of representing all values accurately - it can only represent the exchange value of commodities. Commodities are not the sum of what is necessary to sustain labour.

mikus
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Aug 23 2008 14:54

The labor theory of value is not a theory of why people "value" things in the sense that you are speaking of. It doesn't say that you "value" food because it took labor-time to produce it, nor even that you "value" food because it takes "socially necessary labor time" to produce it. It is a theory of what regulates prices in capitalism. The answer it gives is socially necessary labor-time. (The exact way in which price is regulated by value was different depending on which economist you asked.)

This is an entirely different issue than the one you keep referring to, which isn't an economic issue but a normative one.

Dave B
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Aug 23 2008 15:27

Just by way of introduction Karl did in fact not use the term ‘simple commodity production’ much. However to be boring he did at least twice;

Quote:
“This reduction of the total quantity of labour going into a commodity seems, accordingly, to be the essential criterion of increased productivity of labour, no matter under what social conditions production is carried on. Productivity of labour, indeed, would always be measured by this standard in a society, in which producers regulate their production according to a preconceived plan, or even under simple commodity-production. But how does the matter stand under capitalist production?”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm

Quote:
“Here, therefore, firstly commodity, in which the contradiction between exchange-value and use-value exists, becomes mere product (use-value) and therefore the exchange of commodities is transformed into mere barter of products, of simple use-values. This is a return not only to the time before capitalist production, but even to the time before there was simple commodity production; and the most complicated phenomenon of capitalist production.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1863/theories-surplus-value/ch17.htm

From my own take on value.

There is considerable confusion as to what is meant by Karl’s labour theory of value and value. Fortunately however the ‘simple’ understanding of it is in fact the correct one and the complex one incorrect.

Or as Fred put it;

Quote:
“took more trouble to understand it wrongly than was necessary to understand it correctly”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/supp.htm#intro

The value of something is just the amount of time or human effort it requires to make it.

(The ‘socially necessary’ thing and the ‘to reproduce it’ stuff in the full definition is just to exclude the daft stuff of spending more time making stuff than is necessary and original works of art etc)

It is important at this stage not to rush ahead and to keep just that idea for the moment.

If value just has this meaning of the ‘amount of time or human effort it requires to make it’ then it would be possible to have value when there was no buying or selling or even bartering. You could even have value in a society of one person who made his own stuff for himself. Quite.

Volume one, chapter one ,SECTION 4, THE FETISHISM OF COMMODITIES, AND THE SECRET THEREOF

Quote:
"Since Robinson Crusoe's experiences are a favourite theme with
political economists,[30] let us take a look at him on his island.
Moderate though he be, yet some few wants he has to satisfy, and
must therefore do a little useful work of various sorts, such as
making tools and furniture, taming goats, fishing and hunting. Of
his prayers and the like we take no account, since they are a source
of pleasure to him, and he looks upon them as so much recreation. In
spite of the variety of his work, he knows that his labour, whatever
its form, is but the activity of one and the same Robinson, and
consequently, that it consists of nothing but different modes of
human labour. Necessity itself compels him to apportion his time
accurately between his different kinds of work.

Whether one kind occupies a greater space in his general activity than another,
depends on the difficulties, greater or less as the case may be, to
be overcome in attaining the useful effect aimed at. This our friend
Robinson soon learns by experience, and having rescued a watch,
ledger, and pen and ink from the wreck, commences, like a true-born
Briton, to keep a set of books.

His stock-book contains a list of the objects of utility that belong to him, of the operations necessary for their production; and lastly, of the labour time that
definite quantities of those objects have, on an average, cost him.
All the relations between Robinson and the objects that form this
wealth of his own creation, are here so simple and clear as to be
intelligible without exertion, even to Mr. Sedley Taylor. And yet
those relations contain all that is essential to the determination
of value."

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm

So what does this value actually mean to Robinson Crusoe? It is quite simple really, if his hut, which contains stuff that he can reproduce, catches fire or something he is going to salvage stuff according to how long it is going to take him to make them again or reproduce them, their value.

Even in a moneyless ‘communist’ society of free access etc the original fundamental concept of value would remain;

Quote:
“As long ago as 1844 I stated that the above-mentioned balancing of useful effects and expenditure of labour on making decisions concerning production was all that would be left, in a communist society, of the politico-economic concept of value. (Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, p. 95) The scientific justification for this statement, however, as can be seen, was made possible only by Marx's Capital.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/notes.htm#n*15

Again there is nothing particularly complicated about this, all it means is that in communism, or whatever you want to call it, we wont be using diamonds to adorn our bodies as they would ‘cost too much’ in human effort or would have too high a value.

What Fred meant about communism in 1844 is best given by the following;

Quote:
“The Teutons are all still very muddled about the practicability of communism; to dispose of this absurdity I intend to write a short pamphlet showing that communism has already been put into practice and describing in popular terms how this is at present being done in England and America. [12] The thing will take me three days or so, and should prove very enlightening for these fellows. I’ve already observed this.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/letters/44_10_01.htm

From which he produced, Description of Recently Founded Communist Colonies Still in Existence;

The section on the Shakers is well worth a read I think;

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/10/15.htm

Fred was well ahead of Karl on economics and the labour theory of value in 1844 by the way, which predated Karl


Quote:
18. The celebrated Franklin, one of the first economists, after Wm. Petty, who saw through the nature of value, says: “Trade in general being nothing else but the exchange of labour for labour, the value of all things is ... most justly measured by labour.” (“The works of B. Franklin, &c.,” edited by Sparks. Boston, 1836, Vol. II., p. 267.) “

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#18

So to take the following statement and what it means;

Quote:
“Therefore, first: the valid exchange values of a given commodity express something equal; secondly, exchange value, generally, is only the mode of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it. “

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm

What we see in capitalism by and as a result of a process that is not immediately obvious or transparent is that a table costs £1 or in old money one ounce of gold.

So it appears or seems that the value of a table is one ounce of gold or £1.

But it isn’t, the value of the table and the one ounce of gold is something different lets say 10 hours of labour it is only because they both have the same value that they exchange with each other in those proportions.

The gold is just being used as a standard measure of value.

Quote:
“Throughout this work, I assume, for the sake of simplicity, gold as the money-commodity.

The first chief function of money is to supply commodities with the material for the expression of their values, or to represent their values as magnitudes of the same denomination, qualitatively equal, and quantitatively comparable. It thus serves as a universal measure of value. And only by virtue of this function does gold, the equivalent commodity par excellence, become money.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch03.htm

It is much more difficult for us to understand this idea now as we have paper money that does not have any value.

But to illustrate the point using a thought experiment and picking up on an analogy to explain the real meaning of value that Karl used, weight.

One could speculate what might happen if we set up a human colony of
a sufficiently large number on Mars or something. The inhabitants
would only be allowed a certain weight ration of commodities that
may be delivered on a periodic basis.

Assuming that it might cost thousands of times more to transport a
commodity to Mars than it cost to produce on Earth. And what it cost
to take put a Kg gold bar on Mars was almost identical to what it
cost to put a Kg of water on Mars.

So in this comparative situation the value of things would now depend on something else, weight , and on Mars a kilogram of gold would be worth the same as a kilogram or litre of water

In this situation they may also decide to have paper money on Mars, it would make sense as it would be lighter, and one Kilogram of water may buy and sell for a piece of paper with 1Kg written on it. But that wouldn’t make the piece of paper have a weight of I Kg. They may even decide to call a 1Kg note a $1. And after the pricing system became a commonly conceived convention and that a litre of water just cost $1 who knows they might begin to loose sight of why one thing was worth more than another.

However even here on capitalist earth the guy in the pub, who understands the labour theory of value better than he thinks, after a little bit of thought could work out why the Titanic costs more than a bottle of beer. Or having a vague idea of how much labour it takes to plaster a wall whether or not he is being ripped off or not.

So to return to Karl’s weight analogy with some background first;

Sugar used to come in big solid blocks in Karl's time and were
called sugar-loaves. When he is talking about iron here he is
talking about iron weights and a scale to measure the weight of the
sugar. In this sense the iron weights are behaving like gold money.
So `the iron officiates as a body representing nothing but weight'
just as gold money officiates as a body representing nothing but
value. So gold money is value only in the same sense as a block of
iron is a kilogram.

Anyway;

3. The Equivalent form of value

Quote:
"One of the measures that we apply to commodities as material
substances, as use values, will serve to illustrate this point. A
sugar-loaf being a body, is heavy, and therefore has weight: but we
can neither see nor touch this weight. We then take various pieces
of iron, whose weight has been determined beforehand. The iron, as
iron, is no more the form of manifestation of weight, than is the
sugar-loaf."

Just as gold as gold, is no more the form or manifestation of value,
than is sugar.

"Nevertheless, in order to express the sugar-loaf as so much weight,
we put it into a weight-relation with the iron. In this relation,
the iron officiates as a body representing nothing but weight. A
certain quantity of iron therefore serves as the measure of the
weight of the sugar, and represents, in relation to the sugar-loaf,
weight embodied, the form of manifestation of weight.

This part is played by the iron only within this relation, into
which the sugar or any other body, whose weight has to be
determined, enters with the iron. Were they not both heavy, they
could not enter into this relation, and the one could therefore not
serve as the expression of the weight of the other. When we throw
both into the scales, we see in reality, that as weight they are
both the same, and that, therefore, when taken in proper
proportions, they have the same weight. Just as the substance iron,
as a measure of weight, represents in relation to the sugar-loaf
weight alone, so, in our expression of value, the material object,
coat, in relation to the linen, represents value alone.

Here, however, the analogy ceases. The iron, in the expression of
the weight of the sugar-loaf, represents a natural property common
to both bodies, namely their weight; but the coat, in the expression
of value of the linen, represents a non-natural property of both,
something purely social, namely, their value."

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm

In Das Capital they pretty skipped over and avoided the subject of inconvertible paper money;

[

Quote:
Inconvertible paper money is not considered here at all; inconvertible bank-notes can become a universal medium of circulation only where they are actually backed by state credit, as is the case in Russia at present. They then fall under the laws of inconvertible paper money issued by the state, which have already been developed in Book I (Ch. III, 2, c) "Coin and Symbols of Value." — F.E.]

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch33.htm

As Karl did in in Book I (Ch. III, 2, c) "Coin and Symbols of Value."

Although Karl did discuss it in more depth elsewhere;

Karl Marx: Critique of Political Economy, c. Coins and Tokens of Value

Quote:
“Let us assume that £14 million is the amount of gold required for the circulation of commodities and that the State throws 210 million notes each called £1 into circulation: these 210 million would then stand for a total of gold worth £14 million. The effect would be the same as if the notes issued by the State were to represent a metal whose value was one-fifteenth that of gold or that each note was intended to represent one-fifteenth of the previous weight of gold. This would have changed nothing but the nomenclature of the standard of prices, which is of course purely conventional, quite irrespective of whether it was brought about directly by a change in the monetary standard or indirectly by an increase in the number of paper notes issued in accordance with a new lower standard.

As the name pound sterling would now indicate one-fifteenth of the previous quantity of gold, all commodity-prices would be fifteen times higher and 210 million pound notes would now be indeed just as necessary as 14 million had previously been. The decrease in the quantity of gold which each individual token of value represented would be proportional to the increased aggregate value of these tokens. The rise of prices would be merely a reaction of the process of circulation, which forcibly placed the tokens of value on a par with the quantity of gold which they are supposed to replace in the sphere of circulation.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/ch02_2c.htm

Quote:
"When news of Milton Friedman's death at 94 swept the National Post
newsroom yesterday, some of the younger journalists were surprised
to learn the Nobel economist had been responsible for the theory
that inflation results from too much (fiat or token )money chasing
too few goods. The idea seems so self-evident today that it's hard
to believe that any other theory of inflation could have existed."

Indeed!

mikus
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Joined: 18-07-06
Aug 23 2008 16:28

Dave B, that was a very long post and I can't reply to everything it it but I will just take issue with two things that you wrote:

Marx actually never used the term "simple commodity-production" (at least as far as I know; it is possible that he used the term somewhere that no one has yet identified).

In the first quote you give in which Marx seems to use the term, the paragraph is actually inserted into the text by Engels as editor of Vol. 3 of Capital. So it is not actually Marx's writing.

In the second quote you give, the German is apparently not equivalent to "simple commodity production" but rather translates to "pure commodity production."

(Both of those quotes are addressed in this essay by Chris Arthur. I am not generally fan of Chris Arthur, but that essay at least has some decent scholarship in it.)

This may seem nitpicky to some people but I think the point is that in the economic theories of many Marxists, there is a reference to some sort of stage called "simple commodity production", in which all or most products of labor are exchanged as commodities, yet there is no separation of producers from the means of production. (I.e. the society is not a class society but a society of independent producers.) When Marx refers to "pure commodity production" he is rather referring to the idea that commodities are produced, although not by capitalist enterprises. There is no implication that all or most products of labor are commodities.

In fact, the one time Marx mentions the form of society in which all or most products are exchanged as commodities, he says that this happens for the first time only in capitalist society:

"Definite historical conditions are necessary that a product may become a commodity. It must not be produced as the immediate means of subsistence of the producer himself. Had we gone further, and inquired under what circumstances all, or even the majority of products take the form of commodities, we should have found that this can only happen with production of a very specific kind, capitalist production. Such an inquiry, however, would have been foreign to the analysis of commodities. Production and circulation of commodities can take place, although the great mass of the objects produced are intended for the immediate requirements of their producers, are not turned into commodities, and consequently social production is not yet by a long way dominated in its length and breadth by exchange-value. " (In Ch. 6 of Capital)

In other words, commodities exist in many different societies. But it is not until capitalist society that "all, or even the majority of products take the form of commodities."

(Just to clarify, you probably agree with this, but I wanted to put it out there because this discussion actually came up about a month ago in a thread that I never got the chance to reply to.)

As for the issue of value in a communist society, Marx is quite clear that value (in the economic sense) will not exist in a communist society. In all of the quotes you provide, Marx says simply that labor-time, which is a determinant of value but not identical to value, will exist in a communist society, and it will still be important to allocate it efficiently. This is different than saying that value will exist in a communist society. Value, for Marx, is a regulator of price, and it would therefore make no sense to say that in a communist society (without commodities and hence without prices) value would continue to exist.

In Capital, at the end of Ch. 1, where Marx describes a hypothetical communist society (although he does not use the word "communist"), he mentions labor-time allocation and even says that in this hypothetical society labor-time will regulate the proportion of the total social product an individual will be allowed to consume. (This is simply because of the thought exercise, not a characteristic of how a communist society must be: "We will assume, but merely for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities, that the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time." My emphasis.) But he nowhere says that value still exists in this hypothetical society.

And in The Critique of the Gotha Programme, we get a statement as explicit as we are likely to find:

"Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor." (emphasis mine)

You have mistakenly stated that value would exist in a communist society because you have confused what Marx called "the ground-work for the quantitative determination of value" (i.e. labor-time) with value itself.

mikus
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Joined: 18-07-06
Aug 23 2008 16:39
mikus wrote:
The labor theory of value is not a theory of why people "value" things in the sense that you are speaking of. It doesn't say that you "value" food because it took labor-time to produce it, nor even that you "value" food because it takes "socially necessary labor time" to produce it. It is a theory of what regulates prices in capitalism. The answer it gives is socially necessary labor-time. (The exact way in which price is regulated by value was different depending on which economist you asked.)

This is an entirely different issue than the one you keep referring to, which isn't an economic issue but a normative one.

I should qualify my previous post (quoted above). For some economists (Marx being one of them) "value" was not a normative category but rather an economic one, a description (whether correct or incorrect) of how capitalist society actually functions, not how it should function.

There is no doubt that other economists used the labor theory of value as a normative theory of how goods should be valued (from my understanding, this was true of Benjamin Franklin, Proudhon, the Ricardian socialists, and I'm sure many others).

The issues are still entirely distinct.

Dave B
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Joined: 3-08-08
Aug 23 2008 20:05

You Said;

Quote:
You have mistakenly stated that value would exist in a communist society because you have confused what Marx called "the ground-work for the quantitative determination of value" (i.e. labor-time) with value itself.

Well so did Karl then, as well as Fred,

Quote:
"Secondly, after the abolition of the capitalist mode of production,
but still retaining social production, the determination of value
continues to prevail in the sense that the regulation of labour-time
and the distribution of social labour among the various production
groups, ultimately the book-keeping encompassing all this, become
more essential than ever."

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch49.htm

Or in other words working out the least labour intensive (‘cheapest’ in terms of labour time and thus value) way of producing things.

That is not to say that a moneyless communist society would be obliged to produce things in the least labour intensive way.

But Fred correctly recognised that there was a nuanced difference between value in a communist society without exchange or buying and selling and value in capitalism in the chapter in Anti-Duhring and hence used value in italics.

From a consumption point of view, value in a free access moneyless socialism would be a description of the amount of effort that had gone into making something. Something that would be quite important for the potential user in deciding whether or not to consume it, and whether their need or use for it justified what it took to make it or its value (in italics if you like).

To take an extreme example, even if we produced diamonds nobody would consume them as they would be obscenely expensive even if they were free.

Providing that we knew their value that is, otherwise you might want to just give them to the kids to play with.

mikus
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Joined: 18-07-06
Aug 23 2008 20:28

Your quote does not support your argument. In a communist society, "the determination of value continues to prevail in the sense that the regulation of labour-time... becomes more essential than ever." Yes, in the sense that the regulation of labour-time remains essential. This is distinct from value. Accounting for labor-time has always been done, to some degree, in every society.

If your interpretation of Marx were correct, then we'd expect him to say not that the determination of value (i.e. labor-time) still prevails in that specific "sense" (through keeping track of labor-time in bookkeeping), but rather that value continues to prevail tout court. He said the former, and not the latter, and although not entirely incompatible with your interpretation, is nevertheless awkward is Marx meant what you think he meant.

So again, the quote you provided refers to the determinant of value, which is labor-time, and not to value itself.

And you didn't respond to the quote from the Critique of the Gotha Programme. My interpretation of Marx is compatible with both quotes, whereas yours is compatible with only one, at best (even there it is rather strange). Which suggests that my interpretation is closer to what Marx had in mind.

And even more than the isolated quotes, your interpretation goes against the whole train of thought which Marx developed in Capital. In Capital, value is the term for the common element that regulates exchange-values. That is what value means. (We later discover, through analysis, that this value is actually human labor.) If exchange-values don't exist in a communist society (and unless you expect commodities to exist, then they don't), then it makes no sense to say that value exists in a communist society.