[OPE-L:2182] Re: Re: value-form theory and socialism

From: Michael J Williams (michael@williamsmj.screaming.net)
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 08:25:45 EST

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----- Original Message -----
From: Jurriaan Bendien <djjb99@worldonline.nl>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 8:01 PM
Subject: [OPE-L:2156] Re: value-form theory and socialism

> I have a question. Has anybody ever tried to spell out systematically the
> implications of VFT for the transition to, and the construction of, a
> socialist economy ?

Not that I am aware of. For the sake of discussion, here, for what they are
worth are a few ideas that are congruent with *my* take on the VFT of

1. Capitalist exploitation consists not in the mere existence of surplus
labour in the form of surplus-value, but in the capitalistic imperatives
that determine its allocation.

2. It is the dominance of the value-form that generates this exploitation,
and all that goes with it including alienation.

3. Whilst Money and markets seem to be necessary conditions of existence of
the value-form, it is not the case that money and markets will necessarily
tend to re-instate the dominance of the value-form. The knotty question of
socially controlled use of money and markets in a post-capitalist society is
thus not resolved simply by reference to VFT itself.

4. Scientific political economy can 'only' offer a systematic critique of
capitalism. Whilst this can ground speculation about the negative and
positive desiderata of a post-capitalist society at a general level, it
cannot provide a scientific prediction of such a non-existent system. Such
accounts are the purview of 'art' rather than science - and none the worse
for that.

5. The central role of fetishism and alienation in the conditioning of human
agency by value-form determined social structure suggests that it will be
difficult to create the silk purse of socialism without rectifying the pig's
ear that capitalism has made of human nature.

Well, that's put my head far enough above the parapet for now ... .

Comradely greetings,

Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes
fax: 0870 133 1147
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