[OPE-L:5825] [Fwd: Re: Re: commodities, money, and value]

Paul Cockshott (wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 14:40:40 +0000

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Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 14:28:10 +0000
From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk>
Organization: Hardlab
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To: Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu>
Subject: [OPE-L:5825] Re: Re: commodities, money, and value
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> > Since value is a precondition of exchange value, if one restricts ones
> > attention to things that already have
> > exchange value one fails to consider the other categories of interest
> > 1. things which have no value and hence can not become commodities
> > 2. things which have value, but which do not become commodities
> > because they are produced under non-capitalist social
> > relations
> Prior to, during, or following capitalism?
All three. If you conflate value with exchange value you have
a hard job analysing communist elements within capitalist
social formations such as the National Health Service here.

> > > Without money, what is there to measure?
> > Social labour time.
> Time can be measure with a "stopwatch", as Andrew K has said before. The
> category of "social labour time", though, requires that the labour be
> SNLT. For the labour to be socially-necessary under capitalism it must
> also have use-value and the value-form. Money is thus a unique way of
> measuring value under capitalism -- rather than the trans-historical
> category of time.
No, money is not a unique way of measuring value under capitalism,
it is the common way of measuring value under all commodity producing
modes of production.

To say that for labour to be socially-necessary under capitalism it
must have the value form is also confusing, do you mean the labour
must have the value form ( be wage labour ) or its product must have
the value form ( be a commodity ).

What do you mean then by 'under capitalism'?

Does the process of cooking a meal at home in the US of A take place
'under capitalism'. We would conventionally deem America to be
capitalist, yet there is no doubt that without the domestic labour
of cooking the society would collapse within a week from hunger.
The product of this labour is not a commodity nor is the labour
that performs it, except in the homes of the rich, wage labour.

> Yes, there will be social labour time under socialist and communism (if we
> ever get there), but the understanding of what social labour time is will
> itself change (I anticipate).
But you object to any attempt to improve our understanding of what
labour time is now!

> > Why are we, as critics of capitalism supposed to restrict our conceptual
> > view to its narrow horizons.
> In the first instance, we attempt to understand social reality in thought.
> For us, capitalism is reality. It is therefore our first task to
> understand that reality (so that we can then change that reality). Thus,
> understanding how there is the movement from M to M' is not an example of
> "narrow horizons."

I would say that these are narrow and particularly American horizons.
Socialism and the allocation of social labour under socialism have been
live political issues on other continents for most of this century.

> > If you take this view you will never be able to understand socialist
> > economic relations.
> I don't see how.
Because it leaves you with no theoretical tools to address the problems
of socialist political economy. Do away with exchange value and the view
of political economy that bases itself entirely on commodity categories
becomes completely bereft of theoretical tools. It is left with no means
of making sensible policy statements.