hayek (2)

jones-bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Mon Oct 10 19:35:06 MDT 1994


In thinking about Chris' Hayekian challenge to Marxism, I have been
reminded of Marx's sardonic comments:

The same bourgeois consciousness which celebrates the division of labor in
the workshop, the lifelong annexation of the worker to a partial operation,
and his complete subjection to capital, as an organization of labor that
increases its productive power, denounces with equal vigor every conscious
attempt to control and regulate the process of production socially, as an
inroad upon such sacred things as the rights of property, freedom and the
self-determining 'genius' of the individual capitalist.  It is very
characteristic that the enthusiastic apologists of the factory system have
nothing more damning to urge against a general organization of labour in
society than that it would turn the whole of society into a factory.
Capital, vol I, pg. 477 (Vintage ed.)

However, Chris' challenge has not for the most part invoked "such sacred
things" but rather attacked the epistemological assumptions of any
"conscious attempt to control and regulate the process of production
socially."  In a previous post, I tried to suggest that Chris seems to have
assumed that the price function can play, in lieu of conscious social
control, the  regulatory function the necessity of which "every child
knows"--"that the masses of products corresponding to the different needs
require different and quantitatively determined masses of the total labor
of society" and "that this necessity of the distribution of social labor in
definite proportions cannot possibly be done away with by a particular form
of social production but can only change the mode of its appearance..."
(Marx to Kugelmann, 7/11/68)

Drawing upon Laclau and Mouffe, Philip has suggested that any attempt at
the conscious distribution of social labor (including of course the
relationship between necessary and surplus labor which too cannot be done
away with) is the  legacy of Englightment optimism that easily degenerates
into totalitarianism. In Philip's argument, there is thus an implicit
connection between Enlightment optimism and various 20the century attempts
at state capitalist control of the economy.  Again the tenability of this
connection has not been proven.

Both Chris' and Philip's arguments are quite interesting; I look forward to
trying to engage them.

jb



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