what is labour and what is value

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at econ.utah.edu
Mon Oct 31 12:22:28 MST 1994


  Doug asks:

   Aside from the theoretical points, is there any practical political
   importance to the value controversy?

  My answer:

  Yes, or course there is.

  Alone on the ideological level.
  Some people have lots of money, and some have very little.

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  From a neoclassical point of view, those with lots of money
  From a neoclassical point of view, those with lots of money
  have this money because they have increased the level of utility
  of many other people;  they deserve therefore what they have,
  their income is society's reward for their services.
  If money is labor, however, then the question arises how
  these people have the command over so much of society's labor.
  This is a question about which there is a strict taboo in
  our society.  You are not supposed to think the obvious.
  This is why the first pages of CAPITAL seem so hard to understand.

  The question whether or not a precise value accounting can be done
  in which every penny of profit by a capitalist can in principle be
  traced back to a second of surplus labor elsewhere in society
  also has implications for the question whether value is real.
  Is value a social reality which has independent causative powers,
  or is value a paradigm which organizes our thinking about complex
  social-economic realitits, as Laibman wrote on p. 25 of his book
  Value, Technical Change, and Crisis, Sharpe 1992?  I consider value to
  be as real as a shark.  it does more than organize our thinking,
  it organizes society, it subjects material production to its own
  thirst for self-espansion.  But it cannot be real if its quantity
  is for logical reasons not clearly definable.

  By the way, Justin asked me to give a substantive rundown
  of the New Solution;  I will do that as soon as I find the time.




Hans G. Ehrbar                                    ehrbar at econ.utah.edu
Economics Department, 308 BuC                     (801) 581 7797
University of Utah                                (801) 581 7481
Salt Lake City    UT 84112-1107                   (801) 585 5649 (FAX)


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