Paul Cockshott wpc at
Tue Jul 25 09:46:08 MDT 1995


And I think that Marx explains how the self expansion of capital is
possible on the basis of the duality of labor, on the basis of the
reproduction of a duality of abstract labor and concrete labor.  This is
what Rosdolosky emphasizes in his chapter on the Reproduction Schemes

The nature of the contradictions engendered by the self-expansion of
capital is a critical question.  And this brings us back to the various
schools of crisis theory (kaleckian theory being I think a variant of
underconsumptionism), with Postone inagurating a new one, based on the
Grundrisse, which he likens to a shearing process.

Marx certainly shows that the self expansion of aggregate social
capital is possible, and his reproduction schemes here represent
a tremendous advance in being the first mechanism to be invented
for conceptualising a capitalist economy as a whole.

However, one should note that possibility is not necessity. Using
the same mechanism of reproduction schemes one can show that
the self contraction of capital is possible.

I have not read Postone so that I am at a disadvantage in
discussing his ideas with you. I will attempt to see if our
library has anything by him. As to Kalecki, it is probably fair
to categorise him as an underconsumptionist, but I think that
for the clarity, simplicity and elegance of his theory he is
exceptional. Moreover, when one reads his work ( Selected
Essays in the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy, being the
best starting point) one sees that the real causal relations
operating in a capitalist economy can be the inverse of what
one initially assumes. Marx made this point in general about
science, but Kalecki brings out into the open some
very counter intuitive inversions that were stated,
but not emphasised, in Vol II of capital.


I have one question about Paul's analysis of state capitalism:

Is the  economizing of labor time--a datum of planning in a
society--only a conscious application of the law of value.  Is this what
distinguishes socialism: the conscious application of the law of value?
Does value persist under socialist relaion o production, as argued by
Stalin for example.

I presented 3 forms of public property with different conditions
of reproduction. Although I did not label them in my previous post,
I would normally choose to characterise them as:

1. State Capitalism

2. Socialism

3. Communism ( lower phase )

I consider the soviet orthodoxy that identified socialism with the lower
phase of communism to be mistaken.

I think that Stalin was right in saying that value in the sense of
exchange value persists under socialism. (My second example corresponded
to the production relations of soviet socialism.) But Stalin was
unclear as to how the elimination of commodity production and
the law of value were to be achieved in the transition to communism,
though he definitely thought that had to be done.

The sense in which one can speak of a law of value under communism
is rather different. There remains a law of the necessity of the
proportionate and efficient distribution of social labour. It is this
general law, which applies to all modes of production with a
division of labour, that produces among its effects in a capitalist
society the more limited sense of a law of value - the conservation
of embodied labour content in exchange transactions. Under communism
the law of value takes on an un-alienated and unfetishistic form.

My use of the idea of value here is influenced by Athar Hussains
1973 article 'Misreading marx's theory of value: Marx's marginal
notes on Wagner', which appears in 'Value', CSE books 1979.

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