The Metaphysics of Value (was The Geography of Class Struggle)

Bernard J. Goitein bjg at
Sun Jul 30 15:01:52 MDT 1995

On Fri, 14 Jul 1995, Scott Marshall wrote:
Bernie wrote:
> >Actually, the numbers are about a half, at least in the US: my aged 1993
> >statistical US statistical abstract shows for 1989, In billions
> >of US $, corporations' sales totaled 10,440, generating net income of 389.
> >Manufacturing corporations contributed 3276 of the sales, and 181 of the net
> >income. Plus transport, utilities, communications.
> Bernie, what produces the other half? My understanding of finance capital is
> that it 'produces' nothing.

The other half consists of some categories that are easy to
think of as possibly producing value
- professional services (medical, engineering, educational,etc),
- business/nonprofessional services (a mixed
       bag of repair services, daycare services, entertainment.)
- retail/wholesale trade (stores, bars,eating places).

As for financial services- pardon me while I try to propose a value to
the banker!!!   The function they fulfill now (at least for the wealthy) is
identifying investments "worth" making- i.e., they identify those of us
impoosverished but credit worthy, to whom the moneys of the
wealthy might be loaned that are likely to be repaid with interest. And
they identify busniess investments, starved for cash, but likley to
generate cash flow, so that the moneys of the wealthy will be repaid with

After the revolution, we will still have an economy (a term i shall quote
a definition from somewhere to mean "a system to produce and distribute
goods and serices").

(As an aside, and only partly related to this discussion-Will we still
have money after the revolution? And will total sales still be used to
represent total value produced?)

If we still have an economy, we will want to identify more/less "worthy"
projects, where the society's investment will be likely to
generate a return of value (however measured) to us.  So that we can decide
say tuesday to build, transport, install/maintain new equipment at
the steel mill, to put in a new road, resurface a parking lot, to teach
welding techniques, teach organic farming, or to improve the day care
center.  Identifying the projects worth doing is still
a service of value.  The source of the capital invested is no longer the
bourgies, true. But the "financial service" is still needed and
therefore of value.

This reopens another topic- the role of the accountant
(and even of a "market" socialism).  After the revlution, in order to make
these investment choices, we must identify their values.  And hence, we
must somehow assess value (in which accountants have an interest)-not to be
confused with handy accounting software for keeping track of these numerical
values, once assessed/judged/estimated/guessed.

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