Price mechanisms and social control

Chris Burford cburford at
Fri Sep 22 08:55:31 MDT 1995

Chris S:

	Oh, but the price system WOULD signal it if resources were
privately owned; I know this is anathema to a Marxist.

Chris B:

I find your contributions very stimulating for us Chris, but I think you
are wrong on this point. It is not necessarily anathema.

Marx, Capital Vol 1, Chapter 14, Section 4, 7th paragraph:

"the law of value of commodities ultimately determines how much
of its disposable working-time society can expend on each
particular class of commodities"

Prices mediate this process.

Marx also demonstrated in "Labour Price and Profit" that collective
action by workers really can raise the proportion of the total labour
time of society devoted to producing consumer goods for workers.

Similarly there is no reason why workers should not through
collective action influence how the market is managed
through price mechanisms. The tendency for the private ownership of
the means of production to externalise costs of production in the short
term, can be managed to ensure that these costs are borne now.

I do not see that your disagreement with Doug is fundamental. The
question is whether it need take twenty or thirty years for us to
realise we are dying of pollution. Marxists can make alliances
with greens on this point.

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