CHRIS & Maoist economics

Rubyg580 at Rubyg580 at
Thu May 9 17:47:48 MDT 1996

In a message dated 96-05-07 17:00:22 EDT, you write:

>The key challenge to IMO clear and valuable proponents of the
>economics of the Cultural Revolution, like Gina, is this.
>Capitalist commodity production, even more dominant on a global scale
>than when the Manifesto was written in 1848, is revolutionary in
>repeatedly reducing the labour content of use values. It has a motor
>driving continual increases in productivity.
>What I called
>maoist economics does not economise on labour power. It praises its
>expenditure to the point of exhaustion. That is an economic policy
>that cannot be sustained for more than a few years, and can be
>criticised on these grounds alone, quite independently of whether
>you say it was a privileged class, or stratum imposing this on
>people, or whether you accept that people themselves wanted for
>a time to "go all out".

You're right in observing that the main point of Maoist economics is not
to economise on labor power; it is to do away with commodity production
itself.  Commodity production is the hallmark of capitalist production:
EVERYTHING in capitalist society can be turned into a commodity, even
the most personal and intimate aspects of our lives, as in sexual expression.

It's not that Maoist economics seeks to intensify labor power or to reverse
the reduction of labor power embodied in use values--it's just that that's
not the most important thing.  The production of the use values themselves
is taken as the starting point:  If the people need it, we need to find a way

to produce it, even if we don't at present have the means to produce it
in the most economical fashion.

What you have in imperialist society is that no matter how needed
something may be for the masses of people: health care, education,
environmental protection, better birth control methods, nutritious food,
you name it, it WON'T be produced unless some capitalist can sell it
as a commodity for a profit.

In Maoist society, just the opposite is true: while there are still some
limitations on what can be produced due to the restrictions of commodity
production, which is still the norm, if something is NEEDED by the
masses, some way will be found to produce it, even if the production
techniques are not the most efficient; even if it makes no sense from
a commodity production point of view.

So that's the key to understanding this whole quesiton of Maoist
economics:  The whole point is to do away with commodity production
altogether, and return to "natural" production for use, in the future
communist society.  The transition from here to there involves years
of development during which commodity production, essentially
capitalist production, continues to exist, and its advocates contend
with the advocates of non-commodity production, of socialist production,
over which will be dominant and which is the thing to aim for.

Hugh Rodwell made this comment in a recent post, and I have to
thoroughly agree:

>Capitalism is a transitory mode of production. For most of humanity's
>history it didn't exist. For most of humanity's future it won't exist. It
>is therefore quite counterproductive to use capitalist concepts as if they
>were timeless economic principles.Marx certainly doesn't, and in fact
>continually warns against doing so.


     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list