re-law of value & socialism

Michael Luftmensch MLuftmensch at
Sat Oct 12 17:41:34 MDT 1996

re-law of value & socialism

Hello Chris - I did remark a few months ago that I understand
the marxist analysis of capitalism to be one in which capitalism
is viewed as both the best thing that ever happened to
humanity *and* the worst - and that the tension between
the two seemed to be absent in your discussion of the Law of Value.

If my tone was belligerent, I would like to apologise. However,
when you pose the question: "Why do our fellow workers
like to be consumers of commodities?" I feel compelled - again -
to ask whether our feelings are really that clear cut?!

The law of value came up in the course of the discussion
about the Cultural Revolution. I objected to your reduction
of the economic programme of the Cultural Revolution to
volunteerism (pace Gina). Although Stahknovite labour
emulation was clearly one aspect of the CR, those practices,
I suggested, ought to be seen within the larger context of
*self-reliance* or delinking  - submitting external relations
to the logic of internal development (the opposite of the structural
 adjustment  to the demands of the polarizing
worldwide expansion of capital).

Capitalist commodity production, you told Gina, is
revolutionary in repeatedly reducing the labour
content of use values.

Yet due to the differences in the value of commodities
and productivity between peripheral and metropolitan
countries, the law of value compels the former to specialize
on the world market in a manner that's disadvantageous to their
development, increasing polarization both domestically and

Undernourishment, export crops that cater to the needs of
the metropolitan countries rather than the local populations,
increasing unemployment and underemployment, tremendous
waste of productive resources, ecological mismanagement -
the negative consequences are manifold. However, you did not
seem to be taking them into account in your application of the
law of value to the economic policies pursued during the
Cultural Revolution. Hence, my protest.


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