[Marxism] Ecological Economics vs The Misevaluation of Value bytheTraditionalists

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 15 17:53:02 MDT 2004


Jurriaan criticizes the viewpoint, by ecological economics, that labor value 
is only a subgrouping within the framwork of what is actually valuable for 
the maintenance of human life.  He calls that notion "not correct in my 
view, and only semi-literate."   But I find that his standard marxist 
viewpoint to be rather 'semi-literate' and incorrect. In essentiality, it 
merely states that if we can't quantify it in dollars and cents, then we 
should just ignore any other concerns as having no value!  But this is 
exactly what is wrong with valuation that continues completely unable to 
factor in negative values into its overall accounting system. And capitalism 
is full of negative value production.  It has to be in accounted for.

Jurriaan again..
<<The real problem is that the concepts of exchange-value and use-value or
utility preference apply only to marketed (traded) goods, and thus that
value in conventional economics can refer only to value from a market point
of view.

However as soon as we extend the notion of value beyond market valuations,
then we must be able to specify and quantify this value relative to other
values. This cannot be done objectively other than by reference to
labor-time, or to prices, and insofar as labor-time is rejected, we are back
with just market valuations.>>

This is confusion, since 'objectively', we have to calculate more than just 
labor time (or prices) to the real overall economic value of what human 
labor is impacting.  Objectively, traditional marxists are just as resistant 
as capitalist economists and businessmen to doing just that.  Both throw up 
their arms in disgust, and shout that we just can't do such things!  What 
about costs?  Costs are everything!  Yeah, but what about costs?  That is 
the response of ecological economics.   You are not taking the real costs 
into consideration.

<<Hence conventional economics excludes ecology other than by imputing 
prices
or taxes to natural resources or "strategic stocks". Insofar as natural
resources cannot however be traded and are non-reproducible (e.g. oceans,
air, ice, wilderness) then imputing a price is useless, and of no
consequence.>>

Oh really, Jurriaan?  Of no consequence, you say?  I find this a 'semi 
literate' viewpoint in today's world.  And surprise!!!!, oceans and ice and 
wilderness are reproducible. You (and conventional economics) are wrong 
about that. They are reproducible over great lengths of time.  But this you 
ignore since human labor plays not the most important part of that!  This 
marxist blind side is what ecological economics seeks to elminate from the 
radical critiques of capitalism that marxism has offered.  It is an 
improvement to do so, not 'semi literacy'.

<<What this means is that what "values" of any sort are dominant, depends
greatly on those social classes which hold power. But that is precisely a
question which has been expelled from economics as a "non-economic"
variable, and that is why Marx considered economics a science distorted by
sectional interests.>>

True.  But Marx and marxism countered capitalist economics with economic 
theory.  And unfortunately, the marxist economic theory was just as unable 
to account for negative values and overall value beyond human/labor cost and 
the dollar as Ricardo and Smith were.   That's why there is a need for a new 
accounting of value like ecological economics is trying to provide.  
Substituting the 'sectional interests' of 'workers' to the 'sectional 
intersts' of capitalists is not enough.

And below is the conclusion of Jurriaan, where I feel that he merely 
disparages the efforts of ecological economics as being 'management science' 
rather that radical economic theory.  But, Jurriaan, the whole problem with 
the USSR, was that marxist economics became reduced to nothing more than 
management science, did it not?  Ecological economics tries to evolve theory 
into accountability beyond that stalinized management science of the 
socialism in power of the past. That cannot be done without incorporating 
other values other than the value of labor into overall accounting.  Nature 
must be given value, no matter how resistant marxism and marxists and 
capitalists and capitalism are to doing just that.

What if Cuba had not done just such things itself?  It would have already 
fallen to the imperialist onslaught.  But instead, with regards to many 
questions, Cuba has incorporated other values into its economy beyond sheer 
measurement of dollars and cents.  It did this in a most pragmatic way, 
without really expanding the radical economic theory of why that was 
something than was more accountable than capitalism would do.

Marxists have given preferentiality to the lower classes as a core marxist 
value lacking under capitalism.  It is almost spiritual, but that is the 
whole value of marxism, is it not?  Marxists hold the disenfranchised to a 
higher value than capitalists do, dollars and cents wise.   But neither 
traditional marxism nor capitalism ses fit to hold preferentiality to 
nature's value.   Both, incorrectly hold that nature is non-reproducible, 
therefore of no consequence!  That makes marxism preposterous.  Yes, maybe 
even 'semi literate'.  Nature has value, produces value, and that value has 
to be accounted for, even if it is hard to do in mere lucre.

Tony Abdo

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