[Marxism] Mark J. on the law of value - Wrong Again.

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Mon Jun 7 09:53:02 MDT 2004


>For it is not me but these techno-optimists, you panglossians, who produce 
smooth-sounding but suspiciously-vague formulae about how good things will be 
'under socialism' while missing out the central issue of how you get things 
done, how, that is, you coerce people to do stuff when there is no Law of Value, 
no free labour market, capital market etc, to allocate factors of production. 
When, in fact, you are planning to override the Law of Value and put it into 
reverse. The Law of Value is a curse which oppresses capitalists with its
draconic logic as well as oppressing workers, but it works and people buy
into it because they get more goods on the shelves and more personal freedom 
than from any other system. David Walters is claiming (I would say this claim 
is pure pretence) that 'under socialism' factors of production would be 
allocated better and goods, including energy, would be more freely available. There 
is no evidence whatever to support this claim, either historically or 
theoretically, and a great deal of theoretical and empirical
evidence to show the opposite.<
 
Comment
 
"Mark Jones on the law of value" is wrong from every standpoint. This will be 
proven. 

Mark formulations in response to David Walters are incorrect from the 
standpoint of theoretical political economy. If political economy studies the law 
systems peculiar to various modes of production and distribution is it possible 
to abolish the law of value? 
 
The discussion between Mark J and David Walters expresses a profound 
misunderstanding of elementary political economy by Mr. Walters. A misunderstanding of 
the industrial system and the political form of property is also apparent. 
The role of the Soviet State was as property holder or in standard English 
ownership rights. Apparently this is not obvious. What is meant by ownership rights 
under the political form of property called socialism is that nothing other 
than items of consumption can pass into the hands of individuals no matter how 
much they labor or the magnitude of money accumulation. Socialism is not and 
was not an economic system or mode of production. Socialism is a political form 
of property. 
 
Mark J. responds to a radical misunderstanding with a misunderstanding. The 
issue is in fact posed incorrectly. To reply to an assertion stating:
 
"how you get things done, how, that is, you coerce people to do stuff when 
there is no Law of Value, no free labour market, capital market etc, to allocate 
factors of production. When,
in fact, you are planning to override the Law of Value and put it into 
reverse"
 
is incorrect because Marx states that the form of the law of value remains in 
effect on the basis of a change in property relations.  Marx further states 
in "The Grundrisse" - under the section 1. Capitalism, Alienation and 
Communism, that a change in the political form of property does in fact change 
distribution or as it is called in Mark J. response, "allocation." 
 
Karl Marx unravel a totality and when he speaks of distribution or 
allocation, it is not a concept abstracted from (re)production. As Engels was fond of 
stating one can only distribute that, which has been produced. What is produced 
was unraveled by Marx from the standpoint of the origin of need. "Need" itself 
was unraveled by Marx and he draws a division between human needs and those 
needs created as forms of property - ownership rights, or the peculiar way in 
which new needs as commodities, unique to bourgeois production are created as 
the basis of its self reproduction. 
 
Mark confuses socialism - a political form of property during the transition 
from bourgeois production to communism, with Soviet socialism. This very 
important distinction is not acknowledged by the intellectuals in the imperial 
centers, who have suffered from a steady diet of sixty years of anti-Sovietism. 

Mark states the following in response to the erroneous arguments of Walters: 
 
>We have to accept that important theoretical proofs, and a mass of empirical 
and
historical evidence, proves the opposite, namely that socialism both in
theory and in practice is bound to be a less efficient, less profitable 
allocatur of resources than capitalism.<
 
This statement borders on the absurd, but would have contained a particle of 
truth if Mark J. had talked about the evolution of Soviet industrial society 
without bourgeois property relations. When we speak of the bourgeois property 
relations we are talking about Africa and the rest of the world that served as 
the material reserve for the emergence and evolution of the industrial system 
with the bourgeois property relations within. To reduce capitalism to the 
imperial centers or more specifically the evolution of cooperation within the 
factory system of say America is to slide into chauvinism. 
 
Read again what was written: "socialism . . . in theory is less efficient, 
than capitalism" or "socialism in practice is bound to be a less . . . 
profitable allocator (distributor) of resources than capitalism." 
 
This is a tragic statement that Mark J. probably would have been rewritten to 
better express a specific quantitative and qualitative state of development 
of the industrial system in the Soviet Union verses America or England. 
 
THEORETICAL POLITICAL ECONOMY
 
This thread would be more interesting if called "Mark Jones on Soviet 
Industrial Development" or "Soviet Industrial Socialism" because we are not really 
talking about the operation of the law of value in the Soviet Union or in its 
connection within the world market. 
 
What is value? Value is the amount of socially necessary labor in 
commodities. The law of value means that equal amounts of labor in commodities 
establishes the bottom line basis for the exchange of commodities. No one in their right 
mind would exchange an ashtray used for putting out cigarettes for an 
automobile because they represents different amounts - magnitudes, of labor or labor 
time and a different mass of dead labor - machinery, in the process of 
production. 
 
Money expresses value. Your ashtray will get you say one dollar in the market 
in the act of exchange. Your automobile will get you $20,000 in exchange. No 
one exchanges $1 for $20,000. What is being stated is that expended labor time 
is the basis for exchange and this exchange of products is represented by 
money because that is how it happens. Human beings have a historically evolved 
sense and perception of value as it arose in our productive lives. 
 
In any society where products are exchanged we called these products 
commodities and in a society where products exchange dominates our productive and 
social life we say "the commodity form" is king or reigns supreme. The law of 
value means that equal amounts of labor in commodities established the bottom line 
basis for the exchange of commodities and money is the medium for this 
exchange. 
 
The amount of money we pay for a commodity is called its price or the price 
form. Prices can rise or fall and go all over the place depending on things 
like supply and demand and how bad and how much you are willing to pay. Prices 
tend to fall when things are mass produced, plentiful and the labor content or 
value heads towards zero and not away from zero. 
 
The law of value deals with the amount of socially necessary labor in 
commodities and I must bluntly ask, how does this compels a mass of human being to go 
to work for someone else? How can an economic law of equivalents compel a 
person to labor for another? This is not an abstract question of "mediation" but 
a political proposition dealing with coercion. 
 
Let's examine what was stated: 
 
"how, that is, you coerce people to do stuff when there is no Law of Value, 
no free labour market, capital market etc, to allocate factors of production." 
 
How in God's name can an economic law of equivalents allocate - distribute, 
resources and compel someone to work? Something else dealing with reproduction 
and property governs distribution, not the law of value. 
 
What compels human beings to go to work is that they have no means to enter 
exchange except by selling their labor power to someone or an institution that 
can put it to work for money. Marx wrote an inordinate amount of materialism 
on the historic process where the producer is separated from his means of 
production. 

The mass of humanity own no means of production or tools and machinery to 
allow them to work for themselves or produce their needs and this is self 
evident. Ownership of property by an individual, section of society or the state 
itself compels human being to go to work and here is the coercion. The state 
authority enforces this property relations which must not be confused with a law of 
political economy. 
 
Socialism is a political form of property ownership where the workers own the 
means of production and in the Soviet Union the holder of this common 
industrial property (equipment, tools, machinery, factories, mines, resources and 
distribution network) was the State itself. 

The state cannot abolish the law of value, although it can restrict its 
operation by setting prices. The law of value remains even when its price form is 
suppressed or altered. Ask the descendants of the Soviet peasantry if the law 
of value was abolished. They will tell you. "Hell No! Such an act is 
impossible. We could not get the price form - money for exchange of industrial goods, of 
what we know was the value of our laboring and stopped working in many 
instances." 

Price is not value and this has been argued since the time of Marx. 
 
What compels human beings to work is ownership of property and not the law of 
value as a coercive force in human society. The state enforces the ownership 
rights. Not only is the questions posed incorrectly concerning reproduction 
and distribution but the entry level understanding of Marxist political economy 
is violated. 

Value is the amount of socially necessary labor in commodities. The law of 
value means that equal amounts of labor in commodities is the bottom line basis 
for the exchange of commodities.
 
Mark J. talks about a "free labour market" and in America everyone knows the 
meaning of "free labour market." "Free labour market" means you are not a 
chattel slave and in fact are free to sell your labor power to anyone willing to 
buy it - pay you money to work. 
 
Look at what was written again: 
 
"how, that is, you coerce people to do stuff when there is no Law of Value, 
no free labour market, capital market etc, to allocate factors of production." 
 
"how, that is, you coerce people to do stuff when there is no  . . . capital 
market etc, to allocate factors of production." 
 
This is all wrong. What coerce people to work is not the mechanism use to 
distribute (allocate) resources but them having no other way to survive except by 
being able to exchange their labor for money to purchase things they need, or 
as it is called, to sell their labor power. The law of value is not the 
coercion.  
 
I maintain that all the question presented are posed incorrectly and violate 
elementary Marxist political economy, with a heavy tinge of anti-Sovietism. 

There is also contained in this particular reply by Mark J. a radically 
different conception of Socialism as a political form of property relations 
inconsistent with what Marx actually wrote. The law of value is totally 
misunderstand. 
 
 
Melvin P. 




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