[Marxism] Law of Value

Shane Mage shmage at pipeline.com
Mon Dec 31 16:00:45 MST 2012

On Dec 31, 2012, at 5:26 PM, Angelus Novus wrote:
> Shane, you're confusing the distribution of social labor, which is  
> indeed a trans-historical necessity, with *value*, which is merely  
> the specific social form that this necessity takes in capitalism.
> All you had to do was finish the quotation from Marx you started  
> with, rather than cutting it off:
> "And the form in which this proportional distribution of labour  
> asserts itself, in a state of society where the interconnection of  
> social labour is manifested in the private exchange of the  
> individual products of labour, is precisely the exchange value of  
> these products."
> If there is no commodity exchange, but rather the allocation of  
> social labor to produce use-values to meet human need, then it is  
> nonsensical to talk about the "law of value" operating.

Only in communist society is the reign of necessity at an end and the  
reign of freedom commencing.  The transitional society--*socialism* as  
analyzed by Marx in "Critique of the Gotha Program,"--"bourgeois  
right" prevails, inherited from capitalism. The market--private  
commodity exchange mediated by money--is therefore integral to  
socialism.  How, without the law of value, without freely bargained  
wages paid to the worker from the proceeds of the production unit, are  
you going to perform "allocation of social labor?" Are workers to be  
drafted like soldiers for tasks assigned by the government and "paid"  
like slaves in use-values chosen by the employer? Are they owners of  
cooperative enterprises sharing the profits of the enterprise (which  
of course requires generalized money and markets)? Are they formally
prohibited from changing jobs (like feudal peasants or the whole  
working class in the heyday of classical Chinese and Russian Stalinism)?

Shane Mage
"The laborer is worthy of his hire" (Y'shua Bar Abbas)


							----original exchange----(fuller Marx quotation)

On Dec 31, 2012, at 10:34 AM, Angelus Novus wrote:
> ...I get the impression that a lot of these folks aren't really  
> interested in reading Marx or Marx's Capital, so they're not  
> interested in conceiving of socialism as the suppression of the law- 
> of-value and the commodity-form...

More reading of Marx would have prevented this garble, for it should  
be impossible for anyone who has read Marx to talk about the  
"suppression of the law of value." This is what Marx says about the  
law of value:

		         "...even if there were no chapter on value in my book, the  
			 of the real relationships which I give would contain the proof and
			 demonstration of the real value-relation...the mass of products
			 corresponding to the different needs requires different and
			 quantitatively determined masses of the total labor of society.
			 That this necessity of distributing social labor in definite  
			 cannot be done away with by the particular form of social  
			 but can only change the form it assumes, is self-evident.  No  
			 laws can be done away with.  What can change, in changing historical
			 circumstances, is the form in which these laws operate.  And the  
			 in which this proportional division of labor operates, in a state of
			 society where the interconnection of social labor is manifested in  
			 private exchange of the individual products of labor, is precisely  
			 exchange-value of these products.  The science consists precisely in
			 working out how the law of value operates."

Since "No natural laws can be done away with," under socialism  
(defined by Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky as the form of society  
transitional between the capitalist mode of production, based on  
capital accumulation and exploitation of labor, and the future  
communist social order, based on universal abundance and universal  
free activity or leisure) the "form in which" the law of value would  
operate has to be  reflective of the contradictory aspects it  
incorporates from its antecedent mode of production and its future  
transcendence of production and labor alike.

Thus socialism, as Marxists should conceive it, necessarily combines  
labor and commodity markets (differing from markets under capitalism  
by being radically egalitarian in the distribution of income and hence  
of effective demand, by doing away with all monopolistic constraints  
on the operation of the law of value, and by explicit and ever  
increasing democratic social determination of the overall quantity of  
resources devoted to investment in ecological repair and in improving  
beneficial technologies) with conscious social determination of  
economic evolution.  The suppression of the law of value was  
adumbrated in literary form ("The ABCs of Communism") under Soviet  
"war communism," though that folly was quickly forgotten and NEP, an  
anticipation of the socialist transition economy, was instituted by  
Lenin and Trotsky.  But then NEP was "sent to the devil" and over the  
next half-century suppression of the law of value was proclaimed  
loudly by such luminaries as Stalin--who was eventually ("Economic  
Problems of Socialism in the USSR") to backtrack in words though not  
in deeds--Mao and Pol Pot. It turned out to combine economic disaster  
with a political and social system combining the worst features of  
capitalism and feudalism. In Cuba, Che's attempt to base the economy  
on "moral incentives" was wisely rejected by the Castroites but, as  
the catastrophic state of Cuban agriculture makes clear, on a statist  
basis and without any understanding of the importance of the law of  

Shane Mage

"All things are an equal exchange for fire and fire for all things,
as goods are for gold and gold for goods."

Herakleitos of Ephesos, fr, 9

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