William.Cockshott at glasgow.ac.uk
Mon Feb 18 15:11:31 MST 2013
No, a theory can be tested by comparing developments it logically leads to with what actually happens - all while a basic entity of the theory is not directly measurable, not observable. For example, statistical mechanics in the nineteenth century theorized tiny particles and their motion without being able to observe or measure them individually. The theory derived verifiable macro-quantities of gases, extending Boyle's law.
Similarly, the labor theory of value leads to explanations of crises and other macro-economic developments that accord with actual history - without measuring the _abstract_ labor in commodities.
Charlies basic argument is valid, but the actual application of the argument is not so convincing. Maxwell and Boltzmann did
put forward the kinetic theory of heat but this was not generally accepted until Einsteins 1905 paper on Brownian motion produced evidence that was not compatible with alternative theories of heat. Boltzmann was apparently in a minority until then.
The acceptance of the atomic theory depended on the existence of a crucial experiment/observation. What is supposed to be the crucial observation in the case of the labour theory of value?
None of your substantive points are in dispute Artesian, it is all terminology. To my view you fail to distinguish properly between value and its historical form of expression exchange value. I view value as being identical to socially neccessarly labour time and exchange value as its form of expression. For Artesian value and exchange value are the same and these are the expression of socially necessary labour time. There are here only two real world observables : the labour and the exchanges, but three nouns, social labour, value , exchange value. One has to ahglutinate two words onto one of the observables. It makes no substantive difference which side you agglutinate the word value to.
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A product cannot be a commodity, a value, in isolation. That is excluded by the social relation at the core to production based on exchange value. It can only be a value to the extent that it expresses that value in exchange, as an exchange value. The difference here is between the latent and the manifest, being and becoming, private and social.
Anyway, the abolition of production based on exchange value is the abolition of value as the measure of all things, but in particular, as the measure human beings. It becomes impossible for silver to be more valuable than copper; for gold to be more valuable than lead. Neither gold, nor lead, nor silver nor copper are produced as values.
And no, comrade Cockshott, the conscious, social, direction of labor-time is not the same as value. For example, in production based on exchange value, the time of production dictates utilizing stainless steel for door handles, door plates, etc. in hospitals, despite the fact that brass has natural germicidal properties that can reduce the risk of transmitting infections
Conscious, socially organized production based on need and utility rather than exchange value would direct the production and utilization of brass in these circumstances despite the increased “cost” of production
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