[Marxism] [pen-l] Is It Time to Abandon GDP?

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Tue Nov 8 22:14:53 MST 2016

An excerpt from "Is It Time to Abandon GDP?"
by Edoardo Campanella

> Rather than dismissing GDP, it would be wiser to refine it and combine
> the information it contains with other socioeconomic indicators,
> including GNH. Statisticians should focus on placing a monetary value on
> environmental depletion and free digital services, collecting better
> household data for disposable income, giving more weight to quality
> changes, and building so-called satellite accounts to measure non-market
> activities.

This won't solve the problem; it's an attempted neo-liberal solution to one 
of the problems of neo-liberalism.  Campanella would collect information on a 
variety of issue, but he would still aggregate them into a single index. But 
any single index would have most of the problems of the GDP. No single 
numerical index can provide an appropriate measure of the economy.  An 
approximate useful natural measure of the economy would require keeping 
several indices distinct, and not aggregating them into a corrected GDP. 
Trying to run things according to a corrected GDP is like trying to eliminate 
exploitation by having monetary prices reflect the "true value" of things. 

Campanella connects the idea of a corrected GDP to putting a monetary value 
on environmental depletion. This is a common idea among various would-be 
ecosocialists and the Green Party who hold that carbon pricing (such as the 
carbon tax) can be one of the main effective tools to deal with global 
warming. This is a neo-liberal solution, also advocated by the World Bank and 
the IMF; they are fond of such things as the  carbon tax and cap and trade. 
It is a feature of our time that would-be socialists, who regard themselves 
as the most fierce opponents of the Washington Consensus and neo-liberalism,  
advocate the favorite environmental solution, carbon pricing, of the World 
Bank and IMF.

Marx advocated that the basic problem of capitalism wasn't that it didn't 
trade things at their proper value; on the contrary, the capitalist evils 
resulted from such trading. To try to overcome capitalism and evils by 
replacing value by true or corrected value was like trying to overcome
religion by elevating the true Pope. The law of value was the law of 
exploitation, not the law of overcoming exploitation. And it is also the law 
of destroying the environment.

I wrote a three-part series in 2000-2001 debunking the idea of there being a 
single natural unit for economic planning, whether the dollar, the labor 
content, or any single unit.

Part one of the series concentrates on whether the  labor content (as 
specified by the labor theory of value) is the natural unit of economic 
calculcation, and is available at


Part Three deals in part with various passages from Marx and Engels, and 
corrects some fashionable misinterpretations of what they are saying. See 

-- Joseph Green

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