- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on November 19, 1999 at 15:37:17:

:All it tells you is how you are discerning between the two - and thats all it needs to tell you for your choice. To make your choice you need know nothing about how many people worked on either, when they took tea breaks, what machines were used - you dont need to know how the Observer comes to be 1. Its priced so because its sellers wish to gain lots of 's and have figured that 10 is too much (people would choose other things with that 10 too often leaving them with too little) and 10p is too little (people may buy it but but they would lose money, it may cost 53p per copy to make - which btw says nothing about the other 47p being 'exploited' out of anyone)

But I have to ask, what is that 1? What does it signify? Why is it that both I and Guardian Newspapers think an Observer is worth 1? Indeed, I don't need to know any of those details, but i do need to know how much 1 is worth.

:I was chastised for suggesting such a link before but yes - the 'utility' you gain from the internet is more than for the observer so given the two have the same exchange value you choose that which gives you more 'utils' - a subjective (individual specific) evaluation.

Indeed, but you have just accepted that utility does not determine exchange value: where does exchange value come from, then?

:You are relating one to the other. a=1, b=2, c=1 etc etc. Alll you are doing is comparing them - the only basis you use is that which reflects your personal preference.

But my personal preference for internet time was higher than for the Absurder, and yet, they both have the same exchange value.

: Internet = 50 'desire units', 1 EV
: Observer = 40 'desire units', 1 EV

: Choice made. That is all you are saying.

But what am I measuring desire in? What is a desire unit? What is teh metric? How may I quantify desire - especially as you have so estutely noted, exchange value is not related to use/desire value.

: what I described was - the above is not connected to my point.

Can you name an instance of what you described?

:You mean its not magical!! Anyway...gold is one option, so are metals etc - basically things people want. Gold & diamonds may be pretty but they have important industrial uses, so do oil, chemicals etc etc. It may be outlandish to have a note say "I promise to pay the bearer a
lb of oil, some pennicilin and a sack of potatoes' but essentially money is based upon something actual - the above 'gaurantee' I alluded to is that govt promises to expropriate the oil & potatoes should the deal go awry - which it doesnt (thankfully, coz they couldnt ultimately fulfill the guarantee)

Exactly, money is guaranteed by selecting a commodity, and stating that the exchange value contained in that commodity is equal to teh value of money; given your model of desire units, upon what basis is this achieved, how could this be possible in a solipsistic world where price is governed solely by caprice and desire?

:Yet the above model becomes meaningless if we decide, using labor time, that option 2 is best, but find that the exchange value of wood is sky high and really we should have gone for option 3 because that costs us x$ less in exchange - ignoring exchange value is ignoring all
those other decisions poeple are amking about how much they want to exchange for this and that.

My point, though, is that Labour time is the exchange value, modified here or there for supply and demand, that Labour time is the starting basis for exchange value - you are quite right, that if we started an economic system, based ion Labour time vouchers, we would return to having money very swiftly...

: No, we could judge personally whether it seemed fair to us at that point - not quite the same absolute.

I meant, we would be able to see whether or not we were losing oil in the exchange.

Lets look at it this way, lets go nback to the start of modern markets.

In rural communities, even up to the 50's in britain, most people could do most jobs. Bill the A maker could make B's should he want. Gee is a B maker. It takes 1 hour for a competant A maker to make an A, it take three hours to make a B.

If in our imagined community, I came along, and tried to buy a B off you, and you charged me 5 A's for it, I would soon decide that I was losing out, because I'm oworking long hours, for less reward from you: I could easilly go and Make a B myself, except that in our nascent division of labour, someone has to make the A's, and thats me. If I start thinking that A making sucks, I give it up, and become a B maker. Essentially, what I put into teh system in terms of Labour, I should get out again - certainly, teh Adam smithian ideal, where division of labour would rule.

This can be seen as the unconscious way in which labour time comes to be the metric for echange: how long would it take me to do it myself, how much effort?

:If you mean 'cut down' then essentially it wouldnt - you would cut down on things whose exchange value got too high for you.

I meant economy in the Aristoltilean Greek sense, as household management, as opposed to Chremesmatics, which is buying and selling for profit. We could not run a sensible economy, could have a viable society.

:You dont,only a body or group intent on over riding the millions of relative decisions made by consumers would want to know a third measure - in order to impose pricing - whether by money or by instruction to produce/consume.

I do, if A goes up in Price, then both B and C go down in price relatiove to A. But you would need a bench-mark by which to measure that rise, otheriwse it merely becomes that A>B. Which is not a useful statement.

:That would just be comparing dinosaur size to human - I think you mean an objective absolute.

No, I mean fixing it to some common, understandable comparison, like Gold and its value.
:I thought you meant central planning. Individual planning 'works' because you dont have to know what every other person is up to.

But individual planning is part of social planning, and we need a rational basis uponwhich to draw up our plans.

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