It seems to me like the labor theory of value works well in industrial capitalism but not so well in our modern economy...

It seems to me like the labor theory of value works well in industrial capitalism but not so well in our modern economy where services and information dominate the economy.

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Why is that?

Read the blog book… Bodi Bean

Could you elaborate a little bit more. Also, have you learned alot from these threads, gorillaposter?

The world is more than just coastal America, western Europe, and a sliver of the Pacific Rim. Post-scarcity has yet to be achieved when it comes to food or manufactured goods, commodities which the vast majority of humanity spends its time producing.

Still, why isn't the law of value in operation when it comes to information products or services? There are many positions in food service, retail, and marketing which create no value, but there have always been occupations which do not involve the production of value. However, there are also many jobs in the "information economy" which do produce value, such as app developers and chefs.

LTV concerns itself with commodities. It doesn't really apply to services, since there is no "thing" that is produced and freely exchangeable (unlike a commodity).

Information as well is not a "thing" that one possesses, except by the ignorance of others. If someone can copy your database of information, there's nothing stopping them from distributing that information freely to whoever they want; or, they can find the same information themselves, or reverse-engineer something like a computer application and build something that does the same thing. Information as property and intellectual property is a spook, basically.

What about labour power?

What about it?

Is it more of a "thing" that is produced and freely exchangeable than a service?

Basically the capitalist is buying the worker's ability to work and sets a wage per hour (or per piece, or whatever).

Information on the other hand as I said can be replicated without necessarily "owning" it; the only way someone "possesses" information is because others are ignorant of that information.

With services, once they're done they can't be exchanged again. All that's left is the material changes (if any) the service worker affected. It's the same with any kind of labor, once expended it cannot be resold as labor-power again, all you have is the finished product.

And you have a point, but then again, the LTV wasn't intended as an all-encompassing theory, and it was geared towards commodities. Maybe someone will manage to find a LTV-analogous theory for services and information.

I don't think he meant information in itself, but rather the capacity to create, distribute, filter and otherwise work information. Closer to a service than a commodity.

My thinking is that the LTV is necessary only to describe capitalist laws of motion. It is not a rubric that we should be using to describe everything and that we should live by. The point of socialism is to transcend exchange-value altogether.

Basically a skilled laborer is just possessing information (and perhaps certain physical characteristics). The knowledge itself doesn't have any particular value as an object, all you can say about knowledge is that it takes an amount of labor for someone to learn a skill (since knowledge cannot appear spontaneously, the brain and consciousness does not work like that, and neither do changes in the body from exercise and diet).

I only think you can describe exchange-value for services with the material changes they create, and make a rough analogy to quantity of a commodity (if one is even possible). The value of a doctor's service isn't really governed by the laws of political economy, because people seeking a doctor to live will not reduce themselves to a commodity in their desire to live, at least generally. Of course doctors like any worker need to sell their labor (unless they have the privilege of working for free by being petit-bourgeoisie), and that rate can't be an infinite amount of money, but I don't think you can make a definite quantifiable commodity-equivalent for their services. You can work out rough metrics like quality-of-life-years or increased productivity of healthier workers, but both have the effect of reducing human life to Homo Economus. Things like that are why it's tricky to build an LTV-equivalent for services that is all-encompassing. You can get close with some services; for example, the costs of transporting commodities throughout a market, without which there would be no easy way to access the commodities for trade - but once transported, a commodity may not be un-transported or the miles exchanged to move some other thing.

The LTV applies pretty well to the information economy, even if it wan't initially created to explain it


This is a totally retarded argument. Marx was looking at the process of production, where raw materials are transformed into commodities, and surplus-value is generated. Once created commodities can circulate between owner after owner, and commodities can be transformed into other commodities. I don't know how internet ancaps keep making this retarded argument about reselling and modified items, but human stupidity is boundless and there are always suckers willing to buy what the Austrian School sells.

Services are commodities.

Saying the LTV doesn't apply in this or that scenario that is not classical commodity production but still requires wage labor is basically claiming the exploitation of proletarian labor does not occur in that scenario, yet I think it's common sense that it still is the case. You'd have a hard time denying that truck drivers, cashiers and other retail workers, or pajeet codemonkeys are proles slaving away for porkies to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

how come?

I've convinced people only think this because it has the word "labor" in it and we associate that with hammers and blacksmiths.

The LTV is more relevant than ever. Look at the latest trends of books coming about the relationship between digital media and economics: Douglas Rushkoff, Jaron Lanier, Paul Mason; all these guys analyses are based on the LTV (implicitly or explicitly). The digital economy proves the LTV true even more.

bump, there might still be life in this thread

They are produced for exchange

The LTV, as I see it, is really two different assertions in modern discourse. One is "value is to some extent objective, as firms that consistently sell below an objective cost of production to purchase inputs will go out of business". But then there's this assertion that costs solely are a function of labor and rent, which I don't think is accurate.

There are inputs that ultimately aren't entirely correlated with labor in the short or long run. You can only farm so many crops in a given plot of land in a year, there are only so many parcels that exist, there are only so many tons of metals or barrels of oil in the Earth's crust, the Sun will only give us so much energy even after we go full solar, telecom cables only have so much capacity, etc. Stuff like these are inherently important in deciding production, but the LTV says this all is just a function of labor which though it might be true in the long run given humanity's incredible ingenuity certainly isn't true in the short run and even in the long run the marginal product of labor certainly isn't a flat, straight, or even continuous line.

Now, under capitalism, the rationing of these scarcities is done using a market mechanism and ultimately results in what the supplier experiences as rent, but that doesn't mean that the entirety of what the buyer purchases in excess of the product's cost of labor has no relation to reality and nothing bad would happen if it was done away with.