[Marxism] Ecological Economics vs The Misevaluation of Value by theTraditionalists

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sun Aug 15 11:59:26 MDT 2004

>"MULTIPLE VALUES, BROADER NOTIONS OF VALUE.  Economic value is limited to
two narrow types:  Value in exchange (market price) and value in use
(willingness to pay or willingness to accept compensation).  As someone
once observed, #Economic value is a species of the genus value.# EE
proposes a much broader theory of value that includes social, aesthetic,
life support, intrinsic, and energy values, in addition to traditional
economic value."

This way of putting it is not correct in my view, and only semi-literate.
"Value in use" can refer both to utility preference and to material
use-value which are different concepts. Marx's concept is that of material
use-value (physical characteristics of a good or service which satisfy a
human need or want), and for Marx "value as such" refers to abstract human

The real problem is that the concepts of exchange-value and use-value or
utility preference apply only to marketed (traded) goods, and thus that
value in conventional economics can refer only to value from a market point
of view.

However as soon as we extend the notion of value beyond market valuations,
then we must be able to specify and quantify this value relative to other
values. This cannot be done objectively other than by reference to
labor-time, or to prices, and insofar as labor-time is rejected, we are back
with just market valuations.

Hence conventional economics excludes ecology other than by imputing prices
or taxes to natural resources or "strategic stocks". Insofar as natural
resources cannot however be traded and are non-reproducible (e.g. oceans,
air, ice, wilderness) then imputing a price is useless, and of no

What this means is that what "values" of any sort are dominant, depends
greatly on those social classes which hold power. But that is precisely a
question which has been expelled from economics as a "non-economic"
variable, and that is why Marx considered economics a science distorted by
sectional interests.

So it is not simply a question of liberally adopting a broader concept of
value, but of integrating social classes and their interests back into
economic science. It's not simply a question of what kinds of values there
are or should be, but who actually holds those values and what the
consequences of that are.

The only reason why all these other "values" have dropped out of economics
is because humans as producers expending labor-time are no longer central to
economic theory. They are just a "factor of production" the discussion of
which is relegated to management sciences.


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