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Labor Theory of Value and the Uncertainty in Capitalist Economy

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This article aims to offer a reply to Steedman’s critique of Marx’s labor theory of value. Although this critique having been there for about three decades, the anti-critiques from Marxists are up to date flawed with fatal limitation, losing sight of an important dimension of labor theory of value, i.e., without taking it as a theoretical tool of understanding the uncertainty rooted in capitalist mode of production. The first part of this article reviews the controversy initiated by Steedman. Part 2 discusses Marx’s dual theory of market value and Rubin’s interpretation. Our view is that, if Rubin’s interpretation is accepted, a refutation of Steedman’s critique towards Marx will be impossible. Part 3 of this article explores the possible reconstruction of market value in the perspective of the dynamics in the pivoting of market value. We concludes that, the relationship between the standard condition of production and value is not, as argued by Steedman, of deterministic and one-directional character. For Marx, labor theory of value is applied to analyze the uncertain relation between the means and the end, the condition and the result of capitalist production. Meanwhile, another reply is attempted towards the negative comment on labor theory of value made by contemporary evolutionary economist such as Hodgson. In our view, Marx’s labor theory of value is not irrelevant as claimed by Hodgson to the main topics of evolutionary economics such as variety and “natural selection.” It is through labor theory of value that Marx explains the co-evolution of technology and economy.


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