Labor Vouchers or Gift Economy

Bentley Harris
Bentley Harris

So depending on how you believe the commune should work and how production should be organized among workers and other communes, what would be the superior method of exchange?

Should it be a gift economy? Or should vouchers be given for every hour worked, and the value of a product is determined by how many hours it has taken to create the product?

I see how they can both be vital in creating a working commune or socialist world, but what is your take?

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Other urls found in this thread:

youtube.com/watch?v=cI01-5zhwdA
youtube.com/watch?v=kTl4b0w6mpk
marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch18.htm

Jackson Lopez
Jackson Lopez

gift economy
utopian meme that isn't possible in the industrial world
labor vouchers
a system of ledger where your abilities and needs are literally calculated and tended to

but I don't know OP you decide

Isaac Lewis
Isaac Lewis

implying the world has to be industrial

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Bentley Gray
Bentley Gray

implying you can fight the innate force of desiring-production

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Connor Lopez
Connor Lopez

labor vouchers for consumption/c2b economy. everything that you still have to buy at a store would be paid for by labor vouchers that cannot circulate as opposed to money, just like marx and cockshott suggest.

but labor vouchers make no sense in the b2b economy if the state/the people own all means of production. the b2b economy - i.e. the economy between the different public sectors - would be a gift economy. the agricultural enterprise would not sell off their goods to the retail enterprise, they would "gift" it to them without any money or labor vouchers being exchanged. who gifts what would have to be determined by cybernetic central planning

t. cockshott gang

Alexander Evans
Alexander Evans

"Gift economy" is a meme. It's a wholly anthropological concept, used to describe various forms of ritualised exchange in pre-industrial societies, and every attempt to apply it to a modern society has always been vague and idealised. Unless you're a literal primmie I don't see how it would work, but maybe an anarkiddie here can elaborate on it.
To answer the OP, in a communistic society there is no method or mode of exchange, since both resources and MoP are commonly owned. In such a society there are two main modes of distribution that I am aware of: to each according to work (ie. labour vouchers), or to each according to need (full communism), and any near-future communistic society will probably use a mixture of both, depending on what is most practical or desirable.

Colton Garcia
Colton Garcia

utopian meme that isn't possible in the industrial world
Literally the only problem you would have to solve is the problem of incentives. We are producing already far more than we actually need. What you could do is gradually move away from a direct calculation in labour time (work three hours, grab stuff that took three hours to produce) and shift the distribution of goods towards some "universal material basic income", e.g. you are guaranteed all the necessities of good life and have to, in exchange, contribute some hours of labour to the community. Labour vouchers still take in account levels of disparity and overwhelming scarcity of goods where you need to micromanage who deserves what.

That's why I think the money model of the USSR is a bit better because of other problems with vouchers I won't get into. With money you slowly starting to shift to distribution according to need without fucking up the whole system in one go. You basically start subsidising everything till it's free, and replace money-wages with communal work duties. Slowly start with one industry, and then make all the goods produced by this industry for free, and so on. In the DPRK, the army is commanded to build more living space, which is basically given to people for free - I know this is a very militaristic, barack communism type of approach, but the general idea could work.

I'm highly critical of Cockshott's model of paying everyone the same. I think this only works in his computer models but considering how complex incentives and consumer behaviours work, he's overly simplifying an issue over which he has no testable data of. After all, we know that equalised wages under Brezhnev led to the period of stagnation in the USSR.

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Christian Richardson
Christian Richardson

What you're describing is not a gift economy, fam.

Gabriel Ramirez
Gabriel Ramirez

I'm highly critical of Cockshott's model of paying everyone the same

Cockshott literally says the opposite of this.

Easton Perry
Easton Perry

everything that you still have to buy at a store would be paid for by labor vouchers that cannot circulate as opposed to money, just like marx and cockshott suggest.
Duh, what's the difference to ML states. Money didn't really circulate there either except in small artisan shops and the like. Cockshott admits that himself.

Jacob Lee
Jacob Lee

Whatever work in the nation that's having a revolution.

Brayden Murphy
Brayden Murphy

That's why I think the money model of the USSR is a bit better because of other problems with vouchers I won't get into.

The existence of money, i.e. cash, helps fuel corruption and a black market (and capitalist accumulation, see Yugoslavian market socialism retardery). Labor vouchers are superior in every way. The existence of money alone (which, as Marx says, is a commodity) causes a lot of the core issues of capitalism (M-C-M' cycle of accumulation etc.)

Read Das Kapital Volume 1 if you haven't…

Jacob Young
Jacob Young

Do you think a gift economy entails the absolute absence from all duties of work? Then that would be indeed either utopian or you are talking about Star Trek tier society, which isn't in Marx's program either. You don't need to achieve ridiculous amounts of automatisation for communism.

Ethan Williams
Ethan Williams

*works

Logan Jackson
Logan Jackson

Duh, what's the difference to ML states.

The difference is that money can circulate and cause inflation much more easily than labor vouchers.

Money didn't really circulate there either except in small artisan shops and the like.

You do know how oligarchs came into being, right??? The USSR had millionaires in the 80s. Corruption was a big issue in the USSR and the existence of money is a prerequisite for the most blatant forms of corruption like bribery etc.

A modern Marxist-Leninist state would 100% have to have labor vouchers.

Carter Nguyen
Carter Nguyen

Do you think a gift economy entails the absolute absence from all duties of work?
No, I think a gift economy entails a mode of exchange without explicit reciprocity. Have you even read anything about gift economies?
I see a lot of people ITT confusing gift economies with some kind of "full communism", but this is false. In fact, the two are incompatible. In a communist society, a society where the MoP are owned in common, there are no modes of exchange only modes of distribution.

Camden Perez
Camden Perez

Karl Marx
dude lets just have money until one day there magically isnt any money anymore idk man…shieeeeeet pass me the blunt bruh

read gothaer programm. any higher stage socialism would have to have a labor voucher system and gradually move to some sort of "gift economy" as it approaches communism and the concept of wage labor withers away

Bentley Cook
Bentley Cook

this is pure semantics. with gift we mean that neither money nor any other form of exchange takes place. you have a good, you give away a good, you get a good - any primitive socialist b2b economy would have to have this (which is the reason why titoist market faggotry is barely socialist to begin with). this form of economy obviously wouldn't work in a lower stage socialist economy and even in a higher stage socialist economy it would only work with goods and services that are not hoardable, like digital goods, cultural events, services that are needed in regular intervals that can be predicted such as haircuts or dental check-ups etc.

Tyler Lopez
Tyler Lopez

I think the money model of the USSR is a bit better because of other problems with vouchers I won't get into.
What a powerful argument. Not.
You basically start subsidising everything till it's free, and replace money-wages with communal work duties. Slowly start with one industry, and then make all the goods produced by this industry for free, and so on.
So these "free" things won't produce themselves, they will be made by people having the duty to make them. And how do you know how much to make of each thing?
I'm highly critical of Cockshott's model of paying everyone the same.
Cockshott doesn't propose that.

John Lee
John Lee

How much % of the economy was based on the black market? I assume not a relevant degree, not before Pizza Hut man banned vodka and stuff. This is a question of legal enforcement and competition with the West. You could easily have a voucher economy with a black market where people make secret exchanges with cigarette packages, like in post-war Germany before the instruction of the German Mark. Another reason was the fact that some goods could only be acquired in the West.

Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia had a market economy where money was turned into capital (accumulation) in the MCM' cycle, the USSR had an economy based on distribution where this was not the case. In such a case, the capitalist money form, which presupposes an exchange of commodities, changes it's character.

Ian Anderson
Ian Anderson

I don't think you know what a gift economy is

Carter Wilson
Carter Wilson

*this wouldnt work in a lower stage socialist c2b economy

Hudson Lewis
Hudson Lewis

you basically know nothing about cockshott. read the damn book before you strawman his arguments.

the existence of money ignores that labor time is the basis of a socialist economy. the existence of money does not put exchange value or even use value to the forefront but rather relies on the same market value that capitalism uses. a labor voucher economy would be much more easily plannable than a price-based economy, i.e. a money economy. the transformation problem would be solved, which is one of the only legit ways you (formerly) could attack marx's line of analysis with.

again: please read cockshott

Logan Parker
Logan Parker

youtube.com/watch?v=cI01-5zhwdA
going beyond money - paul cockshott

Justin Cooper
Justin Cooper

The difference is that money can circulate and cause inflation much more easily than labor vouchers.
Which ML state that didn't have a market economy had inflation? Money that can circulate made it more practical than labour vouchers, because you could support non-working family members and stuff. Accounting was still done in material terms, not by value-indicators.

Oligarchy
That was an issue of a emerging class that sought to replace the socialist system with capitalism, as it would promise them greater riches. The corrosion of the milieu composition of the CPSU is the problem here.

Thomas Wood
Thomas Wood

youtube.com/watch?v=kTl4b0w6mpk
getting down to details of communism
Looks at how a labor credit economy would actually work

Nathan Nelson
Nathan Nelson

Then we are not talking about the Marxist definition of exchange. Exchanges within "one firm" are not exchanges in the social sense

Tyler Anderson
Tyler Anderson

Money that can circulate made it more practical than labour vouchers, because you could support non-working family members and stuff.

Again: If you read the Gothaer Program or any of Cockshott, you would know that those who cannot work would still be supported by the state via vouchers, like the pensioned, students, the disabled and so on, and that those with children would receive a higher share of vouchers so as to support their families etc. Marx literally said this.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore

with gift we mean that neither money nor any other form of exchange takes place
That is literally the opposite of what you can read from a simple google search or even what you say in the very next sentence. It is explicitly defined as a mode of exchange, and the cycle you describe "you have a good, you give away a good, you get a good" is an exchange between two parties. What distinguishes gift economies is that they are often highly ritualised and governed by social norms rather than value. This practice, or related practices like mutual aid, is often used as an analogy for communism, but it is very different. If you want a term to describe a society where resources are commonly owned and distributed according to work or need, we already have a very good one: Communism.
That is exactly what I am saying. It is pointless to talk about methods or modes of exchange in a communist society because there is no exchange under communism.

Sebastian Murphy
Sebastian Murphy

Also money does not accurately portray how much labor time is saved. The USSR administrator would predominantly look at how many goods were produced in a certain period, but not at how much labor time was spent producing said goods. The labor-voucher-economy administrator would rather try to produce XYZ amount of goods using as little labor hours as possible.

The less labor hours you need to produce a good, the cheaper it would become and the higher the amount of efficiency would be, as Marx says. The labor voucher economy would shift to being as efficient as possible (while still retaining standards and confined within regular, but somewhat short working hours). The goal would be to leave the workers as much time as possible for leisure, just like Marx described full communism, so that we can ultimately free ourselves from wage labor in the distant future.

The USSR administrator would look to save money and materials, the labor voucher administrator would look to save time by new technological advancements such as machines and ultimately automation.

This is the same phenomenon that leads to societies rather employing slaves or sweatshop workers to produce a good rather than use machinery and robots because the former costs less money than latter, whereas latter saves more labor time than former and would thus increase productivity. Capitalists do not care about productivity above all, they care about profits. I am not saying the administrators of the USSR thought the same way, but the existence of money alone would easily lead to middle-management-esque type figures to have these thoughts and waste labor hours in pursuit of presenting good numbers to their supervisors ("we saved so much money in our factory" = "we didn't pay our people enough money and let them work longer").

Benjamin Long
Benjamin Long

In practice, labor vouchers are effectively just money issued by a government that doesn't recognize private property. Gift economies are also retarded for similar reasons why Austrian economics are retarded.

A modern socialist economy should be more of a mixed economy, wherein private property is formally prohibited. Nationalizing essential industry is never a bad idea, but real world economies are complicated affairs that require a reasonable degree of pragmatism, and offering people some personal freedom at the cost of some theoretical efficiency works wonders for political stability and diplomacy.

Elijah Turner
Elijah Turner

Big brain take right here

Ayden King
Ayden King

thanks molymeme

Henry Ross
Henry Ross

an exchange implies a quid-pro-pro. a gift does not. a gift is ideally given from the "goodwill of the heart".

i just think that calling this mode communism isn't technically right because yes, that's how communism would work, but this "you have a good, you give away a good, you get a good"-cycle could easily exist in a lower stage socialist economy as well, i.e. in an economy that hasn't reached the state of communism yet. current-day china could easily implement this system whenever their SOE interact (but they of course don't: they use money), so that for example the state petroleum company simply transfers the refined petroleum to the state petrochemistry company without any exchange of money, simply because the state ordered it to do so. this "order" of giving away the good would be the result of cybernetic planning. so what other term would you suggest? i would suggest "institutional gift economy" to describe this B2B-behavior - it's institutional in that the gift is not given from the "goodwill of the heart" like in personal matters but rather ordered to implement the cybernetic plan, but it's still some sort of "gift" because there is no exchange of money involved (although you could argue that there is an exchange involved in that the state petrochemistry company would supply the state petroleum company with any petrochemical supplies the latter would need).

you could also argue that this is not an exchange but rather just moving the good from one factory to the other, and these two factories happened to produce different goods, but since all the factories are owned by the people, it wouldn't be an exchange since the public entity cannot exchange with itself, only with others, such as companies in foreign countries

Asher King
Asher King

labor voucher is not money…"you need money to make money" is true, but "you need labor vouchers to make labor vouchers" is not. the existence of money allows for rentiers, for the bourgeoisie to leach off of the workers. the labor voucher system would force any able-bodied and healthy and non-senior person to work, whether this is labor as we commonly know it, education or domestic labor which could also be paid for in higher stage socialism. you are acting as if labor vouchers is the same as a disney dollar that you can only use in disney stores. this is disingenuous.

plz read cockshott thx

Carter Williams
Carter Williams

What about jobs which don't result in the production of a product, like a service job?

How does one account for the maintaince jobs for the machines the workers use to produce the goods?

Jaxon Parker
Jaxon Parker

There is always a base of actual hours worked. So let's say we have a 35 hour work week because the economy is rather efficient. So everyone would get paid for those 35 hours. This is the direct labor time. Then we also have indirect labor time. This is time used to educate and train skills. The 60 year old doctor has more experience than the 30 year old doctor. The 60 year old doctor has had time to hone his skills, to visit adult education programmes such as academic seminaries and so on. One hour of his labor would be more valuable than one hour of the 30 year old doctor's work. But even the 30 year old doctor would even have all the education he went through accounted in within his labor time. The base level of actual labor hours would be multiplied with whatever factor the planners come up with to define this additional education.

So we have actual hours worked. We have indirect hours worked (education + experience). So in essence: Quantity. Quantity would be the least controversial measurement.

Next comes quality, necessity and so on. The goal with all these metrics is to quantify the "use value" of any labor as well as possible.

This is where Cockshott leaves room open. It would know be not a merely scientific/economic issue but a political issue. How much do we want quality to play a role? How much income inequality would we tolerate between the most skilled workers and the least skilled workers?

As far as quality goes, there could be a grade system or an intensity system. Grade system would maybe go something like this: Top third, mid third, lower third. The top third gets 1.2x the vouchers, the middle third gets 1.0x the vouchers, the lowest third gets 0.8x the vouchers. This is just one suggestion. Another suggestion that I read here on leftypol and quite liked was the "intensity" metric. For example one could opt for an "intensive" work ethic, a "standard" work ethic and a "casual work ethic" before entering the line of work. The supervisors or the even personal management of the firm would keep an eye on whether those opting for intensive work would pass the threshold for said mode, or whether those opting for casual work would be actually working harder than they would have to and would thus be getting paid less than they deserve. There could be a regular review of work performance and people could be pushed up or down in these measurements depending on their performance (it would be ideal if the supervisors talked with the worker beforehand though and offered solutions). The planners would need to decide how the factor of multiplication would have to be, depending on how many people choose to deviate from the norm. If 33% choose intensive work and 33% choose casual work, then the factors would go something like:

Matthew Torres
Matthew Torres

1.34x for intensive performance
1.00x for standard performance
0.67x for casual performance

The only political issue here would be how low you would want to go with the casual rate. It would have to be enough to sustain a dignified life. So perhaps there would be a limit as to how low the multiplication factor could go before reaching "minimum wage". This would in effect limit the number of people allowed to work casually.

Another metric that Marx himself mentions in Kritik des Gothaer Programms is necessity. I would equate this to benefits in welfare capitalism. So the worker with 1 child would have a multiplication factor in his labor voucher wage that the worker with 0 children would not have, simply because former has to feed more heads than the latter. We could extrapolate this to disability benefits and other welfare mechanisms we know of today.

Another thing that Cockshott mentions would be something like a hazard bonus. Jobs that are especially hazardous would have to have an additional multiplication factor to incentivize people to take these jobs. For example those having to work in chemical plants and coming in contact with toxic fumes and dusts, or firefighters and so on.

Another thing that we could consider is the average number of years that a worker in that field could work, i.e. the retirement age. A bureaucrat could work until he is 65 without any issues whereas the construction worker who has to move his body all day would be a wreck at 65 and would thus deserve retirement at for example 60 years of age or even younger (this depends on how strong the economy is and how much welfare it can handle). So, accounting that this person would have to retire earlier because of bodily constraints, he would perhaps have an additional multiplication factor in his wage that the laborers without bodily taxing jobs wouldn't have. Alternatively we could simply leave out this multiplication factor with the argument that this person reaches retirement age earlier anyway and thus can receive his pension 5 years earlier than the bureaucrat, which would cancel out the effect of him having to leave the work force earlier.

I could go on and on. Not to be all LARP-y but I just wanted to show that all of these things are possible. Cockshott's book is great in that it lays out that constructing an entire economy along these lines was possible even using computers of the early 90s, let alone the supercomputers of today. The same apparatus we have to determine wages by HR departments could be used to determine labor vouchers for our workers. The ministries of labor or ministries of planning would oversee this planning process. It is not an utopia. In fact we could have had something like this had Allende not been killed or had OGAS been installed in the USSR. A modern socialist state of the 21st century could offer this and much more. We will use technology to our advantage. Muh fully automated luxury space communism will then be within our reach.

picture related

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Eli Peterson
Eli Peterson

to anyone lurking: read Cockshott's "Towards A New Socialism" and check out his youtube channel if you want more details on this

Ian Flores
Ian Flores

I think you should try looking up the definitions of "gift economy" and "communism". I get what you're trying to say, but I think you're putting it in the wrong terms. A gift is rarely given "from the goodwill of the heart" as you describe - that is charity. A gift usually has some form a reciprocity. You give something, the person is indebted to you, and they give something back. Failing to give something back makes you look bad. In fact, non-reciprocal gifts such as charity are often toxic - they lower the social standing of the person receiving them (for obvious reasons). In a case study of a "gift economy" that I read on the wiki article, social standing is directly tied to gifts - big gifters are seen as "big men" while those who predominantly receive are seen as "rubbish men".
What you describe in your example, the state operating two separate firms or industries as a single firm, is what Marx and Engels described as socialised production IIRC. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I think Marx used the analogy of the factory line. When a worker finishes his job on the product and hands it to another worker there is no exchange involved, nor is the worker "gifting" anything in even the most abstract sense. They are simply operating for the firm as part of a productive process, and the exchange only happens when they leave their factory and receive their pay, and when the firm sells off the product. As the productive processes and the distribution of labour develop, more and more of production is socialised under single firms, as in your example with the petroleum company. You might also call it a command economy.
Communism and socialism are both defined as modes of production where the MoP are owned in common. In other words, production is fully socialised under a single "firm", the commons. Some people divide them according to which mode of distribution is dominant -according to work or according to need - and some, like Cockshott, say that socialism an intermediate stage. I use them interchangeably.

Adrian Foster
Adrian Foster

One last thing: All of these multiplication factors would not only have to result in a minimum wage, as I've mentioned in my post, but also in a maximum wage - otherwise we would run risk of duplicating class structures in our labor voucher economy. AFAIK Maoist China had a salary cap (I think it was 8x). A middle-stage socialist economy could say that for example those earning the most could only earn 5x, 6x or 7x as many labor vouchers as those earning the least. The goal would be to raise living standards to such a level that this income difference would wither away, just the same as wage labor would slowly wither away.

Jayden James
Jayden James

I think you should try looking up the definitions of "gift economy" and "communism".

I know what both are, no need to be condescending.

A gift is rarely given "from the goodwill of the heart" as you describe - that is charity. A gift usually has some form a reciprocity.

That's literally what a gift is defined to as in legal terms, i.e. "a gift contract". The reciprocity has no legal or political or economical meaning, but is rather on a personal level. These personal motives have no relevance outside of personal matters. If you give a gift, you legally cannot expect anything back - otherwise this would have been a trade.

Failing to give something back makes you look bad.

This is something pertaining to social norms. These social norm do not matter in the B2B economy I have described where I mentioned the petroleum company of China interacting with the petrochemical company of China.

I agree with your post in general, though. But I still think that some distinction has to be made when using the term command economy, because the USSR was a command economy as well and yet money was still "exchanged" when one firm bought something from the other. The critique Cockshott makes is that this exchange was harmful to the Soviet economy and that the goods should have been "exchanged" without money going from one hand to the other. The goods should have literally just been given to the other business, "free of charge". Having labor vouchers makes this possible. And if anyone were to argue that the "exchange of money" in this case simply had a certification/accounting motive and not the motive it has in capitalism (someone ITT said something similar), then this isn't 100% true, because the B2B economy and the C2B economy used the same currency, so that the firm A moved money to the firm B and the firm B paid its workers using that money, then the workers of B went and used that money to buy things which went to the firm C which used that money to pay its workers and so on and so forth. This results in the folllowing: The firm that had the most money could pay the highest wages, which doesn't necessarily have to correlate with the firm that was the most productive, simply because money spent and labor time worked do not necessarily correlate. What Marx and Cockshott propose is putting time in the forefront of everything because of the labour theory of value, which money simply doesn't.

Maybe I cannot make myself clear. What I was trying to say is that the labor voucher economy and the command economy/institutional gift economy are interconnected to each other. The labor voucher economy is merely consumer-to-business. Whenevere there is a business-to-business interaction, there are no more labor vouchers involved, and there should be no money involved (which unfortunately was the case in the USSR). It should instead be merely the goods and services exchanging according to whatever the command economy says.

Julian Rodriguez
Julian Rodriguez

no need to be condescending
I wasn't trying to be condescending. We're using to different definitions for the same terms, you can find mine from a quick google search, it's that simple.
That's literally what a gift is defined to as in legal terms
I'm not talking about it in legal terms. I'm talking about it in the context of gift economies and the anthropological research surrounding them.

As for the rest I think we're pretty much saying the same thing. You're saying that the B2B economy should be run like a "gift economy", what I call socialised production, where all productive processes happen without exchange, while the C2B economy, what I call the mode of distribution, is run according to labour vouchers (do correct me if I'm wrong). My main objection is that I don't think "gift economy" is the right term. Call it semantics if you will, but the term is already fairly well established and using it in a different way just adds needless confusion.

Easton Ward
Easton Ward

I support a gift economy just like Marx. Vouchers should only be used for goods that are scarce or cause heavy pollution. Fuck off revisionists.

Ryder Ward
Ryder Ward

Just to add on my point about legal terms: Legal terms do not consider the broader social context, only the law. In legal terms it is correct to say that all gifts are non-reciprocal, because gifts, by definition, don't carry any legal obligations. The cops aren't gonna come knocking if you don't gift back. But that doesn't mean there aren't social obligations attached to receiving a gift. Any gift, even charity, leaves the receiver with a social debt which they are expected to repay, and failure to do so leads to social stigma. Gift economies are intrinsically tied to these social dynamics in ways that regular economies are not, and it's debatable whether you can even call them economies in the first place, besides as an analogy.

Blake Perry
Blake Perry

t. revisionist. Marx never talked about gift economies.

Parker Fisher
Parker Fisher

How do you handle trade in a labor voucher economy? International trade that is

Carter Torres
Carter Torres

Another metric that Marx himself mentions in Kritik des Gothaer Programms is necessity. I would equate this to benefits in welfare capitalism. So the worker with 1 child would have a multiplication factor in his labor voucher wage that the worker with 0 children would not have
Should be just a regular payments fixed irrespective of the income from work. And as a kid gets older (but not old enough to work full time), an increasing share of these payments should directly go to the kid.

Alexander Walker
Alexander Walker

Look up the PDF of Towards A New Socialism. Cockshott wrote a chapter on this. He details how trade with capitalist countries and trade with socialist countries would work in detail. You will find an easy-to-understand answer there with better explanations than we can produce

(Basically the economy uses two different currencies.The modern DPRK has a similar system where they use two currencies (one for trade, one for the domestic economy), but IDK if they still have it.)

Adrian King
Adrian King

Should be just a regular payments fixed irrespective of the income from work.

You are correct, I used the wrong term.

And as a kid gets older (but not old enough to work full time), an increasing share of these payments should directly go to the kid.

This would go into how allowances and gifts are handled and would depend on how advanced the labor voucher mechanism is.

One stance is that labor vouchers cannot be gifted in the same way money can be gifted, so you can't have your parents gift you labor vouchers for your birthday etc., but they would rather have to buy a good or coupon etc. and gift that to you. Having gift coupons would IMO be a good way of handling this problem - but I don't think this idea would work 100% in early stage socialism.

Let's assume that domestic labor is still not being paid for by labor vouchers and we have a family household where the man works and the woman stays at home to take care of the children. How would the housekeeper go grocery shopping etc. if they cannot use the LV card of their spouse? For this reason there would either have to be joint account mechanisms - like partners being able to share a LV account, just like they can share a bank account in capitalist societies - or there would have to be a system in place where you can transfer a certain amount or percentage of LV to someone else (like a bank transfer to a different account), or probably a mixture of both.

But I would imagine that for example a child/a minor can always receive a certain amount or percentage of LVs from his parents so that he can buy goods himself, like books and candy at the corner store. You could also say that for example teenagers between 14 and 17 can have a higher allowance cap than children between 6 and 13.

The reason you would need allowance and gift caps (if we assume separate and not joint accounts) is that otherwise there could be tax dodging shit going on. But since the planning agency would have an overview of the LV transactions between people, a system would have to be put into place to detect irregularties, such as moving 100% of the vouchers to a different account (imagine the socialist version of a credit card scam).

Sidenote: A labor voucher system would effectively eliminate many economical crimes such as fraud, another advantage it has towards money.

Nicholas Butler
Nicholas Butler

How do you assign a value to labour?

Is the labour of the guy who shovels shit at the fertilizer plant more or less valuable than the labour of the farmer who uses that fertilizer to grow vegetables?

Is a train driver's 40 hours a week of labour worth more than a surgeon's 8 hours a week of labour where he saves people's lives?

Is all labour worth the same or are some forms of labour worth more than others due to supply and demand?

And does the productivity and necessity of labour increase it's value? Is a factory worker's labour worth more than an artist's labour?

These are questions that need to be considered again and again to keep the concept relevant to modern times.

Juan Cook
Juan Cook

Vouchers should only be used for goods that are scarce or cause heavy pollution

This is the goal, by in the meantime, labor vouchers would have to be used until we reach a level of entirely socialized production.

So any good that can be hoarded or where it doesn't make sense to give "free" access - food, clothes, "luxury" gadgets and "luxury" goods (i.e.: anything that goes past the immediate standard of said society) - would be bought using labor vouchers.

For example, it makes sense to give school supplies to children free of charge because they all roughly need the same items.

But (leisure) clothing is much more individual - we have different sizes, different styles, different tastes, minors grow, people can gain or lose weight etc. - for that reason, clothing would need to be subject to a labor voucher market, rather than be distributed free of charge like school supplies.

The same goes for food: Sure we can imagine a basket of staple foods that everyone needs, but diets are different, tastes are different, there exist allergies, people come from different parts of the world and have different cuisines and so on, so it makes sense to give the consumer the choice of what he wants to buy using labor vouchers rather than giving out a standard food supply kit free of charge.

Why not have a customizable kit? Well, it would be logistically difficult to have too much of individualization whenever free kits and supplies are involved (until we reach communism). So anything that cannot be standardized would need to be bought by labor vouchers.

But for example, digital goods would always be free. Most ("essential") services would be free - healthcare, insurance, education, housing, mass transit, utilties, waste management, communal eating at work- and schoolplaces, telecommunications, sports, fitness, wellness, hygiene/beauty, entertainment, cultural endeavours, media products and so on. They would be financed from the public at large (meaning taxes + using the surplus value of the labor). The result would be that the incomes of the people would be lower, but they would only need said income for less things than in capitalist societies so it wouldn't matter. They would, in the short-term, only need to buy food, buy clothes, buy furniture that goes beyond what the public housing offers, buy gadgets and goods that go beyond what the state offers free of charge, finance vacations to foreign countries and visit restaurants/cafes and so on - whereas in capitalism, we would need to pay rent, insurance, transit fees, telecommunication, television, utilities and so on.

The goal would be to make more and more goods free of charge and use more and more of the surplus value to make this happen, until one day, there would be almost no personal income left - simply because all the labor produced by said society would go into subsidizing these free goods, so that you don't need any currency to buy these goods and services because they would be free anyway. This is when communism would be reached.

Henry Powell
Henry Powell

These are questions that need to be considered again and again to keep the concept relevant to modern times.

Correct. Cockshott answers many of your questions in his book "Towards A New Socialism". I assume you are asking these questions rhetorically, but in good faith. I assure you that these problems are entirely solvable, just like we can answer complicated economical and financial questions under capitalism. If enough scientists and academics research these topics, there would be a solid framework to build such an economy upon. But of course this type of topics aren't going to be financed by current-day bourgeois academia, which explains why these concepts are still "fringe", despite being so viable and being recommended by Marx himself (one of the few actual recommendations Marx makes about socialism).

Benjamin Flores
Benjamin Flores

The goal would be to make more and more goods free of charge and use more and more of the surplus value to make this happen, until one day, there would be almost no personal income left - simply because all the labor produced by said society would go into subsidizing these free goods, so that you don't need any currency to buy these goods and services because they would be free anyway. This is when communism would be reached.

With this process would also come the elimination of commodity production. The money form would already have been eliminated. Classes would have been eliminated. The state would be ready to wither away and assume a merely administrative and defensive role.

William Jenkins
William Jenkins

"gift economy" isn't really a thing
labor vouchers basically become money in another form, since the goods they produce could just enter a black market and an unofficial exchange rate would be established. so that's not really a desirable outcome.

I think the answer is both obvious and in effect on a small scale when companies manage their internal affairs: planning, and lots of it, on a small scale, to ensure that which needs to be produced and distributed goes where it is supposed to go. Market exchange just generalizes this in a very inefficient way, with its particular quirks and contradictions. This planning will necessarily need to devolve to smaller and smaller levels, since the central committee can't be arsed with telling poor villagers in Appalachia what they can and cannot do beyond a reasonable extent.
The labor theory of value isn't intended to be a guide to political economy, but a device for Marx to explain how capitalism works. Superimposing the law of value on a future political economy is not really worth much. In a planned economy, we should know what workers are capable of producing, what they need, and so on; the need for a labor voucher for the sake of planning is unnecessary. Any such voucher system would only be useful as an incentive to work, and it is not the only such incentive. The values of these vouchers could be quite arbitrary in theory in order to present carrots and sticks to manipulate the workforce. That we're even talking about a supposed entity overseeing the workforce - let's call it a state, because why not - suggests that we haven't really transcended political economy, but created some new political economy with different rules. Even if this state was ostensibly democratic and responsive to the will of the people ("the people" becoming more and more an abstract thing), it would be a state nonetheless and only vigilance would prevent the decay of democratic institutions.

Julian Phillips
Julian Phillips

LOL, yes he did. Read more Marx, brainlet.

Gabriel Campbell
Gabriel Campbell

LOL, yes he did
Where? I can guarantee you that the term "gift economy" does not appear a single time in any of his works. You're talking out of your ass.

Josiah Perez
Josiah Perez

t. knows marxism better than marx who was for labor vouchers

Liam Hernandez
Liam Hernandez

Marx had to think of something that would work with 19th century technology and organizational capabilities in a practical manner. No socialist system went for labor vouchers for a reason, at least not for long.

William Martin
William Martin

"For a reason" doesn't mean it's the reason you picked, m8

Liam Morales
Liam Morales

Your labor voucher system is riddled with so many obvious problems. Thinking about the matter for any serious length of time would tell you that if you know anything about how the last 150 years has actually worked in practice, if you know modern production and distribution methods and how they have evolved.
It's not a calculation problem (that's been debunked a long time ago), it's that we can obviously implement something better and don't need to measure out labor quantities for compensation purposes. Marx wrote in an environment where universal education was not even a thing, whereas today learning and teaching is virtually inseperable from labor. You'd be caught in a never-ending quest to determine whose education is worth more than another's, and by time you resolve that question you could have reached Communism if you weren't wanking over how much more 4-year degrees deserve over the uneducated.

You still haven't mentioned the obvious problems:
- That people will simply trade goods in-kind and operate a black market, and would be quite capable of determining the relative exchange rate of goods. Sure, the government might make rules, but rules are made to be broken.
- Shenanigans with the disbursers of vouchers handing out overpayments to friends, and punishing outsiders with lower pay while the put-upon lowpays are saddled with most of the work. You know, the kind of thing that happened in the USSR and was well documented as an endemic problem with their system (not as bad as capitalist propaganda will tell you, but it still ate away at the system and set the foundation for the black market to corrupt everything).
- The aforementioned difficulty of factoring learning, especially when the education system we are likely to have in the first place is very, very questionable. You just invent for yourself another calculation problem that you don't really need to endure, on top of the obvious problems of education on a mass scale in general.
- Marx intended his example as an alternative that could be applied right then and there, in response to a specific situation in his time. It was not "hey guise, labor vouchers are the way!" That's idealist nonsense.
- The law of value applies to labor in the abstract. It is purely meant for analyzing capitalism, not a rubric. You have yet to offer any argument about why we "ought" to use the law of value when we can obviously do better.

Jordan Cox
Jordan Cox

Just got to this part of Capital Vol. 2:
"On the basis of socialised production the scale must be ascertained on which those operations — which withdraw labour-power and means of production for a long time without supplying any product as a useful effect in the interim — can be carried on without injuring branches of production which not only withdraw labour-power and means of production continually, or several times a year, but also supply means of subsistence and of production. Under socialised as well as capitalist production, the labourers in branches of business with shorter working periods will as before withdraw products only for a short time without giving any products in return; while branches of business with long working periods continually withdraw products for a longer time before they return anything. This circumstance, then, arises from the material character of the particular labour-process, not from its social form. In the case of socialised production the money-capital is eliminated. Society distributes labour-power and means of production to the different branches of production. The producers may, for all it matters, receive paper vouchers entitling them to withdraw from the social supplies of consumer goods a quantity corresponding to their labour-time. These vouchers are not money. They do not circulate."
marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch18.htm

Adam Edwards
Adam Edwards

You'd be caught in a never-ending quest to determine whose education is worth more than another's,
No you wouldn't. Free education means you don't pay extra on the basis of education. Developed labor power expresses itself in density of labor. As well, one goal of communism is abolishing the division of labor. This means bringing all workers up to an advanced level, educating them in their field.

- That people will simply trade goods in-kind and operate a black market,
Barter is much more difficult than trading with money. People will only even attempt to do this if the economy is tanking.

- Shenanigans with the disbursers of vouchers handing out overpayments to friends, and punishing outsiders with lower pay while the put-upon lowpays are saddled with most of the work.
Corruption like this will be easier to track with computerized banking and payment, as well as services allowing citizens to anonymously report bad actors or provide video evidence. You can even make payrolls and things of that nature public record. Some capitalist countries do that.

The law of value applies to labor in the abstract. It is purely meant for analyzing capitalism, not a rubric.
You can't eliminate the fact that you only have so many man hours in a year and a corresponding social product. It's a physical limit of the system. You need a way to allocate the resources.

William Martinez
William Martinez

In a planned economy, we should know what workers are capable of producing, what they need,
How do you know what they need though? Even with modern machine learning, Amazon, Google, and all the other big data companies can't predict what specific product an individual will buy.

Thomas Lee
Thomas Lee

Someone says "I want X quantity of Y item", obviously.

Jose Martin
Jose Martin

you can't plan ahead for every instance of that, and you'd still need to keep track of how much they've put in and withdrawn from society

Hunter Thompson
Hunter Thompson

You asked how to measure aggregate demand and I gave you the obvious answer. Amazon has no difficulty determining when someone has ordered something off their site and stocks their warehouses based on reasonable expectations of prior requests. What you're describing is the old calculation problem which was debunked a long time ago (by the logic of the Austrian School, even).

I don't know how many times I have to repeat that the LTV is a theory concerning labor in the abstract, in order to describe long-run trends of labor and the market and the tendencies of capitalism. It is necessary in order to explain why capitalism does what it does. In the real world though, labor is concrete, expansion cannot continue forever, and natural resource limitations are a thing. Any rational plan isn't just going to be a matter of labor inputs, but a long-term plan concerning the use of limited natural resources. We have a ridiculous amount of labor available to us, so much that the capitalists don't know what to do with it and want to kill off large swaths of the population for living space. It would probably be counterproductive to even try to force all of those people to work, or force people to submit to asinine requirements to prove disability in order to get out of working (which just leads to malingering anyway and taxing the system to support the disabled). What you can do is distribute the labor in a more rational way, so that you don't have people working 60-70 hour weeks while others sit unemployed and want to work. You're not going to get some idealized system where everyone gets exactly what they deserve, and in practice there ARE going to be imbalances and some people who are put-upon more than others. No simple scheme is going to resolve that question.

Owen Turner
Owen Turner

What you're describing is the old calculation problem which was debunked a long time ago
what? no, I'm saying you can't predict individual consumption patterns. You have to put things in a store or warehouse and let people choose. Which is the extent of the "market" that Marx and Cock are advocating.

Jordan Perry
Jordan Perry

I don't know how many times I have to repeat that the LTV is a theory concerning labor in the abstract,
Do you even know what you're saying? Every scientific theory concerns its subject matter in the abstract. F=ma is abstract! Fuck off revisionist idealist.

Daniel Parker
Daniel Parker

Read what I wrote instead of being a dingbat. We observe the concrete results of Newton's laws of motion in an immediate way, such that they are good enough for us to use for almost every practical physics problem. The LTV describes the collective pool of labor in society in the abstract, but humans don't work abstract labor-hours producing the same result every time, not individually and not in a factory unit. The productivity of labor in capitalism needs to be constantly enforced, which can be quite an unpleasant process when you look at it.

You're being the idealist here, bub. I'm telling you how a planned economy would work in practice, based on what I have read about other planned economies and my own common sense from actually working.

Why do you think the retail model will even be a thing in the future? Retail is already losing ground to the warehouses of the 21st century, as people just order their stuff online. Even grocers are allowing for online shopping. In any event, the store itself has to stock based on reasonable expectations of demand, based on previous sales in their area. This question doesn't require the retailer to ask how many hours their customers worked in a direct way, and usually the big stores accept food stamps and other forms of charity, not to mention the money people make from what property rights they have in capitalism. Only on a macro scale do you need to look at labor inputs, and as I mentioned a thorough plan isn't just going to look at labor-time inputs to determine what can be produced and how to distribute it. For the contents of the store, the same process to essentially request item X in quantity Y repeats, although it's the store requesting to refill its stock based on what they expect people to want from them.

I worked in retail so I have some sense of how this distribution system works. It's actually quite amazing how much can go wrong, and just how much labor is put into moving goods from the production line to the end consumer, and just how much effort is wasted on silly things like contracts for shelf space and other shenanigans that would have no place in a planned socialist system. But that's a whole other rant. The point is, distribution is a really, really big deal, especially when it involves scarce supplies of fuel to move stuff from point to point. Just looking at a labor-time table is not going to be a sufficient or sustainable model for distribution.

Elijah Mitchell
Elijah Mitchell

observe the concrete results of Newton's laws of motion in an immediate way, such that they are good enough for us to use for almost every practical physics problem. The LTV describes the collective pool of labor in society in the abstract, but humans don't work abstract labor-hours producing the same result every time, not individually and not in a factory unit.
Very strained comparison, Newtonian physics is abstracted from different behaviors from different materials, elements, conditions, etc. Leaving aside that it doesn't apply on the quantum level, it's still correct and applicable in many cases. The LTV is literally a theory of physics, Marx didn't intend any different in upholding it.

The productivity of labor in capitalism needs to be constantly enforced,
Productivity of labor is bounded by the MOP, you are thinking of density of labor. Both productivity and density of labor in communism are still necessitated by the dialectical relation between human beings and nature. If we collectively get too lazy, none of us will eat! And aside from that, we need to work hard to stop global warming.

Why do you think the retail model will even be a thing in the future? Retail is already losing ground to the warehouses of the 21st century, as people just order their stuff online.
This is a bourgeois/aristo phenomenon. It is more efficient to have stores near dense populations who go and get their stuff than it is to have extra workers driving around with truckloads of boxes to drop off at each door. It's ok for some goods to be ordered on line, but the VAST majority of goods (groceries for instance) are picked up at a store and aren't well-suited to online shipping.

Only on a macro scale do you need to look at labor inputs,
So how do you stop wreckers and saboteurs from ordering loads of stuff?

The point is, distribution is a really, really big deal, especially when it involves scarce supplies of fuel to move stuff from point to point
So you propose letting everyone just order as much shit as they want online and having it shipped right to their door?

Nicholas Turner
Nicholas Turner

Why do you think a voucher system is immune to wreckers?

Alexander Cruz
Alexander Cruz

How do you assign a value to labour?

1 hour labour = 1 hour labour vouchers minus tax for the upkeep of infrastructure, healthcare, non-working population etc.

Is a train driver's 40 hours a week of labour worth more than a surgeon's 8 hours a week of labour where he saves people's lives?

Wage differentials can easily be assigned by way of multipliers conditioned on amount of training required for the job, hazard pay, uncomfortable working hours etc. As long as we have public oversight and public input and we maintain income differentials well below what we have today this is a trivial issue.

And does the productivity and necessity of labour increase it's value? Is a factory worker's labour worth more than an artist's labour?

The point of socialism is to make every man an artist, every man a philosopher, every man a scholar. If you as a socialist care more about professional culture creators rather than making sure that every person has the time, access and material preconditions in order to create art themselves, then you simply have the wrong priority.

I want to make amateur art flourish, fretting to much about professional artists and assigning them a higher priority is a gateway to petty bourgeois ideology.

Luis Cruz
Luis Cruz

The system isn't 100% perfect therefore we need to keep money

Man you sound ridiculous.

You also act like a labor voucher system has NO material balance accounting at all, which is a fucking stupid strawman. Of course the planners are going to look at not only the labor time but the resources used! These two do not contradict each other. And it has already been established that many goods and services would be free of charge anyway so that the vouchers would only be used for certain aspects of consumer retail.

muh people will barter!!!!

Guess what retard, they bartered using your precious money system too when the USSR collapsed.

And what the fuck do you propose then? Have people keep money until Day X arrives and Lenin comes from his grave and tells us GUIS WE CAN NOW ABOLISH MONEY :DDDDDDD and everybody goes like OGEI I WILL THROW AWAY ALL MY ACCUMULATIONS HURRAY :DDDDDD

Christian Peterson
Christian Peterson

None of the shits you mentioned were good counter-arguments at all. Replacing labor vouchers with money is one of the fool-proof ways to destroy the bourgeoisie from existing because they can then no longer sustain themselves from exploitation.
INB4 b-b-but muh barter
Just admit you are some sort of left liberal faggot and move on with it.

Nathan Sanchez
Nathan Sanchez

This motherfucker is acting like all the problems he named don't exist in capitalism as well, and are even worse there because there is no central planning bureau with universal oversight of transactions and a much higher probability of crime due to traceless paper money existing.

Matthew Hernandez
Matthew Hernandez

This debate should actually be worded as a controversy between free access to goods and a currency/credit system. The latter can use banknotes but this may end up playing a subsidiary role to digital transactions. You can just call the notes dollars, rubles, or labor vouchers/notes/checks/whatever but fundamentally they are notes that are either taken in by a state enterprise or terminated on-purchase. There are a thousand different ways to go about with the second scheme but I'll take it for granted here that it is 1000x times more feasible than free access.

Of course, there is also the possibility of using a rationing system, and there are a few ways to add variety to this system too. You can just give everyone the same exact ration, which would be bizarre and inefficient. You could try to remedy this by sorting allocation of goods into tiers based on output, skill, hours worked or some other scheme but in the end this really just wouldn't work out. It would be better than a free access economy though.

Noah Brown
Noah Brown

labor vouchers basically become money in another form, since the goods they produce could just enter a black market and an unofficial exchange rate would be established. so that's not really a desirable outcome.
? Suppose people get consumer items according to the official rules of some mechanism and then, if they expect benefit, they try to deal with them on a black market. Can a black market develop, and not as some dealing that works out once in a blue moon, but something that big groups of people repeatedly engage in and start to rely on?
services and goods that immediately perish
Taking a freshly made hotdog you just received to resell on the black market? Not an issue.
extremely huge and/or heavy stuff
Don't see that really becoming much of an issue either.
stuff that is linked to your ID and constantly tracked via computer network (and when tracking fails, default is you are assumed guilty of causing that)
Not an issue.
durable things that are easy to transport and don't have embedded surveillance tech
Depends. If there are things that are free or very low price (so demand is higher than what's in stock) with an added per-person maximum (and there are different products this applies to, not just the quantity of one particular thing), this gives people an incentive to ask for more than they need for themselves to have something to barter with. The black-market trades, whatever their volume, could easily have completely different exchange ratios then what is implied by the official prices.

But if consumer items in short supply are rationed by increasing price (as proposed by Cockshott and Cottrell) instead of having a per-person maximum, then getting things in high demand is expensive and the exchange ratios on the black market will just reflect the official prices. And with these ratios being about the same, what motivation do you have to barter? It's just a niche phenomenon then, e. g. you have luck that the price of something goes up drastically just after you bought one of these things, so you trade.

I think your post is very silly.

Daniel Davis
Daniel Davis

Should it be a gift economy?
A gift economy requires coordination of some sort or else you'd have massive supply chain issues. You produce a certain number of rivets a year; where should they go? You must have a mechanism of regulating the production of every product and intermediate. Gift economies exist in societies with little division of labor and without any complex manufacturing processes, and under those conditions they're great.

Tyler Torres
Tyler Torres

I think Mutual Credit should also be considered. Mutual Credit can be made to function in a way like Labour Vouchers except it allows something best described as social debt. This basically is a midpoint between Labour Vouchers a Gift Economy and Bartering.

Josiah Murphy
Josiah Murphy

some soc dem facts:
all this nigger incel rage
Lmao eat a watermelon or something. You aren’t living his life. He doesn’t care about you. He would probably hate your attitude and knock you out cold after you screech about ‘muh BBC’. Fix your own life first, then talk. Go on about it like this:
Brush and floss your stained teeth
Shave off your neckbeard
Take a shower and start scrubbing the crust out of your fat folds
Maybe wash your dick cheese off after daily use while watching doujins also keep your rubbing the Peter down to under once a day so your prostate doesn’t get fucked
Even if you can’t see it, people will smell it from 10 metres afar
You probably were too lazy to use paper towels while fapping, time to clean your stinking bedsheets and wipe the dried cum off your greasy chair
Also don’t forget to wash your ass, wouldn’t want to attract the flies again, would you
Shave your jungle armpits and your baboon crotch
Then have a cold shower for 5 minutes
If you’re too much of a bitch unironically neck yourself.
Tada, first step done.

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Cameron Allen
Cameron Allen

It is fucking over bros. The only gift the capitalist overlord can give is is a fast death.
IT IS FUCKING OVER
PIGGY HAS WON
goodbye bros

Hudson Young
Hudson Young

can only agree blackpillbro, it is fucking over
our movement, our revolution is gone

Grayson Cruz
Grayson Cruz

We live in dark times! It is over, the humans deserve it.

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