No Labour Vouchers in the USSR

Why weren't there labour vouchers in the Soviet Union or any other so called socialist nations?

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Ummmm I'll take one (1) Reddit Labour Voucher pls

wow so necessary to write that very helpful thanks!

Passive-aggression has no place within the ranks of the communist parties. The weak and the cowardly must step aside, they will only get in the way of the red cause.

Read a fucking book.

it aint socialist

labor can't be measured separated from capital since wealth=capital+labor

A labour voucher system requires three things that they did not have, in order to work well:

1. A good way to prevent forgery and transfer. Their vouchers could only be paper based, not digital as they are today, and as such were easy to forge.
2. A good information infrastructure and the ability to process large amounts of data. In a labour voucher system you need to be able to automatically find suspicious behaviour (cheating). This means comparing performance of industries versus other ones, keeping track of produce, etc. The modern day fraud detection is only possible because of computers.
3. The ability to plan a whole economy. Labour vouchers require all industry to work in-kind, kind of like a giant single entity, not charging each other anything. Only at the consumer-product level do labour vouchers come into play, only at the final step of distribution/rationing. A car factory does not pay the steelmill anything, it just takes the steel it needs. To be able to run this economy, you need to be able to plan a whole economy in-kind, without involving a reduction to a single measure of value. Labour vouchers only serve as a means of rationing, and optionally a way to measure consumer demand.

In the USSR, their only real choice was to plan in the aggregate on a very abstract level. (make this much tons of coal, this much tons of grain, this much tons of steel). While this did work to a certain extend, the individual units of the economy had to keep a record of some sort of "credits" that they had to "purchase" the resources they needed from the other units, and they "sold" their products. This was all on paper, but this does not change the fact that the economy itself was currency based. The state subsidised industries operating at a loss if they wished so, but this was not really done for calculated reasons. The USSR could not operate in a different way at that point in time, because there simple were no computers capable of planning in kind, a "computer" back then was a human who computer, a human number cruncher. They had to involve a quasi-market money based system. As such, it made little sense to implement labour vouchers.

It is only today with our current computing power and algorithms that we can use planning in-kind, and as such use labour vouchers instead of currency. Cockshott has said in paper related that at the current point of computing power and LO algorithms, the full economy of a country can be calculated in-kind, including alternative manufacturing methods, factory placement options, etc, in reasonable (workable) time.

Partially true. It would be hard, but you can calculate the value of capital in terms of labour time, as all capital is made with labour + capital (which is also labour, turtles all the way down). At any given point, you could start charging prices in the labour time. You would set the labour value of capital to either 0, an approximation of its labour time, or an arbitrary number. Each iteration of the production, the labour value you calculate would approach its true value more, as the labour value contributed by the pre-calculated capital would decrease as a percentage of the total capital.
Capital is abstract labour.

It was pretty much impossible in the beginning, when USSR was still at the stage of primitive accumulation and when it was already possible, they didn't feel like doing that anyways, because Stalin has at last discovered that socialism is compatible with wagecuckoldry.

That was embarassing to read

State-owned decentralized neural networks planning stuff and min(t)ing money to fund decentralized state infrastructure like universities and healthcare etc

Meaning here non-convertible regional cryptocurrencies mined by the state and allocated/hoarded accordingly to needs of long-term economic planning.

Are you just going to spout buzzwords about shit you know nothing about?

Stop it, there are actual retards here who think "decentralized planning" is a thing.

You would have to consider the whole history of humanity in order to say that it's labor all the way down, and therefore it can't be calculated.

For example, for the grain harvested using a scythe do you only consider how much time it takes to make the scythe at a machine shop or do you bring the machine shop into the picture? And if you bring the machine shop what else do you bring? Necessarily you have to bring the whole history of humanity.

You don't need to know it down to the planck second though. You need to know a good enough estimation. And every iteration of your calculation, it approaches the true labour time more.
Remember that markets work on reducing everything down to money, which has millions of hidden variables, and operates in a highly inert system of price signals. A market never in the slightest represents the true state of things. The labour time calculation will be vastly more accurate. Demanding that it be absolutely exact to the microsecond (despite that not adding any benefit whatsoever) makes absolutely no sense, its a nirvana fallacy.

Not the person you're responding to, but I would argue that in such calculations you begin with whatever tools, machinery, resources, and so on as your starting point of 1 or whatever. Based on this starting point you could then calculate the costs of what you need to produce to keep the process of production going (and thus, the economic system as a whole.)

If we imagine that tomorrow some country socializes (that is, nationalizes without compensation) all land, resources, and industry. The initial economic calculations would begin from the starting point of what it costs to produce given the current level of development. You wouldn't need to calculate all the labor inputs going back to the beginning of human history. You start at 1 and calculate values based on current levels of productivity. What you need to find are the inputs required to begin each economic activity or circuit of production.


Let's say you inherit a piece of land. What's the price of that piece of land to you? Nothing - because it's already yours. It would make no sense to include the land (capital) in the valuation of goods you produce. If you decide to plant a cornfield and sell the produce, how would you value the product? You would value it based upon the cost involved in tilling the land, fertilizing, gathering and planting seeds, etc. Each of these activities would have a definite cost in terms of man-hours even assuming all your material inputs were coming from the land itself. The capital would play no role in the value of your product. But let us imagine that you have built your own plow, accumulated seed stock, raised an animal to pull the plow, and so on. All of this is clearly your capital. But how would you breakdown the value of that capital? Again, in terms of the man-hours it cost you to accumulate. The point isn't that everything is reducible to labor, since clearly you'd be extracting use-value from the land and nature itself. The point, however, is that this use-value can become capital only after you have engaged in productive labor and transformed those use-values into something economically useful. In short, capital arises from labor and the cost of accumulating capital is a function of labor and its productivity.

Now, let's say that your son inherits your land. There is a field already cleared, the soil is of good quality, there is access to a workhorse or some animal to pull the plow, and also a number of already-built tools and implements. His cost of production begins at a different starting point. He does not need to include in his costs the activities done before. He can begin producing goods immediately and simply "pay" the costs of maintaining production. This is why Marx stated that the value of commodities depends upon living labor and not total realized labor.

Ah yes, I almost forgot that one. Thanks lad.

Let me explain simply how to calculate the labour time costs of any given product in any given time, without knowing the labour time that went into the resources already at hand.

Say you have oil, which requires 0.4 units of oil and 2 labour hours to produce per unit. Say that you also have wheat which requires 0.2 units of oil, 0.1 units of wheat and 1 labour hour to produce per unit. And some bread which takes 0.1 oil, 0.2 wheat and 1 labour hour.
See pic related. First set the initial value of the resources to zero, then calculate the costs. They will be equal to only the labour times. Then recalculate it, but take the previously calculated values at the cost for the resources. Repeat.

This user is 10000% correct. The labour value does not depend on how much time was put in at some point ever in history, but depends on how much time it costs at this moment to reproduce it.

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Here's a visual aid.

The labor-unputs needed to calculate values are measured starting from the initial point of production with whatever tools or resources are available at that time.

Things get confusing because each circuit of production depends on previous ones going back throughout economic history. But the values produced by previous economic activities meet us in terms of the use-values they allow us to exploit in the present, resulting in a specific level of development or productivity.

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Don't make it about microseconds, I already gave you the example of the scythe.

Again with the scythe. If you say wealth=labor+historical_labor why only consider the historical labor contained in the scythe and not the historical labor contained in the machine shop it was made in and the historical labor contained in the steel mill the steel came from, which goes back to the long drawn-out process that was the mastery of fire, the invention of the first primitive tools and of language?

The moment you say historical labor instead of capital you're necessarily bringing everything into account.

You could say the correct price of something is that at which it does not get resold.

Let's try to digest this part. Price is what you pay and value is what you get. You start with the assets of the nationalized economy, but the current levels of productivity are value denominated in price, and it's the same for the inputs of a company. And you give us no way to denominate value using labor.

Of course it makes sense if without the land you can't produce them.

Maybe if I was Robinson Crusoe I would value it at the cost of tilling the land. But what about if I'm not Robinson Crusoe? Additional potential values emerge.

Again ridiculous. It's no different from saying "if you have a scythe it plays no role because you already have it."

If you have built your own plow, how would you breakdown… Again, only if I was Robinson Crusoe. From now on I'm calling labor vouchers "Crusoe Vouchers."

I corrected myself here. The labour value of a product is its socially avarage labour time, not the specific thing itself. It does not matter if an old sythe took 10 hours to make, if we can make a new one in an hour now.
And the historical labour is an inconsequential part of the total labour that went into something, considering deprecation and all the other labour that went into it recently. The time it took to build a chisel or the building that makes millions upon millions of scythes has is almost zero proportional to the labour time that went into the scythe directly.
And again, what matters is the socially necessary labour time, not the historical labour, there can be calculated at any given point in time with the method I showed here.

Correct by what standard? And how does this at all discredit my point that the market can never capture the true cost of something?

this thread is now explaining labor vouchers and not explaining why the USSR didn't use them

Because the person responding to us doesnt understand them
Also, that is how conversations work.
If you want interactions, perhaps respond to the comments explaining the original answer would help.

can't use them if they aren't viable

This only really works in contrived economies with only bulk commodities like coal. So let's consider companies operating different coal mines.

The measure is [kg coal/hour/worker]. A company manages 20, another 5. Average time for 10 kg is one hour, for 1 kg six minutes. So if you get a labor point for each minute, the first company is able to get 12 while the second gets 3, is that correct?

Now, the source of contention with this would be in the quantity, isn't it? What if the miners say mining coal is difficult and it is the gram that should be valued per minute. And so in everything.

Fucking wrong.

Depends on the context.
Under a labour voucher system, all employees would receive the an hour worth of labour tokens for one hour of work. Why? Because society as a whole has planned them in to mine the coal, they do the work that society requires, and get paid accordingly. Paying one more or the other less because society assigned them to less productive mines or machines makes no sense.
In the capitalist system, the first company would produce 2 hours worth of coal (in socially neccecary labour time) and the other half an hour worth of coal, and get paid accordingly. The second mine would likely close down, unless the price of coal is sufficiently large to continue producing, in which case the owner of mine A would gain superprofits.

Please explain why
Hard mode: "Individual boxes of cereal have different qualities and therefore you cannot compare them" is not a valid answer.

the average labour time of coal would simply be the total amount of time used to extract coal divided by the total amount of time used to do it, is this so hard to understand?

the average labour time of coal would simply be the total amount of time used to extract coal divided by the total amount of time used to do it, is this so hard to understand?

*divided by the weight of the coal

In Marxist terms the price is a reflection of the value of commodities in a capitalist economy.
Each firm within the market economy measures its inputs in kind as well as in price. During the nationalization phase one can discard measurement in terms of currency entirely since its only a reflection of the underlying materials, machinery, and labor-time.
Firms in a capitalist economy already measure the amount of man-hours required to produce goods. It would be no different in that regard.
And if it cost you nothing to acquire how would you measure its value?
I think you've missed the entire point of the example.
A thing only has value if it has a cost.
I kept my example limited since you seem to have difficulty understanding these concepts.

I've asked the same question myself, and it's one that needs to be answered. I need to do some research on the early War Communism days of the USSR.

It's possible to de-bulkify but you run into additional problems.

1. The quantification is arbitrary and apt for contention: "industry X is hard" problem.

2. So long as a company is the single manufacturer of a product model, they must base its valuation on inputs even if a possible product model might require half the inputs but double the labor; this skews production towards high-input, low-labor products. (I say product model in order to de-bulkify, so that instead of your product being "shirts" it must be one or more technical models of a shirt). If another company starts production they enter problem 1.

3. Burocratic capacity required to verify that the manufacture of a product model by a company is comforming to its technical specifications.

What is this problem? I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

Ah, but here you are wrong.
See, if you looked AT MY FUCKING EXPLAINATION HERE you would know that you can calculate a precise labour value of all products without requiring any prior knowledge. And since you now know the labour value of all inputs, you can pick the best product to produce, or the best production method, etc.

Consumer protection and quality standards exist in every nation, it takes almost no manpower. And if you have two different companies producing the same thing (which will not give any problems btw), it becomes even easier, since they can just check each other.

labour vouchers and other monetary payment were basically far less important in soviet society because subsidized, centrally planned economies allow for the first 2-3 tiers of Maslows Pyramid to be covered, making money a largely secondary thing for personal whims rather than a primary need.

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Capitalists being hypocrites? Who'da known?!

There actually was a socialist country with a labor based currency.

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So, state assigned waifus it is then?

I don't know! Having paper voucher that shows some value that could then be exchanged to labor of others in form of food, housing and items sounds genius. The only reason capitalist countries don't have something like this is because they are STUPID. Fuck porky!

Either explain what's your problem with it or fuck off back to /containment/

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Wrong though. Nazi germany did not use labour vouchers, despite what that one quote nazis like to circulate implies.