The Creation of Value by Living Labour Vol.1
A Normative and Empirical Study
The book draws on Professor Cheng Enfu’s “New Four Theory” on value, wealth, and distribution, among which the “new living labor value theory” is particularly creative. The theory precisely follows Marx’s train of thought in his analysis of material production, and extends it to all social and economic sectors.
The book draws on Professor Cheng Enfu’s “New Four Theory” on value, wealth, and distribution, among which the “new living labor value theory” is particularly creative. Its basic idea is as follows. According to Marx, all labor that directly produces physical and mental or cultural goods for exchange in the markets, or direct services for the production and reproduction of labor goods, including internal management labor and scientific and technical labor, falls in the category of value-creating labor or labor of production. The theory precisely follows Marx’s train of thought in his analysis of material production, and extends it to all social and economic sectors.
A second obstacle to understanding the specific role of labor in emergent labor-intensive technologies is the exclusive focus of neoclassical economics on private production. The underlying assumption is that of an ideal system of production conducted by entirely distinct legal entities, each producing only for the market and interacting with others only through the market.
But the results of mental productive activities such as scientific labor, creative labor, and even management, increasingly take the form a general acquisition for society, which is therefore inherently social. Marx referred to this as “general social labor.” Private labor, within an enterprise, draws both on this general social labor and on the inputs that it acquires through the market. The same also applies to much cultural labor, which forms part of the process through which labor power itself is reproduced, not least shaping its productive powers. The most obvious example of this is education, which even neoclassicals have to recognize, up to a point, as a “public good”.
China’s economy involves a combination of ownership forms – public, private, and co-operative. Moreover, these ownership forms, under the definite and distinct conditions of Chinese society, are not necessarily the same as their formally identical equivalents in Western society, in exactly the same way that land ownership in 18th-century England, though formally the same as that prevailing in the French ancien régime of the same date, had already assumed capitalist characteristics far removed from those swept away in the revolution of 1789.
Even completely private capital operates under significantly greater and even qualitatively different public constraints in China than those found in fully capitalist economies, and is able to call on public resources that are not found in the same form. It is of course true that public constraints and resources exist in all societies, even those that proudly proclaim their capitalist character. However much neoclassical economics ignores this fact, and speaks as if all production were as private as the monads of Leibnitz. As a result, it has to deploy elaborate circumlocutions to deny the obvious fact that government, education, health, caregiving, and countless other public activities not only contribute to the value and wealth of society, but form an indispensable mental infrastructure without which private production could not even take place, any more than it could subsist without air, water, or sunshine. Western theory does not even grant government, let alone the public realm, the status of a factor of production. No wonder it cannot account for China’s growth.
Why this book? Questions, methods, and origins Framework and contents Key viewpoints and conclusions Structure of the book
2. The history of value theory
Early value theories Basic definitions The measurement of exchange value (value) Deficiencies of the classical economists Value theories of the opponents of classical economics Comprehensive value theory The labor theory of value of Karl Marx The basic categories of Marx’s scientific system The two properties of commodity: use value and value The analysis of pricing The form of value The relationship between supply, demand, and market price The marginal revolution
3. After Marx: research into the labor theory of value
Western scholars of labor value theory A summary of Chinese economists’ views on Marx’s labor value theory
4. Main theoretical positions on productive labor
Changes in the means of labor: an analysis of the connotation and the denotation of labor The theory of productive labor Research on the reduction of complex to simple labor
5. Value creation in material production
The creation of value under automation How can the value and surplus value of the products increase when there are fewer workers in the automated factories? The relationship between productiveness and value Productive and unproductive labor in material production The production of surplus value and exploitation A correct understanding of exploitation
6. Labor and value in cultural production
Culture and cultural products The permanent nature of cultural use value The high knowledge content of cultural commodities The shareability of cultural commodities Value creation by cultural labor Labor supply and demand in the cultural industries
7. Empirical studies in value creation by labor in cultural production
Living labor in the cultural industries Comparative studies at international level on value creation by labor in cultural production
8. Value creation by labor in the service industries
Historical review of theories of the service economy The concept of tertiary industry Value creation by labor in service industries Studies of labor productivity in the service industries
9. Value creation by labor, science and technology, and management
Classifications and characteristics of S&T labor Value creation by S&T labor: a theoretical framework
10. The magnitude of value created by S&T labor
Introduction Forms of realization of S&T labor Practical evaluation of S&T outcomes The options pricing model: a new evaluative approach Empirical studies of value creation by S&T labor Value creation by scientific labor in business establishments Comparative studies at international level on value creation by S&T labor
11. Value creation by management labor
Contents and characteristics of management labor activities The nature and requirements of management labor The logical investigation of value creation by management labor Path analysis of value creation by management labor How to understand the labor of capitalists Empirical analysis of value creation by management labor with market value as reference
A breath of fresh air from China, this fascinating book lifts a veil from the influence of Marxist thinking in China’s economic successes. It shows how debates initiated by Marxists lie at the forefront of a blend of policies whose striking achievements have little to do with Western economic orthodoxy. A major contribution to Marxist theory and a highly practical work, it confronts the complexity and uniqueness of China’s economic miracle by developing Marxism in exciting and innovative ways. Offering Western readers an unparalleled introduction to the dynamism and breadth of Chinese Marxist thinking, it extends the boundaries of political economy in creative and productive directions of world-wide importance.
—Alan Freeman, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba
Prof. Cheng Enfu’s “Shanghai School” of Marxist economics has brought together a group of Chinese scholars, whose work has unusual depth and breadth. Starting from classical Marxist foundations, with the theory of value at its center, they have studied both early and present-day sources, both Marxist and non-Marxist, from both China and around the world. The book uses qualitative analysis and quantitative methods, in theoretical and empirical applications. But this work is not just exposition and development of theory. The authors also apply their concept of value creation, derived from Marx but by no means rigidly confined to his ideas, to vital matters of policy, especially relevant to today’s China and to the current explosion of high-tech services, managerial and cultural labor. Anyone interested in the Marxist political economy tradition, or in the present-day world and China’s place in it, cannot afford to miss this volume.
—David Laibman, Professor Emeritus, Economics, City University of New York Editor, Science & Society
This book is certainly a landmark, a mile-stone in the research of Marxist Labor theory! Expounds on the essence of Marx’s “theory of value” and its contemporary form Professor Cheng Enfu et.al. have not only explored the existing huge continent, but demonstrated an innovative approach.
—Jean Claude Delaunay, Paris-East University
The book demonstrates that the labour that produces material and spiritual goods directly for the purpose of market exchange and that directly serves the production and reproduction of labour commodities, including the management labor and scientific and technical labor, are all value-creating or productive labor. The authors of this book have long studied and explored the development of Marx’s labor theory of value and have put forward a new point of view. It is different from the view that only material production creates new values for commodities. The book is scientifically innovative and worth studying.
—Wang Zhiwei, Professor of Beijing University, Consultant of the Chinese and Foreign Economic Studies Association
Publication date: 2019
Page extent: 260
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