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New Left Review 56, March-April 2009


ROBIN BLACKBURN

VALUE THEORY AND THE CHINESE WORKER

A Reply to Geoff Mann

Geoff Mann raises some vital issues in this comment, and notwithstanding his generous characterization of my argument in ‘The Subprime Crisis’, on some important points he actually misconstrues it. [1] See Geoff Mann, ‘Colletti on the Credit Crunch’, nlr 56, commenting on Blackburn, ‘The Subprime Crisis’, nlr 50, March–April 2008. For more details on these measures see my Age Shock, London 2007, and nlrs 34 and 47. I agree with him, firstly, that value theory, properly understood, supplies an essential conceptual framework for analysing the crisis; and, secondly, contrary to what he suggests, I do not think that regulation alone has any hope of providing a solution. While the measures that I very briefly referenced in the last few paragraphs of my article were far from fully socialist, nor were they simply aimed at rescuing capitalism. I prefer to put them in the framework of transitional measures that address the deep crisis in effective ways—reviving credit by specific acts of expropriation which would benefit new collective and democratic institutions, in the shape of a network of social funds. By itself such a network does not suppress capitalism; yet it aims to use capitalist property forms in order to transcend them and socialize capital.

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