Talk:Josiah Warren

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Clarification of cost principle[edit]

Until some source makes it clear that Warren's "cost principle" was intended only to apply within the context of "labor for labor" exchange, then we need to keep the two issues separate. Warren seems to have been thinking more broadly. For example, his criticism of the Rochdale cooperatives is not that they don't work on a labor-exchange basis, but that they charged above cost. In general, we need to be cautious about generalizations. There's going to be a lot of Warren-related material seeing the light of day soon in connection with Crispin Sartwell's Warren anthology. Libertatia 18:12, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't get what you're saying. "Cost" for him isn't referring to a monetary price, but to labor itself. It's from Adam Smith, who held that the true cost of anything is how much labor it took to produce it. The cost of some item may be 1 hour of labor, the cost of another is 2 hours, for example. It's what Smith referred to as "real cost" as opposed to "nominal cost" (monetary price). What Smith was saying is accurate. The "real cost" of anything to you is how much effort it took you to acquire it. The "nominal cost" is how much money you paid for it.Anarcho-capitalism 18:15, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Reverting without waiting for an explanation is bad form. There are two issues here: 1) the cost principle, and 2) labor for labor exchange. Warren treated them separately in at least some of his writings. That needs to be respected in order to be clear. Libertatia 18:18, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
"Labor for labor" exchange is a more specific principle than any of the LTVs. Don't confuse them. Libertatia 18:19, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Saying that the just price of a thing is it's labor cost is the normative labor theory of value.Anarcho-capitalism 18:23, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
There is the simple labor theory of value from Smith and Ricardo which said that goods naturally trade at exchange ratios determined by how much labor was exerted to produce them. Then there is Warren's normative version, which says that it is equitable if they do trade in such proportion, and unequitable if they don't.Anarcho-capitalism 18:28, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I still don't understand your objection to noting that "cost" is referring to labor itself. Would you like me to source it?Anarcho-capitalism 18:31, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I mispoke slightly. "Labor for labor" exchange is a specific practice, grounded in a LTV. Many, many proponents of LTVs did not believe labor exchange to be necessary to their system. This is basic mutualism: markets and monetary exchange could achieve just prices when freed from government interference. Warren appears to have believed that the "cost principle" was important and applicable to systems, such as the Rochdale coops, which engaged in monetary transactions. Yes. For proponents of LTVs, labor is going to be the basis of value, and "quantity of labor" is going to form some important part of "just price." But an LTV has never committed one to a "cost principle." (The argument of the Rochdale coops makes as much sense as Warren's, probably.) And a "cost principle" does not commit one to labor exchange as a practice. This is really quite simple, and keeping it straight will help us as documents from the various experiments in equitable commerce become available for our use. Libertatia 18:38, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Warren thought that only equitiable price (not value as in worth, but exchange value) of something is it's labor cost. Do you dispute that? We're talking about Warren, and for him it does commit one to trading items at ratios proportional to their labor costs.Anarcho-capitalism 18:43, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

"A watch has a cost and a value. The COST consists of the amount of labor bestowed on the mineral or natural wealth, in converting it into metal...The value of a well-made watch, depends upon the natural qualities of the metals or minerals employed, upon the natural qualities or principles of its mechanism, upon the uses to which it is applied, and upon the fancy or wants of the purchaser. It would be different with every different watch, with every purchaser, and would change every day in the hands of the same purchaser, and with every different use to which he applied it. Now, among this multitude of values, which one should be selected to set a price upon? or, should the price be made to vary and fluctuate according to these fluctuating values!...? Common sense answers NEITHER, but, that these values, like those of sunshine and air, are of right, the equal property of all; no one having a right to set any price whatever upon them. COST, then, is the only rational ground of price, even in the most complicated transactions; yet, value is made almost entirely the governing principle in almost all the commerce of what is called civilized society!" -A Warren in Equitable CommerceAnarcho-capitalism 18:54, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

"If a priest is required to get a soul out of purgatory, he sets his price according to the value which the relatives set upon his prayers, instead of their cost to the priest. This, again, is cannibalism. The same amount of labor equally disagreeable, with equal wear and tear, performed by his customers, would be a just remuneration." -A Warren in Equitable CommerceAnarcho-capitalism 18:57, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

As quoted in the article, he also thought it would make the economy more efficent to trade on that principle. He didn't seem to be aware that the profit motive is what induces people to lower their own labor costs. Machines are invented to reduce the amount of labor one has to exert in order to increase profits. If you invent such a machines, or some kind of process that is more efficient, you allow yourself to make more money while still charging the same amount of money for the same good. To expect someone to lower his prices because he invented a way to exert less labor, just to be "equitable," is pretty crazy. That is not to say that people do not often lower their prices when they become more efficient, but the reason they're doing that is to undercut the competition and therefore increase profits. "Labor for labor" is just too alien to human nature and that's why "value for value" trade endures.Anarcho-capitalism 19:34, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

biographical section[edit]

I'm started to sketch out the "Life" section, using material from Bailie's Josiah Warren, George Warren's account, and Josiah Warren's own reminiscences in various publications. Libertatia 19:24, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

If anyone wants to help flesh this out, Crispin Sartwell's timeline and my bibliography may be of use. Libertatia 20:09, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

An anarchist?[edit]

Proudhon is established by history as the first self-identified anarchist. He did so in 1840. The newspaper, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was published in 1833. What we are left with, then, is a time paradox. The Peaceful Revolutionist may have inspired contemporary anarchists, and may have promoted proto-anarchist philosophy, but it could not have been "anarchist" in any self-identifying sense. This is a label that is being applied after the fact, unless we can get a quote from Josiah Warren, in which he self-identifies as an anarchist and retroactively declares his newspaper to have been anarchist in scope. I move that references to this as an anarchist newspaper be removed until such a citation can be found.--Cast (talk) 22:48, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Warren disliked labels of all kinds, and was explicit about that. He was not a self-identified anarchist. But neither was much of anyone else prior to the early 1870s, when the split in the First International created the need for the various factions to differentiate themselves from one another. There are plenty of scholarly sources which identify Warren as an anarchist, so there isn't really a problem at all. Libertatia (talk) 18:39, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

First American Anarchist?[edit]

Calling Warren "first" is racist, since there were traditions of anarchism and at least anarchistic tendencies in many indigenous tribes before white settlers ever got here. This should at least be noted. (talk) 11:24, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Do you have a reliabel source for what you say? If so, please be bold and include it! скоморохъ 11:40, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Are you sure you are not confusing tribalism with anarchism? Or the very statist but decentralized and alien cultural/political structures of say... the Iroquois... with anarchy? -- ThorsMitersaw —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:46, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Warren's "unique contribution"?[edit]

I removed a strange claim that Warren was unique among "his group of anarchists" in applying a labor theory to value. The source apparently associates LTVs with Mill and Marx, but not Smith, Proudhon, Owen, and various others much closer to Warren. And I don't know who Warren's group are supposed to be, at the time he contributed. Overemphasizing "the LTV" is a mistake anyway, since Warren himself subjectivized labor "cost" in at least some of his writings. I can dig up the primary sources (again) if somebody wants to make an issue of it. Libertatia (talk) 19:14, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Warren never subjectived cost. Cost is always quantity of labor applied. There is nothing subjective about it. I'd like to see primary sources to prove your claim. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:59, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
See them you shall, then, when I get a minute. Libertatia (talk) 00:11, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
We could start with the fact that "quantity of labor" tells us nothing about the unit of quantity, so it's not even really controversial to suggest that cost was subjectivized. As often as we have fought about this point here, that should be clear by now. Now, for the first of several sources (Josiah Warren, "A Brief Outline of Equitable Commerce," The Boston Investigator, XXI, 50 (April 14, 1852), 3.): "Cost is understood to be essentially the degree or pain, or discomfort, or sacrifice we incur in what we do or submit to. Any thing, therefore, which Costs an equal amount of discomfort or sacrifice as the labor in a bushel of corn or wheat, is considered an equivalent for the bushel of corn or wheat." Cost for cost does not mean hour for hour, or any unit for that unit. Warren even suggested that inconvenience or laziness could be factored into cost (but I may need to get home to my other computer to search that out.) Libertatia (talk) 00:30, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
In The Science of Society, Stephen Pearl Andrews writes, with reference to Warren's system: "That in making the comparison, each individual must make his or her own estimate of the repugnance to him or her of the labour which he or she performs, &c." Given Warren's obsession with individualization of interests, what else would we expect, really? Libertatia (talk) 00:43, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
William Pare, of Ralahine, in his "Equitable Villages in America" (an early study of the Warren-Andrews system) wrote: "cost (or burden) goes to determine the price, and is solely cognizable by the seller or producer—by him who renders." Libertatia (talk) 00:45, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
We already know that he didn't advocate trade of equal HOURS of labor. He advocated trade of equal QUANTITIES of labor. Hours of labor is not quantity of labor. That's duration of labor. That fact that Warren recognizes this only affirms that his aim is to make sure that particular quantities of labor trade for equal quantities of labor. Now if a person is trying to determine how much labor is being employed in one task versus another task, then obviously he's rejecting subjective value/price. There would no need for him to try to determine how much labor was used. Labor would be irrelevant. That person would simply bargain to get the most of someone else was selling for as little as he was willing to pay in return. Richard Blatant (talk) 00:58, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Ahem. Try reading even just the material posted. Hard labor may be traded for long labor, and either may be traded for discomfort or inconvenience, and all of these will be explicitly conditioned by individual tastes. As long as everybody thinks that what they did was worth "a bushel of corn," then equitable commerce has occurred. Price is "solely cognizable by the seller or producer," that is, it is individually subjective. You simply assert that "quantity of labor" is something other than how much labor a given work felt like, to an individual. But Warren, Andrews and Pare all agree in asserting something else. Libertatia (talk) 01:08, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Anyone who is concerned about what something is "worth," is not accepting or comprehending subjective value. Subjective value means that there is no correct worth. It's subjective. In normal trading, people are not agreeing beforehand that something is "worth" a particular price. They're just agreeing to trade at a particular price based on supply and demand. That's not what Warren is in favor of. That's what he's against. Richard Blatant (talk) 01:45, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Says you. Warren, Andrews and Pare are clearly in disagreement with you about what they mean. You can keep asserting the contrary, but it's at best OR, and not very coherent OR at that. Libertatia (talk) 01:56, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
No, you just don't know what subjective value means and you clearly don't have a grasp on what Warren or any of this is about. "Cost the limit of price" is AGAINST supply and demand being the determinant of price. Richard Blatant (talk) 02:07, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, "cost the limit of price" is about, surprise, cost being the limit of price. "Subjective value" does indeed differ from "subjective cost." Your initial claim was that "Warren never subjectived cost. Cost is always quantity of labor applied. There is nothing subjective about it." And this is quite clearly not the case. To measure labor in "pain," as Warren does, is to subjectivize the measurement of the cost. It's simple, and it's what one would expect from Warren, given his emphasis on individualization. Libertatia (talk) 04:28, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
You didn't say "subjectivize the measurement of cost" earlier. You just said "subjectivized labor costs." Of course a PERSON has to measure labor to determine how much was used. That's all that subjectivization of measurement of cost would mean. The important thing is that he does not advocative subjectivizing labor costs. Labor costs are simply the amount of labor incurred. If we together estimate that 1 hour of me doing my job is the equivalent of you doing 2 hours of labor at your job, and we trade that, that is not subjectivization of cost. That is agreeing to a price based on our estimates of how much labor was incurred, in order to stay in keeping with "cost the limit of price." It's a labor theory of value, clearly. He does not support two people trading unequal quantities of labor because one person is willing to sell less labor for more labor. That would exploitation of the party selling more labor, according to him. There's no way around the fact that Warren was a subscriber to a labor theory of value, and completely so. Richard Blatant (talk) 04:48, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Hehe. Based on your editing style, your name, and your (lack of relevant) argument, I would guess we've been over this one a time or two before. Anyway, you made a bold claim, and you have been shown to be entirely incorrect. It doesn't help to now change the subject, or pretend that I have done so. Libertatia (talk) 05:24, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
You've been shown to be incorrect. Warren certainly does subscribe to a labor theory of value and he makes no exceptions to it. Richard Blatant (talk) 01:53, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
My claim is that Warren "subjectivized labor 'cost'." In order for that to be true, all we would have to show is that the determination of cost was dependent on the seller's perceptions, rather than on anything intrinsic in the item sold. Lo and behold, Warren's cost is "solely cognizable by the seller or producer." Case closed. Subjective cost or value means that there is no "correct" price or value apart from the individual's estimation. But it is no more necessary for equitable commerce to come up with a "correct" price, than it is for an Austrian capitalist, and it's simply silly for you to insist that setting a voluntary limit on the price you will charge is somehow an "incorrect price," or an intrinsic price, or something other than a price based in individual cognition. You may not have any concerns about carrying your own costs, but the sort of scrupulous concern that Warren expressed is certainly among the range of subjective factors which can determine price. Libertatia (talk) 04:18, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
No, the determination of cost is not dependent on the seller's perception. The cost is objective. The cost is always exactly the quantity of labor incurred, irrespective of the laborer's perception. The determination or measurement of HOW MUCH LABOR was incurred is dependent on the seller observation, not the determination of COST. The cost is always equal to the quantity of labor incurred, irrespective of subjective estimations of how much labor was incurred. It's an objective theory of value, not a subjective theory of value. Richard Blatant (talk) 04:28, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Please, the idea of labor being objective is absurd. Maybe someone believes that to be true, but you it is most certainly your burden to produce a source stating that Warren viewed it as such. All available sources indicate that he did not. - N1h1l (talk) 04:40, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
I didn't say labor was objective, whatever that means. I said cost is objective. Cost is always the amount of labor incurred. "A watch has a cost and a value. The COST consists of the amount of labor bestowed..." That's from Equitable Commerce. It's not saying COST consists of whatever a person arbitrarily chooses based on his tastes. It's saying COST is equal to the amount of labor. Richard Blatant (talk) 05:02, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
What a lot of confusions and strawmen you have conjured up. We have the testimony of Warren, Andrews and Pare that cost is subjective, that it is measured in "pain" and is dependent on factors not intrinsic to the object sold. Your attempts to tell us that that "is saying" just the opposite are bad OR at best. Libertatia (talk) 06:38, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Saying that cost is measured in pain is saying that cost is objective. Cost is the amount of pain. If cost was not objective, then that would mean what determines cost is matter of taste. For example, one be free to choose cost to be determined by pleasure, by pain, the amount of gold one has ...anything. If cost is set in stone as the amount of pain or labor, that means cost of objective. It's not a matter of taste. Warren does not say that cost is subjective. He says cost is the amount of labor. As soon as you say cost IS determined by SOMETHING, you're making an objective claim. To say that cost is subjective, would be to say cost is determined by whatever anyone wants to determine it. You seem to be very confused. It looks like you probably just don't know the meaning of terms "subjective" and "objective." Richard Blatant (talk) 06:48, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Have fun redefining terms. Pain is no more objective - though the question is more importantly whether it is intrinsic to the object - than desire, or marginal utility. If the "amount of labor" is greater for me today because I don't feel like working, then labor is not an objective standard. If you and I consider different forms of labor as more or less desirable, then our cost will differ, and the only way to exchange "equal quantities of labor" is to accept that they are subjectively equal. What Warren is against is passing off your costs onto another, not individualizing your costs. You've read at least some of Equitable Commerce, so you should have no question about Warren's near-mania for individualization. Your gyrations can't change any of this. Libertatia (talk) 07:00, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
You're still confused. I did not say that pain is objective. I said that cost is objective. That just means cost is determined by a particular thing, rather than it being a matter of taste to choose what determines it. That thing is labor or pain. I never denied that the individual himself would measure his own labor time to determine how much pain was entailed in it. But that doesn't change the fact that Warren held that cost was equal to labor, or pain if you will. That means cost is objective. When I say that, I'm not saying that there is some method of objectively determining how much pain is in a particular type or duration of labor. Of course that's determined subjectively. That's the only possible way to determine it. Only an individual knows his own pain, so of course. But still, cost is objective. Cost IS the quantity of pain. Warren says so explicitly. Richard Blatant (talk) 07:15, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Now you're reinventing economics. Subjective cost is, in fact, a fairly orthodox notion, even for many Austrians. Closer to Warren's tradition, Carson also invokes it, finding it in Smith's LTV (but not, say, Marx's). Libertatia (talk) 13:18, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand why you keep bringing up Austrian economics? This has nothing to do with that. The fact is, "Cost the limit" of price, where cost is the labor or hardship incurred, is a prescriptive labor theory of value. There is no denying that Warren subscribed thoroughly to a labor theory of value. You haven't shown that he didn't. Just the fact that someone has to measure how much effort he's exerting in his labor, doesn't mean he's abandoning the labor theory of value. Richard Blatant (talk) 17:32, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
There is, apparently, a great deal you don't understand, beginning with what your argument actually is. We have not been debating whether or not Warren abandoned "the labor theory of value" (as if there was only one.) You're trying now to change the subject. Now, Warren clearly understood "cost" as determined by the individual subject, as subjective. "Subjective cost" is a relatively non-controversial notion: even those one might expect to be most anti-LTV can make place for it. "Cost," as Warren described it, could not be "objective" or "intrinsic" to the object sold. Pain is subjective, a quantity of pain cannot be objective, and you have acknowledged that. There is nothing left of your initial objection, except your over-arching dislike of "the LTV." But in order for that to have any purchase in the debate we've actually been having, you would have to show that the basic principle of the LTVs, that labor creates wealth, necessarily implies an objective standard of some sort. And that is precisely what the mutualist LTVs, from Warren to Carson, do not assume. As there is not actually an edit being discussed, (the "bizarre claim" is indeed bizarre,) we've probably wasted enough Talk-page space on this anyway. Chances are we'll have to go over all of this again soon anyway. Libertatia (talk) 19:21, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
(Moving over to the left) No, Warren did not understand cost to be subjective. Cost is not determined by the subject. Hardship or labor is determined by the subject. THAT'S subjective, not cost. Cost is always equal to labor or hardship. What constitutes cost doesn't change. It's objective. It has nothing to do with the "objective or intrinsic to the object sold," and I don't know why you're bringing that up. No one has argued that. Of course he doesn't hold that. He makes it clear: The cost IN LABOR, not in the object. What do mean my "dislike of the LTV?" I never said I was opposed to or disliked the LTV. All I'm doing is showing you that Warren indeed thoroughly subscribed to a labor theory of value. If he says that price should equal to labor, that's a labor of theory of value. There is no sense in disputing that. And he doesn't make any exceptions to this. Him saying that it's up to a person to determine his own hardship (not cost), is not dropping the labor theory of value at all. So your iniatial claim, that "Overemphasizing "the LTV" is a mistake anyway, since Warren himself subjectivized labor "cost," is wrong. The whole purpose of a person estimating his own hardship is to make sure that he's making trades in accordance with "cost the limit of price." That's a labor of value. It can't be emphasized enough that Warren held to a labor theory of value. Richard Blatant (talk) 19:52, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Josiah Warren. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 01:38, 28 April 2017 (UTC)