Thanks to Stephan Kinsella for giving me the opportunity to explain why Locke accidentally created the Labor theory of value. (From a FB post)
I’m starting to think one of the costliest intellectual mistakes of all human history was Locke’s ridiculous idea that we own the fruits of our labor (or that we own our labor). This labor theory of property has led to all kinds of mischief, not to mention the labor theory of value and communism and hundreds of millions of deaths, plus the horrible IP system which also literally kills people and retards progress and imposes relative impoverishment.
PLus, Locke anchored his theory in God-owns-us stuff, instead of rational argument, and he was a racist and pro-slaver. Meh.
Lockean homesteading is correct, but not for Locke’s reasons. I’m going to do a long blog post about this.
He needed to justify the middle class takeover of property from the aristocracy. To put a fork in feudalism. In the church. In the feudal commons. And to do that he had to justify ACTION as the source of property ownership.
And he made the obvious logical leap that confused ownership with (a) subjective value, (b) exchange value and (c) market value. Which to us, is absurd, because we work to expose properties of the market in order to illustrate the evils of the middle class and proletarian states. Each of which attempts to reconstruct that aristocratic commons under different administrative ownership – full of sound and fury but changing nothing.
But he wasn’t trying to do [what we are – expose the problem of the middle class and proletarian states]. So he didn’t have the need to disentangle the spectrum that we call ‘value’. (a,b and c above.)
You’re right that he was imperfect and that there have been consequences to that imperfection.
But to some degree, our emphasis on subjective value alone creates a similar problem.
1) Subjective value is immeasureable. (psychological)
2) Exchange value is incomensurable (barter: visible but incommensurable ))
3) Market value is calculable. (prices: visible, commensurable)
I think, that when we libertarians use imprecise language that we make Hume’s mistake. We dont go deep enough and create confusion: political externalities. Just like he did.
Because we do not illustrate the problems that the market solves by commensurability. Instead we think subjective value is self evident. And it may be. But it is incomplete. And therefore insufficient to support our claims.
This is the same problem we have with Rothbardian ethics and Misesian Praxeology. Theyre incomplete as stated. And if incomplete they cannot be apodeictically certain as we claim.
Too deep perhaps. More simply: There is more to value than subjectivity. [Subjectivity is but one point on a spectrum.]