Commons-Based Valuation

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Hannes Gerhardt:

"Today, the obfuscated workings of the market — Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” — is seen as an omnipotent super-computer cranking out the current value of everything in the form of price. Following Marx, this simple reduction of value to what price it will fetch on the market happened when the basic rationale animating economic interactions shifted from one of pursuing commodity exchanges, facilitated by money (C-M-C), to using commodities as a means to gain more money (M-C-M). Money here becomes the marker of all the value in the world.

Such a valuation system, which is the very foundation of capitalism, leaves no room for any considerations of derived or inherent value, let alone ethical values. The consequences are clear: the reduction of labor to price leads to exploitation; viewing commodities as disconnected from labor results in the alienation of workers and consumers; and the never-ending externalization of environmental costs precipitates the collapse of global ecosystems.

Logically, therefore, any counter-capitalist movement must explore ways in which values — not one sole overarching value — can be re-incorporated into valuation by internalizing aspects of the economy that are generally excluded or hidden from view — both the good and the bad. Today, technology-inspired efforts, as illustrated in the examples above, are being pursued to do precisely this."