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By Vera Politica
#13257080
"socially necessary labour time", if I am to use non-gibberish, could be qualified by an example Marx used in Capital:

(these are my own words though). The subjective preference and intention of the capitalist has no bearing on the value of the product being manufactured. For example, say that the the capitalist wants to manufacture spindles. It is of no consequence to the value of the spindle (qua spindle) if the Capitalist wishes to manufacture them using gold, since the socially necessary material is simply iron (or what have you) to make a perfectly functional spindle. This is a way to think of social necessity in terms of qualitative factors. In terms of quantitative factors (which is far more important, I think), what determines the social necessity of the quantity of labor time for a particular object X is the quantity of labor-time necessary given the mean degree of skill and technology of the particular society. If, using the mean degree of skill and technology, the labor-time necessary to make object X is 10 units, then that is what determines the value of object X rather than, for example, object X being produced at a small shop with 25 units of labor. This assumes, moreover, that the use-values of both are the same (even in the case of spindles - for obviously if the use value differs, then object X which took 10 units will not be the same as object X1 that took 25 units, and object X1's value would be determined by the socially necessary labor time thereof).
So, if someone objects that the gold spindle will be worth more than the iron spindle even if it took the same amount of labor time this is a conceptual confusion on two fronts: (1) they differ in value because the gold spindle has a different use-value than the iron spingle, i.e. we are now comparing the use value of gold with the use-value of the spindle; (2) in gold we would need to determine the socially necessary labor-time in that process of manufacturing, and this is what would account for the difference in value. But in this example, as I mentioned, I thinking of the use-value of the gold spindle qua spindle, where the gold has no bearing on that object's value as a spindle.

I tried to be as non-gibberish as I could. I would love for other to add to this.
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By PredatorOC
#13257102
Vera, unless I missed it, you didn't address how socially necessary labour vs. pointless labour is determined. For example, how do you know how many spindles to make? How do you determine whether to adopt new spindle technologies and when to adopt them?
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By Eauz
#13258005
PredatorOC wrote:how do you know how many spindles to make?
It is the productive capability of the society at present. Thus, if the production of a society is based in heavy industry, as it was in the 1700's to 1800's, the production of commodities would be produced using the present day existence of means of production. It would make no sense, in regard to the present day mode of production, to use labour intense productivity to produce shirts or carpets, when the present day mode of production is so advanced.

PredatorOC wrote:How do you determine whether to adopt new spindle technologies and when to adopt them?
Should I keep knitting shirts when they can be more productively produced using machines? Why would labour be wasted on such tasks? A society should adapt them as a society develops itself. Even before capitalist mode of production existed, societies progressed and developed using different means of production for both productive and protection against others. So, why would you assume that new means of production would be ignored?
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By PredatorOC
#13260412
Vera, I re-read your comment and keep getting stuck on "use-value". What exactly determines the price difference between a gold spindle and an iron spindle?

Eauz wrote:It is the productive capability of the society at present.


That doesn't answer my question. If you value things based on labour, then that value includes no information about consumer preferences. How do you acquire that information? I know the standard answer is "ask the consumers", which has been done and leads to insane shortages and surpluses. This is because there are no capitalists that try to "guess" consumer preferences and because prices don't go up or down based on demand, so production is constantly two steps behind consumer preferences. So how do you get the information without delay and preferably pre-emptively?

Eauz wrote:Should I keep knitting shirts when they can be more productively produced using machines? Why would labour be wasted on such tasks?


After careful consideration, I realized I was mistaken about this. Guesstimating whether to adopt new technology is rather similar with labour-based prices and market prices.
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By Vera Politica
#13260452
Vera, I re-read your comment and keep getting stuck on "use-value". What exactly determines the price difference between a gold spindle and an iron spindle?


Well, Marxist economic theory is sort of split on whether to consider the price system and value system separately. However, as Marx used the terms, the use-value of an object has no bearing on its exchange-value, since it is an objective, qualitative determination. The exchange-value is determined by the socially necessary labor time that is objectified in the object. So what constitutes the price difference would be inputs (labor in the manufacturing of the spindle + labor for extracting the raw materials + labor for transportation, etc etc. I presume that those inputs have a higher exchange value for gold than for iron).

I'm not sure if this is correct (it is, indeed, an oversimplification), so if someone can validate it or correct it, by all means.

no information about consumer preferences. How do you acquire that information?


I'm not sure what consumer preferences have to do with it. Consumer preferences usually occur logically after the productive measures of society have been built up. If not, why the hell do we spend so much money on advertising? Consumer preferences are a sort of constructed 'consciousness' that are parametrically determined (so to speak) by the mode of production. This is why preferences in feudal Europe compared to Industrial America are quite different. In the logical sense, and considering production IN GENERAL, consumer preferences are not anticipated, they are constructed after the fact.
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By PredatorOC
#13260470
Vera Politica wrote:I presume that those inputs have a higher exchange value for gold than for iron.


Ok, so scarcity plays no part in the price?

Vera Politica wrote:I'm not sure what consumer preferences have to do with it. Consumer preferences usually occur logically after the productive measures of society have been built up.


I'm not sure if we understand "consumer preference" the same way. I meant ordinal consumer preferences. Water, food, shelter, etc. In order to have rational production, you need to know what individual people want and in what ordinal scale. And the more advanced a society becomes, more options are added to this ordinal scale. How is this information gathered and how is it kept constantly up-to-date or pre-empted?

Vera Politica wrote:In the logical sense, and considering production IN GENERAL, consumer preferences are not anticipated, they are constructed after the fact.


Consumer preferences are not anticipated? So Bell was just randomly inventing a telephone (or whomever invented it) without any preconceived notion that people might like to communicate with each other over long distances? Or Coca-Cola accidentally started producing a carbonated drink laced with cocaine with no idea that people might prefer it over simple water? And Pepsi just randomly cut their prices below Coca-Cola's, with no idea that people might prefer the cheaper drink?

Unless I misunderstood, you, I have to say your claim is absurd. Need comes before production. Granted, there is a discovery process as to what production meets the need it is intended to. And while advertising does appeal to existing needs, it does not create them. I don't go out and buy tampons just because I saw a TV ad for them.
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By Vera Politica
#13260475
Consumer preferences are not anticipated? So Bell was just randomly inventing a telephone (or whomever invented it) without any preconceived notion that people might like to communicate with each other over long distances? Or Coca-Cola accidentally started producing a carbonated drink laced with cocaine with no idea that people might prefer it over simple water? And Pepsi just randomly cut their prices below Coca-Cola's, with no idea that people might prefer the cheaper drink?

Unless I misunderstood, you, I have to say your claim is absurd. Need comes before production. Granted, there is a discovery process as to what production meets the need it is intended to. And while advertising does appeal to existing needs, it does not create them. I don't go out and buy tampons just because I saw a TV ad for them.


My comments concerned the logic of general production, considered historically, rather than production at the micro-level. Of course individual firms anticipate 'needs', but this does not mean that these needs were not constructed after the fact. This is not a micro-proposition, but a historic-logical proposition. Consumer preferences are constructed and limited parametrically within a defined mode of production. This is why preferences are never static. The basic 'preferences' you mentioned are not 'preferences' but more like necessities. Food is a necessity, a Big Mac is not, although it is a preference - one which did not exist before a certain mode of production. Remember, at the micro-level, these firms are anticipating consumer preference, but consumer preference is a historically-situated concept and, omitting necessities, it is a variable concept that only becomes specifically determined within a particular productive context. The evolution of productive technologies doesn't follow from consumer preferences, instead, consumer preferences follow from the evolution of productive technologies. There was nothing natural or pre-determined in the preferences of the feudal serfs, rather their preferences, historically speaking, were determined within a particular context of social production. While American Apparel does well now, if we transposed it to 17th century France, I doubt it would take off in any respect - but this is due to the historically situated context of consumer preferences.

I hope this is clear and you understand what I am getting at.
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By PredatorOC
#13261324
Vera Politica wrote:The basic 'preferences' you mentioned are not 'preferences' but more like necessities.


True to a degree. I added them as an afterthought to make a point, but the point would have been better served by a list of less basic items. Though the point still stands that even water, food and shelter represent an ordinal scale of needs and "preferences" for most people. Water is more important than food, water and food are more important than shelter, etc.

Vera Politica wrote:I hope this is clear and you understand what I am getting at.


I think I understand now, but I also think you are straying into tautology. Yes, it's true that we can't have the things we can't have. So a caveman didn't dream about a new Mercedes-Benz for obvious reasons.

But I'm bothered by your usage of the word "constructed". Are you using the word to signify a belief that, outside of basic needs, our needs are externally constructed through advertising?
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By Kasu
#13261326
Sounds like the same lines put forward by the Frankfurt school, an anti-marxist school of thought.
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By Vera Politica
#13261397
pred wrote:But I'm bothered by your usage of the word "constructed". Are you using the word to signify a belief that, outside of basic needs, our needs are externally constructed through advertising?


No, not at all. Advertising was just a micro-level example that sort of, in its constricted way, exemplifies the point I was making. I do not mean construction in any psycho-social sense. They are constructed in the sense that it is a sub-set of the 'conscious' level of social organization, and so can only reflects material relations (i.e. the historically specific mode of production and relations of production) or, rather, is determined in the last instance (to borrow from Althusser) by those material factors or the 'material' level of social organization.

Kasu wrote:Sounds like the same lines put forward by the Frankfurt school, an anti-marxist school of thought.


Care to qualify your remarks with some substance... anything, even a smidget of actual thought so that I can respond to something? Or is unfiltered ad hominems the sine qua non of Kasu?

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