A question for our Marxists - Page 8 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15171675
late wrote:As soon as you stop lying..

It is not a lie. Denmark is a capitalist nation. I am sorry you had to lose your innocence.
#15171678
Ganeshas Rat wrote:To be born out of a vagina of a top manager is not the most creative thing. It's actually pretty lame.

This is true to a certain extent. Privilege begets more privilege. The father of Mozart was a musician. It happens, however, Mozart was a genius on his own merit.

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No. Amazon created millions of workplaces by destroying millions of workplaces. If there would be no Amazon, there would still be demand for deliveries. Except it would be operated by a thousand of independent companies which would make the delivery system less effective and costly but simultaneously better for its employees. Because a small company by definition cannot allow to treat its employees the way Bezos does. It's capitalism versus socialism (The only difference between USSR and Amazon now is missing the territory and army).


Capitalism is not about ideology. Capitalism is about who can do the job for less. The end result is benefit to the consumer. There is no guaranteed success in capitalism. The fastest runner wins the race and the slowest runner finishes last---------that is how it works. I know it is cruel, but if we allow the slow runners to win the system eventually fails.

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No, they actually destroy wealth. In the same sense as ocean destroys phosphorus. We need phosphorus in small amounts for our well-being. Rivers pull a lot of microelements with it to the ocean. Some microelements return from there and can be used in the biosphere again or are present in pratically limitless quantities, but phosphorus isn't one of them. It just ends on the ocean bottom and we cannot do anything about it. We cannot stop the process, we cannot return it to the surface (without advanced technologies we don't have yet). It's buried. The same with the billionaires' wealth. I already talked about how self-made they are.


The wealth of the rich is created, Wealth is not a zero sum gain. Comparing the finite quantity of a material with wealth is not logical. There is no limit to wealth creation. The idea that the rich steal from the poor to make money is a fallacy. I do not deny powerful nations conquering others, but that is not true capitalism.
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I personally haven't bought anything from Amazon, but I don't mind people who do. It's not like there's a choice. If someone monopolizes all sources of fresh water on Earth people would still drink, even if the price of water is determined by personal flaws of one man. But it doesn't mean this person is a genius of marketing. It means they are a parasite who managed to break the system. The system whose purpose is to maximize everyone's wellbeing.


Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another. Adam Smith. As soon as someone does a better job than Amazon they will be out of business.


I'd say if there's a million of corner stores with 200 customers it's a big win in comparison with the current situation. Just out of utilitarian hedonism: those store owners would get a lot of happiness from being able to pay for their kids' universities and housing. But Bezos will only be slightly happier after buying his millionth home and paying his millionth kid' education. Also the employees of these corner stores wouldn't need to be humiliated daily with Amazon Self-Confidence Chorus Song (or is it Wall-Mart? those monopolies all look the same, 'from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which').


Marx was correct regarding the flaws of capitalism. However the prescription or cure was worse than the disease. One day capitalism will transform itself into something better.
#15171689
Wellsy wrote:



Therefore, did our capitalist make a mistake in introducing the innovation? Not at all. For a transitional period—perhaps a prolonged transitional period—our innovating capitalist made a super-profit above and beyond the previous rate of profit. (4) Once production prices have adjusted to the new lower value of the commodity, a fellow capitalist in the same line of production who has not copied the innovation ends up with an even lower rate of profit and quite likely an outright loss. In the case of a loss, our laggard will lose all his or her capital sooner or later.



I'm going to paraphrase Okishio here:

Those companies that are winning the footrace, for a time, against all other competitors, are winning the footrace.


Julian658 wrote:
Today homeless people have free cell phones. All of that in less than 40 years. If this trend continues the poor will have access to the same luxuries the rich have and it will be FREE!



Julian, the political-economy issue is not simply with existing wealth, and the current class-based unequal distribution of such, but it's moreso about the *control* of society's *ongoing* industrial mass production. Those who do the actual work / production, the workers, should be the ones to collectively control how such massive productivity is directed, and to what ends. (Means-and-ends.)


Means and Ends CHART

Spoiler: show
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Julian658 wrote:
The downside of giving people free stuff is a dystopic world where people have no purpose to exist.



Now who's being materialistic -- as though a person's life can be defined and lived entirely through material possessions -- !


wat0n wrote:
If you want to keep the distinction, however, one would then run into the issue of what do you mean about "profit" here. Are you measuring it in terms of use or exchange value?



Profit *can't* be measured in terms of use values -- are you implying some series of anarchronistic *barters* in which one gains from favorable trades, to arrive at a much larger commodity of one's objective?

There's *this* example, but it's obviously propagandistic since it doesn't record the incidental *transaction costs* in any kind of way, nor does it formalize any *socio-political* capital / social capital, as from access to media outlets / celebrity / publicity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_red_paperclip


Profit, by definition, is strictly in terms of *exchange values*, which are discrete formal *quantities* of abstracted valuations.


wat0n wrote:
If the prices of commodities tend to go down and unit use values, why wouldn't the capitalist be better off even if profits eventually go back to their normal levels or decrease?



You're forgetting that if commodity prices go down, so does sales revenue, and so then *profits* go down as well -- of course the capitalist *wishes* that profits would eventually go back to their 'normal' levels, for the sake of resumed or increased profits, but that's not what happens historically. Capitalism's inherent dynamic of *overproduction* causes diminished commodity exchange valuations, yielding a declining rate of profit, as already explained on this thread.


wat0n wrote:
I'm asking because it seems part of the criticism is claiming there would be deflation, but without taking the consequences of it to its full extent.



You mean 'devaluation' instead of 'deflation'. Decreasing commodity prices, from overproduction, is better known as 'depreciation', which is *not* deflation -- it's *devaluation*, meaning a relative *loss* of monetary value.


wat0n wrote:
it would also be possible for two different interpretations of Marx to be correct at the same time, even if they lead to different conclusions. Same could hold for other classical economists.



Also, black is white, and night is day. (Nice try, though.)


Julian658 wrote:
Authoritarian socialist nations did a great job with homelessness. They simply did not allow it.



True, in a way, but not in the derogatory meaning that you're connoting....



Homelessness in East Germany

by Lukas Gilbert | November 20th, 2019

There were hardly any homeless people in the GDR — the former East Germany ­— mostly because state officials put them in jail or in shabby accommodation. At the turn of the century, many East Germans ended up on the street in West Germany.



https://www.realchangenews.org/news/201 ... st-germany



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blackjack21 wrote:
Many poor people have a better physical standard of living than kings of 200 years ago, but none of the agency or esteem. That's why I say part of the problem is socialism's close alliance with materialism and atheism. They ignore spirituality, agency, self-esteem in any meaningful sense. So cultural marxism ends up becoming something of a freak show holding up the alienated feelings of the transgender person imploring you to use certain pronouns while ignoring the huge problem of homelessness comorbid with drug addiction and mental illness.



Let's end poverty and homelessness, then we can casually discuss those other qualities.

Why *shouldn't* politeness and consideration of others' multicultural differences be a part of everyday and governmental civil society / civil rights -- ?


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Ganeshas Rat wrote:
That's capitalism, and Gates, Bezos, Musk, Jobs, thousands of them, all are just faceless corrupt androids who introduce us to all flaws of socialism without any of its benefits.



Julian658 wrote:
Perhaps these are the same type of guys [Bezos and Gates] that were high up in the politburo. Some people are just good at thriving no matter where you put them.



The parallel between corporate internal structures and Stalinist-state internal bureaucratic hierarchies is an apt comparison.

Since the social role of capital is necessarily for social-organization (of production), those who benefit the most from private-sector corporate bureaucracies are essentially doing what Politburo-climber-types are doing -- organizing bureaucratically, for the sake of greater scales of coordination and production, for personal prestige and related perks.


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Julian658 wrote:
Giving a free home to an addict will not work. This would also require a maid service to clean the house, a cook, a visiting nurse, periodic handy man assistance, ongoing in home psych care, etc. A free home for a lunatic will solve nothing.



Someone on another thread pointed out that what's *really* needed is Universal Basic Services, and not just lump-sum cash payments:

viewtopic.php?p=15145656#p15145656


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wat0n wrote:
Too bad he's dead, although I doubt he'd agree with your characterization of his work.



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ckaihatsu wrote:
Overproduction with respect to market demand for any given item / commodity.



wat0n wrote:
When that happens, prices tend to go down (keeping money supply constant). So what? Why would that necessarily be troublesome?



You've been invoking Okishio in your attempts to deny capitalism's declining rate of profit -- prices that tend to head downward, due to capitalism's dynamic of overproduction, result in declining rates of profit.


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ckaihatsu wrote:
Again, you're revealing your class bias -- you're only interested in post-production commodity *pricing*. Yes, such market pricing will become detached from prerequisite labor-value inputs, and will be subject to the fluctuating dynamic of market-based supply-and-demand. Such commodity-market pricing dynamics take place *after* the economics of producing the commodity in the first place take place.



wat0n wrote:
How is that class bias?



It's class bias because you're only concerned with addressing the 'exciting' and dramatic realm of finished-commodity fluctuating dynamics of market pricing, according to the balance of supply-and-demand, boosted by speculative bubbles like currently that of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the *original* valuation of the commodity -- what it cost to produce, from capital depreciation and exploited labor value, is *glossed over*, if not ignored altogether, in typical economics treatments. Bourgeois culture would rather *ignore* the fact of necessary labor inputs, and labor exploitation, in the commodity production process.


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ckaihatsu wrote:
As usual you're forgetting / are-oblivious-to the *subject matter* at hand, in this case the distinction between machines, versus *people*.

In other words even if machines are "exploited" -- and the economics show that they're not, as others here have delineated -- it wouldn't matter because machines aren't *conscious* and *alive* the way people are. And the economics of capitalism show that, objectively / empirically, workers *are* exploited of their surplus labor value, in the production process, by capital.



wat0n wrote:
Normative, not positive. If the machines are exploited, then quite evidently the owner is if the capitalist doesn't own the machines.



Machines are *not alive*, and are *not exploited* -- and neither are owners. Owners are the *exploiters* of labor-power since, by definition, they're economically *benefitting* from their ownership of either rentier or equity capital, or both.

Rentier capital benefits by extracting mandatory rent payments or interest payments for the formalized parceling-out and leasing of socially-needed capital-based infrastructure such as land or capital, while *equity* capital benefits from the extraction of surplus *labor* value by exploiting workers in the commodity-production process.


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Julian658 wrote:
Capitalism is not about ideology. Capitalism is about who can do the job for less. The end result is benefit to the consumer.



This is a quaint conception, related more to the primitive-accumulation era of capitalism, meaning late feudalism, or the rise of the merchant class -- these days capitalism is all about maximizing shareholder value, mostly through financialization, as in corporate stock buybacks:


How American CEOs got so rich




Julian658 wrote:
Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this - no dog exchanges bones with another. Adam Smith. As soon as someone does a better job than Amazon they will be out of business.



$100 million NJ deli linked to shell company E-Waste, whose stock has soared despite having no real business

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/21/100-mil ... waste.html
#15171690
ckaihatsu wrote:Profit *can't* be measured in terms of use values -- are you implying some series of anarchronistic *barters* in which one gains from favorable trades, to arrive at a much larger commodity of one's objective?

There's *this* example, but it's obviously propagandistic since it doesn't record the incidental *transaction costs* in any kind of way, nor does it formalize any *socio-political* capital / social capital, as from access to media outlets / celebrity / publicity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_red_paperclip

Profit, by definition, is strictly in terms of *exchange values*, which are discrete formal *quantities* of abstracted valuations.


Then what's the issue with having profits measured in terms of exchange values?

ckaihatsu wrote:You're forgetting that if commodity prices go down, so does sales revenue, and so then *profits* go down as well -- of course the capitalist *wishes* that profits would eventually go back to their 'normal' levels, for the sake of resumed or increased profits, but that's not what happens historically. Capitalism's inherent dynamic of *overproduction* causes diminished commodity exchange valuations, yielding a declining rate of profit, as already explained on this thread.


But if all commodity prices go down, you do have a case of deflation, again, keeping money supply constant.

What commodity price stays the same under this dynamic?

ckaihatsu wrote:You mean 'devaluation' instead of 'deflation'. Decreasing commodity prices, from overproduction, is better known as 'depreciation', which is *not* deflation -- it's *devaluation*, meaning a relative *loss* of monetary value.


If all prices go down then you have the case of deflation...

ckaihatsu wrote:Also, black is white, and night is day. (Nice try, though.)


Are you denying there are different interpretations of Marx's writing?

You sound like a religious fanatic.

ckaihatsu wrote:You've been invoking Okishio in your attempts to deny capitalism's declining rate of profit -- prices that tend to head downward, due to capitalism's dynamic of overproduction, result in declining rates of profit.


A fact that hasn't been proven empirically either. Particularly not when you don't cherry pick your initial period, but even in that case it seems to level off at a fixed level rather than permanently trend down.

ckaihatsu wrote:It's class bias because you're only concerned with addressing the 'exciting' and dramatic realm of finished-commodity fluctuating dynamics of market pricing, according to the balance of supply-and-demand, boosted by speculative bubbles like currently that of cryptocurrencies.


What does that have to do with class?

ckaihatsu wrote:Meanwhile, the *original* valuation of the commodity -- what it cost to produce, from capital depreciation and exploited labor value, is *glossed over*, if not ignored altogether, in typical economics treatments. Bourgeois culture would rather *ignore* the fact of necessary labor inputs, and labor exploitation, in the commodity production process.


No one is ignoring that, it just isn't as important. You argument is as absurd as saying workers should only earn whatever taking care of their physical needs and training costs.

ckaihatsu wrote:Machines are *not alive*, and are *not exploited* -- and neither are owners. Owners are the *exploiters* of labor-power since, by definition, they're economically *benefitting* from their ownership of either rentier or equity capital, or both.

Rentier capital benefits by extracting mandatory rent payments or interest payments for the formalized parceling-out and leasing of socially-needed capital-based infrastructure such as land or capital, while *equity* capital benefits from the extraction of surplus *labor* value by exploiting workers in the commodity-production process.


So in your view, if I make a machine on my own and rent it at a price below cost to someone else I'm not being exploited? :)
#15171692
wat0n wrote:So in your view, if I make a machine on my own and rent it at a price below cost to someone else I'm not being exploited? :)

I have a few thoughts for this hypothetical.

It seems incredibly unlikely that you simply create a productive machine to rent from no where and would have to incest in the materials to make such a thing so this presupposes you have some money to purchase materials and tools off of the market.

So how much the machine is worth would be the cost of the tools and materials plus the labor involved. The idea is that this value is transferred in the work in which it is used for, it doesn’t create surplus/new value but transfers the value already derived from the labor involved in acquiring the materials, tools and labor.

Now you rent it out for people to use. This seems sort of like petty bourgeoisie where you have a business going on and rather than say having tools to do your own work such as a tradesman, you’re just renting out the machine. So you’re ideally looking to make money from the venture but for whatever reason you undercut yourself because you’re not even breaking even.
Thinking maybe you run a washing machine for rent or copier for coins or something.
Well can you exploit yourself?
Because if not, then you’re simply a failed attempt at making a profit off of your own labor and would be outcompeted by those with a much more efficient productive process.

Generally exploitation is based on the difference between wages ie labour power and actual hours of labour performed. This is how one arrives at surplus value. While profit is calculated by the difference between initial investment and the money at the end of that cycle of work.

So, you’re not paying yourself a wage, you’re trying to earn money on your investment of materials and labor.
So I’d err on the side that I don’t see how it is exploitative, it sounds like a terrible idea in terms of outcomes for you. But generally exploitation is based on the profiting off of someone elses labour, you use them to gain more than what you invested. You would also have to maintain repairs with your own labor to keep it going.

However renting is interesting because you’re not necessarily providing a service but barring access to something unless you’re paid.
The difference here is that there is no employer and employee relation in the hypothetical, just you doing all the work.
So to me self-exploitation doesn’t make sense in this framework.

However I bet you’re wanting to ask then are you being exploited by consumers? I would say only to the extent anyone who makes a bad/unequal exchange is exploited and transfers more value than they receive.
So then there is a other person benefiting, they’re able to exploit you’re overly low costs. Which you would have to give up on eventually as you’d run out of money.

And the point is that fluctuating prices are a result of supply and demand but they dont fluctuate arbitrarily. Behind Marx is always the idea of value or direct price, where price is truly equal to the value of a thing rather than the typical case of rarely.
The idea being supply and demand does not explain the regularity of why somethings cost generally as much as they do.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1865/value-price-profit/ch01.htm#c4
But to consider matters more broadly: You would be altogether mistaken in fancying that the value of labour or any other commodity whatever is ultimately fixed by supply and demand. Supply and demand regulate nothing but the temporary fluctuations of market prices. They will explain to you why the market price of a commodity rises above or sinks below its value, but they can never account for the value itself. Suppose supply and demand to equilibrate, or, as the economists call it, to cover each other. Why, the very moment these opposite forces become equal they paralyze each other, and cease to work in the one or other direction. At the moment when supply and demand equilibrate each other, and therefore cease to act, the market price of a commodity coincides with its real value, with the standard price round which its market prices oscillate. In inquiring into the nature of that VALUE, we have therefore nothing at all to do with the temporary effects on market prices of supply and demand. The same holds true of wages and of the prices of all other commodities.

This is why Marx would emphasize things like subsistence as well as the tendency for wages to be higher than that based on other things like training and education. Value being the center of gravity of where wages and prices fluctuate around.
Last edited by Wellsy on 10 May 2021 15:46, edited 1 time in total.
#15171694
ckaihatsu wrote:Why are interest rates so stubbornly low, and even *negative* in some places?

If (financial) inflation is of such a pressing concern to some, akin to Chicken Little's 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling', then why haven't interest rates skyrocketed, as they did in the stagflation-ridden anxiety-causing 1970s when the U.S. deindustrialized and lost market share to international industrial competitors?

Interest rates are set by the feds based on market conditions. Interest rates are so low because we're in a global pandemic and the feds want to encourage borrowing and spending to stimulate the economy.

In the 70's/80's the feds raised interest rates to curb fast-rising inflation from rising oil prices due to the situations in the middle-east, plus rising wages domestically. If you make interest rates 20% people won't borrow and spend, and they'll put their money in the bank or buy bonds rather than invest/spend in the marketplace.

Ganeshas Rat wrote:I personally haven't bought anything from Amazon, but I don't mind people who do. It's not like there's a choice. If someone monopolizes all sources of fresh water on Earth people would still drink, even if the price of water is determined by personal flaws of one man. But it doesn't mean this person is a genius of marketing. It means they are a parasite who managed to break the system. The system whose purpose is to maximize everyone's wellbeing.
.

Amazon doesn't have a monopoly. There's countless websites you can order the same items from.
#15171695
Wellsy wrote:I have a few thoughts for this hypothetical.

It seems incredibly unlikely that you simply create a productive machine to rent from no where and would have to incest in the materials to make such a thing so this presupposes you have some money to purchase materials and tools off of the market.

So how much the machine is worth would be the cost of the tools and materials plus the labor involved. The idea is that this value is transferred in the work in which it is used for, it doesn’t create surplus/new value but transfers the value already derived from the labor involved in acquiring the materials, tools and labor.

Now you rent it out for people to use. This seems sort of like petty bourgeoisie where you have a business going on and rather than say having tools to do your own work such as a tradesman, you’re just renting out the machine. So you’re ideally looking to make money from the venture but for whatever reason you undercut yourself because you’re not even breaking even.
Thinking maybe you run a washing machine for rent or copier for coins or something.
Well can you exploit yourself?
Because if not, then you’re simply a failed attempt at making a profit off of your own labor and would be outcompeted by those with a much more efficient productive process.

Generally exploitation is based on the difference between wages ie labour power and actual hours of labour performed. This is how one arrives at surplus value. While profit is calculated by the difference between initial investment and the money at the end of that cycle of work.

So, you’re not paying yourself a wage, you’re trying to earn money on your investment of materials and labor.
So I’d err on the side that I don’t see how it is exploitative, it sounds like a terrible idea in terms of outcomes for you. But generally exploitation is based on the profiting off of someone elses labour, you use them to gain more than what you invested. You would also have to maintain repairs with your own labor to keep it going.

However renting is interesting because you’re not necessarily providing a service but barring access to something unless you’re paid.
The difference here is that there is no employer and employee relation in the hypothetical, just you doing all the work.
So to me self-exploitation doesn’t make sense in this framework.

However I bet you’re wanting to ask then are you being exploited by consumers? I would say only to the extent anyone who makes a bad/unequal exchange is exploited and transfers more value than they receive.
So then there is a other person benefiting, they’re able to exploit you’re overly low costs. Which you would have to give up on eventually as you’d run out of money.


Right, and to give some details about this scenario: I make a machine on my own, without hiring anyone. When I did the investment, I did expect it to be profitable yet when I was finally done manufacturing the machine the market conditions had changed, and the prevailing rent for that machine had gone down, just not as much as to make it more profitable to sell it for scraps, even after netting maintenance costs out. There is some maintenance involved, but it's not all that expensive and the prevailing rent price does cover that cost. Basically, I took a risk and it did not work out.

If the above is not exploitation, then is the following scenario an example of it?

I learn a programming language as part of my degree, which took a few years, and once I'm out in the job market most of my industry has moved on to using a different language. Places that haven't made the move yet, tend to pay less than those that are switching to the new programming language. In practice, it's not that profitable to me to work there, to the point that I'm barely making ends meet considering student loan payments (if I had to take one) but it's better than unemployment at least until I'm able to deal with the investment cost of learning the more modern programming language. My hours are within the industry standard, and my job currently consists of mostly managing/maintaining existing code in this older, soon to be obsolete language since in any event my employer doesn't really have a major reason to do new stuff in it (I'm adding this last bit to highlight this is not a wholly unrealistic scenario).

I tend to believe the above scenario is not exploitation, although it is a mix of bad luck and going to a school with an outdated curriculum (perhaps all of them, even good ones, are outdated in this regard. Perhaps schools cannot change the curriculum so quickly because of regulatory constraints). This is despite the fact that I'm a worker since I don't own any capital in the business I work at.

Spoiler: show
Full disclosure: I do in fact have to work bearing with a mostly outdated, obsolete language and part of my work consists on maintaining/managing existing code in it but that's because I work as a government contractor (a nonprofit) and the government keeps using it. I'm making more than ends meet though, so no complaints in that regard, and I'm working on new projects. I do try to keep using another language that is not obsolete even though it faces stiff competition with other languages widely used in my field, which I hope to learn eventually - thankfully all the "in" languages are fairly similar to each other so it's not hard to do so, and also plenty of places will take me with my current programming skills/knowledge if I decide to leave my current job, which I don't want to do. I mention this because this scenario isn't insane at all and can perfectly relate with it because I decided to get a second masters abroad (i.e. emigrate) for a reason - I was also making more than ends meet before arriving here, but the few programming skills and passable statistics knowledge I had were in many, many ways outdated and I'm making way more here since the job market is way better in my new field and it was not so much as to allow me to feel comfortable about doing more than just meet my most basic responsibilities like e.g. live on my own instead of sharing/living with my family.
#15171697
Wellsy wrote:However, what do you make of unions successfully struggling for a shorter working day or increases in pay and so on which would cut into productivity and profits? Is such class struggle without any impact on wages? Or is your point that it isn't primary because if there was is no demand you can't struggle for higher wages, or if their is an abundance of supply, the ability of organizing workers for collective bargaining is significantly reduced.


A competitive market doesn't allow for unions or any other form of market power. Obviously a union can extract higher wages just as a monopoly can extract higher profits. It's not relevant to the question at hand however.

Wellsy wrote:Like this brief piece explicitly opens with the issue of supply and demand.

...

He then goes onto briefly discuss the minimum wage being based on the reproduction of the working class as a whole, rather than any one individual as many individual workers may barely subsist.


Let's look at this entire paragraph:

Marx wrote:Now, the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general, naturally regulate wages, or the price of labour-power. Wages will now rise, now fall, according to the relation of supply and demand, according as competition shapes itself between the buyers of labour-power, the capitalists, and the sellers of labour-power, the workers. The fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labour-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labour-time necessary for production of this commodity: labour-power.

What, then, is the cost of production of labour-power?

It is the cost required for the maintenance of the labourer as a labourer, and for his education and training as a labourer.

Therefore, the shorter the time required for training up to a particular sort of work, the smaller is the cost of production of the worker, the lower is the price of his labour-power, his wages. In those branches of industry in which hardly any period of apprenticeship is necessary and the mere bodily existence of the worker is sufficient, the cost of his production is limited almost exclusively to the commodities necessary for keeping him in working condition. The price of his work will therefore be determined by the price of the necessary means of subsistence.

Here, however, there enters another consideration. The manufacturer who calculates his cost of production and, in accordance with it, the price of the product, takes into account the wear and tear of the instruments of labour. If a machine costs him, for example, 1,000 shillings, and this machine is used up in 10 years, he adds 100 shillings annually to the price of the commodities, in order to be able after 10 years to replace the worn-out machine with a new one. In the same manner, the cost of production of simple labour-power must include the cost of propagation, by means of which the race of workers is enabled to multiply itself, and to replace worn-out workers with new ones. The wear and tear of the worker, therefore, is calculated in the same manner as the wear and tear of the machine.

Thus, the cost of production of simple labour-power amounts to the cost of the existence and propagation of the worker. The price of this cost of existence and propagation constitutes wages. The wages thus determined are called the minimum of wages. This minimum wage, like the determination of the price of commodities in general by cost of production, does not hold good for the single individual, but only for the race. Individual workers, indeed, millions of workers, do not receive enough to be able to exist and to propagate themselves; but the wages of the whole working class adjust themselves, within the limits of their fluctuations, to this minimum.


The issue here is that the labour power is not a commodity. The capitalist has no control over it. He cannot prevent the worker or his offspring, let along the worker's entire dynasty, to work for another capitalist. The capitalist has an incentive to pay for the worker's existence to the extent it improves the worker's immediate productivity, but not for his reproduction. Capitalists as a class would have an interest to do so, but it won't happen because the individual capitalist can increase his profit by not doing so (not within the framework of competitive markets anyway, and not in reality either to be frank). The capitalists ultimately pay higher wages because they have to compete for the worker's labour time.

But let's assume for a moment that the capitalists as a class or the state would pay for worker reproduction. That would put no limit on the size of wages. If workers wouldn't start to reproduce before they own a yacht, that would be the cost of labour power (short of education etc.).
#15171712
Julian658 wrote:So far your system has failed to do so in Cuba and Venezuela.


Not really, no.

Cuba has eradicated homelessness, for example. The US has not done so yet.

——————-

@Unthinking Majority

You did make the comparison, and I then explained why the comparison fails.

And I already disagreed about your moralistic claim that socialists need to convince others first. We have been trying to convince people for years that capitalism is causing major problems but no one listens. And frankly, no one demands that capitalism explain how it is better.
#15171713
Pants-of-dog wrote:Not really, no.

Cuba has eradicated homelessness, for example. The US has not done so yet.



Homelessness is eradicated when the government is authoritarian. It is simply not allowed. Nations with freedom have homelessness, it is unavoidable in a free country.

Here is a video made by a tourist in Santiago de Cuba.

You are correct, no homeless people.


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Where would your socio economic status be higher? IN Canada or Cuba?
#15171715
Pants-of-dog wrote:@Julian658

None of that is on topic or relevant to my argument.

It is a legit question if we are talking about marxism.
Where would your socio economic status be higher? In Canada or Cuba?
Don't be so afraid POD.
#15171716
wat0n wrote:Right, and to give some details about this scenario: I make a machine on my own, without hiring anyone. When I did the investment, I did expect it to be profitable yet when I was finally done manufacturing the machine the market conditions had changed, and the prevailing rent for that machine had gone down, just not as much as to make it more profitable to sell it for scraps, even after netting maintenance costs out. There is some maintenance involved, but it's not all that expensive and the prevailing rent price does cover that cost. Basically, I took a risk and it did not work out.

Agreed, you took a risk in attempting to get a profit but failed to realize a profit because of whatever factors contributed to your inability to achieve a surplus.

If the above is not exploitation, then is the following scenario an example of it?

I learn a programming language as part of my degree, which took a few years, and once I'm out in the job market most of my industry has moved on to using a different language. Places that haven't made the move yet, tend to pay less than those that are switching to the new programming language. In practice, it's not that profitable to me to work there, to the point that I'm barely making ends meet considering student loan payments (if I had to take one) but it's better than unemployment at least until I'm able to deal with the investment cost of learning the more modern programming language. My hours are within the industry standard, and my job currently consists of mostly managing/maintaining existing code in this older, soon to be obsolete language since in any event my employer doesn't really have a major reason to do new stuff in it (I'm adding this last bit to highlight this is not a wholly unrealistic scenario).

I tend to believe the above scenario is not exploitation, although it is a mix of bad luck and going to a school with an outdated curriculum (perhaps all of them, even good ones, are outdated in this regard. Perhaps schools cannot change the curriculum so quickly because of regulatory constraints). This is despite the fact that I'm a worker since I don't own any capital in the business I work at.

It is interesting you use the term "profitable" which works colloquially but profit is of course quite distinct from wages because while one might try to frame the individual capitalist and labor in such similar terms by beginning with individuals and building up, Marx begins with the whole of the relations which situate the classes and thus individuals in those classes.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm#loc3
If I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts, from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations. From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations.

This of course is contentious in that such considerations are often excluded from economics as being more in the ream of sociology, a distinction which would bifuricate the work of Marxist and how some may interpret him strictly in economic or sociological terms but miss his emphasis on how the forces of production are entwined with social relations.
https://kapitalism101.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/marginal-futility-reflections-on-simon-clarkes-marx-marginalism-and-modern-sociology/
Marginalism can abstract away all of society from economic theory because of its claim that capitalism corresponds to a formal rationality rather than a substantive rationality. Formal rationality is a purely technical calculation of means and ends as opposed to substantive rationality which is oriented around values or higher aims. For instance, in Human Action Mises claims that the basis of economics is the natural quantitative relations between objects… so much input can produce so much output, etc. For marginalism any constraints or limits to the system are purely technical, a result of natural scarcity in relation to our timeless wants, not social, and the market is the best mechanism for organizing these desires. This means that the marginalist model will fail if it can be proven that capitalist institutions have a ‘necessary substantive significance in subjecting individuals to social constraint’. In other words, if the limits and constraints of our society can be shown not the result of technical aspects like scarcity but rather the result of social institutions with particular values oriented toward the interests of certain groups of people (ie the capitalist class) than marginalism has not justification for its formal rationality, for its abstraction of society from economics, and the entire edifice of marginalism falls. It is not enough just to point to this abstraction as proof of the ideological nature of marginalism. We have to prove that it is an illegitimate abstraction. This is the common thread underlying all of Clarke’s specific critiques of different aspects of marginalism. (3)

Marginalists begin with the isolated individual making choices in a vacuum and erect all of their basic ideas upon some simple observations about these choices. As the model becomes increasingly complex, adding in more people, more commodities, money, the division of labor, private property, etc. it is claimed that all of their basic observations still hold. The expansion of the model is seen as just a formal matter. But Clarke argues that when we move from individual exchange to a system of exchange we are actually dealing with different phenomenon. In a market economy exchange is no longer and exchange for direct utility; in other words, we aren’t measuring our actual utility for the commodity we give up with the utility for the commodity we buy. Money intercedes as a mediary. We exchange things against money. Use-values are exchanged for values which are socially determined. Any claim to the formal rationality of the individual’s behaviour becomes dependent upon the rationality of the system as a whole.
...
In abstracting away the social relations of capitalism marginalism must assume that these abstract individuals enter exchange with given needs and given resources. Where do these needs and resources come from? The marginalist answer is that this question is outside the sphere of economics- that it doesn’t matter to economic theory where these needs and resources come from. But what if our economic system actually reproduced these needs and resources? If we could show that capitalism produced the hedonistic consumer as well as the conditions of scarcity the consumer confronts then we could expose a disastrous feedback loop at the core of marginalism. It seems that when we just assume given needs and resources we are actually only pretending to abstract away from capitalist social relations. While on the surface marginalists appear to be talking about a universal individual in universal conditions, in actuality they are sneaking all of the social relations of capitalism in the back door. This is very similar to the Bukharin critique I mentioned a few weeks ago.

I like the way Clarke develop his proof this problem: Commodity exchange presupposes individuals with different needs and different resources because if everyone had the same stuff there would be no reason for exchange. Thus exchange presupposes differences. If exchange is systematic these differences must also be systematic. Thus the formal equality and freedom of exchange is founded on different resource endowments. This means that the content of exchange can’t be reduced to its form (free, juridically equal relations between people) but must be found outside of exchange in the realm of production and property.

carcity relates to the application of labor to produce for need. The basis of exchange is the sale of the products of this labor. Thus the need for a theory of value based on human labor, not subjective whims.

Different types of exchange presuppose different production and property relations. The simple commodity exchange (independent producers exchanging the product of their labor in the market) is a popular image in marginalist accounts of exchange (as well as market-anarchism fantasies) yet such a system of exchange has only existed within larger societies dominated by other social relations (ie feudalism, capitalism, state-capitalism/20th century communism). Capitalist exchange presupposes social relations between two social classes, one owning the means of production, the other nothing. As we’ve seen, Marginalism tries to treat all factors of production with the same theoretical tools of subjective preference theory. But the division of the social product into rent, profit and wages actually presupposes antagonistic social relations between classes and thus requires different theoretical ideas.

Marginalists would like to treat the unequal resource endowments of individuals as due to extra-economic factors, consigning these concerns to the fields of history and sociology. But these inequalities don’t just proceed exchange historically. They are actually reproduced by exchange. Capitalism generates a world in which individuals must maintain a certain standard of living in order to survive (try paying the bills without a phone, house, car, work clothes, haircuts, health-care, etc.) and must engage in wage-labor. And wage-labor actively reproduced the two social classes of capitalist and worker and their violently divergent relationships to the means of production. Without scarcity we couldn’t have wage labor. There would be no reason to work. Thus capitalism must constantly reproduce scarcity.

So in your case as a worker you're not actually seeking a profit because your investment in training isn't capital investing in machines or what ever for production, rather you're aiming to skill up to better negotiate you wage fir jobs that require such training to perform and which nit anyone can step into.
However your skills can be obsolete in the same way technological innovation makes older less efficient productive methods less profitable. However a government can still pay into what isn't unprofitable as they aren't necessarily making a profit out of your work, they get revenue from capitalist profits. However, it may eventually be too costly for even the government to continue but of course governments can be slow and not sunjevt to the same pressures of competition in production as a private firm in need of a profit. But to continue on...

Spoiler: show
Full disclosure: I do in fact have to work bearing with a mostly outdated, obsolete language and part of my work consists on maintaining/managing existing code in it but that's because I work as a government contractor (a nonprofit) and the government keeps using it. I'm making more than ends meet though, so no complaints in that regard, and I'm working on new projects. I do try to keep using another language that is not obsolete even though it faces stiff competition with other languages widely used in my field, which I hope to learn eventually - thankfully all the "in" languages are fairly similar to each other so it's not hard to do so, and also plenty of places will take me with my current programming skills/knowledge if I decide to leave my current job, which I don't want to do. I mention this because this scenario isn't insane at all and can perfectly relate with it because I decided to get a second masters abroad (i.e. emigrate) for a reason - I was also making more than ends meet before arriving here, but the few programming skills and passable statistics knowledge I had were in many, many ways outdated and I'm making way more here since the job market is way better in my new field and it was not so much as to allow me to feel comfortable about doing more than just meet my most basic responsibilities like e.g. live on my own instead of sharing/living with my family.

Yours is an interesting situation to me because a government employee may not be considered a productive laborer in terms of producing a surplus value, however as you are working for a private entity in service of the government, I would say there must be some productivity if one can determine that there is a profit being made for the private company.
https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/p/r.htm#:~:text=%E2%80%9CProductive%E2%80%9D%20labour%20is%20labour%20which,which%20is%20useful%20or%20not.
“Productive” labour is labour which makes a profit for someone.

The terms productive and unproductive labour in Marxist literature, as generally in bourgeois economic literature, are distinct from the concept of labour which is useful or not. Useful labour is purposive activity which meets a human need, whether of oneself or of someone else; productive labour, on the other hand, is labour which is productive in the economic sense, labour which creates new value.
...
Apart from the distinction between “useful” and “productive” labour, it is also useful to take note of the distinction between labour which is exchanged as a commodity and labour which is not.

Marx’s example of the wandering tailor in the Grundrisse:

“For example, when the peasant takes a wandering tailor, of the kind that existed in times past, into his house, and gives him the material to make clothes with. ... The man who takes the cloth I supplied to him and makes me an article of clothing out of it gives me a use value. But instead of giving it directly in objective form, he gives it in the form of activity. I give him a completed use value; he completes another for me. The difference between previous, objectified labour and living, present labour here appears as a merely formal difference between the different tenses of labour, at one time in the perfect and at another in the present.” [Grundrisse, part 9, Original Accumulation of Capital]

illustrates an example of where the labour is provided as a commodity, but is not employed in the production of surplus-value, but simply given directly in the form of activity. Thus the wandering tailor is not a productive worker, because he does not sell labour-power but labour itself. The schoolteacher in the example before was a productive labour if he was employed in a private school and laboured to “enrich the school proprietor”.

Thus Public Sector workers are not, for capital, “productive workers" even though they sell their labour power in just the same way as a Private Sector workers...

However, the government itself does not produce surplus value as much as it takes a slice of surplus value from capitalists surplus through taxes and such. Everyone takes a slice of the pie and they redistribute it in some manner.
So where there could be exploitation is with the private company you actually work for.
My speculation is that while they might not be competitive, they might have an in with the government to sustain their contract. However I'm also thinking that programming languages aren't like technical means of production either, a change in language isn't necessarily a sign of being less productive, they might have certain limitations that makes other more suitable depending on the tasks. So it's perhaps the case also that it's not necessarily one programming language is unproductive.
BUt again, if you simply haven't got the skills and training that is relevant to companies, then yeah you haven't got leverage on which to pitch yourself to sell your labour power. Obsolete methods simply becomes socially unnecessary.

So again, I wouldn't say that somehow you're exploiting yourself, is indeed the taking of a risk and failing.
But of course these examples are clearly distinct from the average capitalist who employs workers to labor on their property. Even when thinking of self-employed people, they may like the wandering tailor example not be engaging in selling their labour power but directly their labour as a service and aren't exploitation themselves. But in such areas where work like that exists, a market can emerge and capitalist invest in it where it can be made productive and thus eliminate individual actors working independently.

That is about as far as my ruminations go at the moment.


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Rugoz wrote:A competitive market doesn't allow for unions or any other form of market power. Obviously a union can extract higher wages just as a monopoly can extract higher profits. It's not relevant to the question at hand however.

That's fine, I agree with this characterization, I simply wanted to clarify that you understand at least that there is some element of struggle which can dictate the price of labour power.

Let's look at this entire paragraph:
The issue here is that the labour power is not a commodity. The capitalist has no control over it. He cannot prevent the worker or his offspring, let along the worker's entire dynasty, to work for another capitalist. The capitalist has an incentive to pay for the worker's existence to the extent it improves the worker's immediate productivity, but not for his reproduction. Capitalists as a class would have an interest to do so, but it won't happen because the individual capitalist can increase his profit by not doing so (not within the framework of competitive markets anyway, and not in reality either to be frank). The capitalists ultimately pay higher wages because they have to compete for the worker's labour time.

But let's assume for a moment that the capitalists as a class or the state would pay for worker reproduction. That would put no limit on the size of wages. If workers wouldn't start to reproduce before they own a yacht, that would be the cost of labour power (short of education etc.).

How is labour power not a commodity?
Just because a labourer can in the abstract seek out alternative work under another capitalist, this doesn't somehow make labour power not a commodity.

Well this is what I think reproductivity of the working class in a sense constitutes, not only their overall existence and propagation but even the level of having them show up to work. And workers do need to work to survive because they don't have a means of subsistence and thus need money to survive so they must sell what they have, their labour-power.
So the individual capitalist is interested in getting workers to do the work and will pay as low as they can to achieve that. While the worker may try to bargain as high as they can but they are often at a disadvantage time wise in trying to bargain individually unless they are exceptionally trained/skilled such that they can really press the necessity of their labor. Which is just on the individual scale what a workers strike does in emphasizing the capitalist's dependence on the labor of workers.

I don't see us disagreeing that a capitalist has to pay a worker to the extent that they're willing to show up to work and people can be quite desperate in some cases and not necessarily with other opportunities to leverage their wage as they're uneducated or there isn't must alternative options in work and so on.
The capitalist can live longer without the individual worker than the individual worker can live without working for a capitalist. Think of the precariousness of anyone who has only a modest sum saved up and fears being fired.

Yes, in some industries there is competition over hiring certain workers because of their skills. This may not be as much the case in less skilled and lower paid work where replacing the worker is much more accessible.
And thinking of the precariousness of many workers, its difficult to imagine how they would be able to assert themselves to not work enough until they got a yacht unless they already had their needs satisfied and such it would indeed break the needs of a capitalist economy because that's the disciplining factor for the working class in large part, work, or you won't be paid and if you don't get paid, good luck paying your rent, for your car maintenance and fuel, your food for you and your family and everything that a person needs to buy to live among that particular society. Of which many people as individuals do not meet such a level.
This minimum wage, like the determination of the price of commodities in general by cost of production, does not hold good for the single individual, but only for the race. Individual workers, indeed, millions of workers, do not receive enough to be able to exist and to propagate themselves; but the wages of the whole working class adjust themselves, within the limits of their fluctuations, to this minimum.

But assuming such political power as to meet the needs of workers, then yeah, they would be hard to squeeze a profit out of because they wouldn't be as accessible to exploit based on the difference in the purchase of labour power/wages compared to their actual productive labor performed.

Basically when it comes to considering the sort of consumptive needs of workers, you then have to consider what are the relations of production.
https://kapitalism101.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/law-of-value-8-subjectobject/
This means that in order for a capitalist market to work there must be the constant reproduction of a certain type of property relations in which people have to enter the market in order to get what they need to live. Specifically people must be deprived of their own means of production, forced to enter the market to sell their labor in order to buy the things they need. This property relation must be continually reproduced through exchange so that there is always scarcity and people are always dependent on the market.
...
The products which consumers buy with this money are not just the random result of psychological preferences. In fact, most of our money goes to the purchase of very basic things we need in order to keep us alive as workers so that we can produce more value for capitalism each day: rent, food, clothes. (8) These are needs and desires dictated to us by capitalism, for the purpose of perpetuating capitalism, not the abstract psychological preferences of isolated individuals. (9)

This point is most apparent in the case of colonialism as noted by E. G. Wakefield that when there is far greater supply of land and limited labor, you can't coerce someone to work for you for money because they can simply work land for themselves and their own needs. This is part of Marx's emphasis that it is the property relations in which people are deprived of any other means of meeting their needs that they must work and things can be largely organized to the advantage of the capitalist seeking to make a profit where they have great influence over politics and other things in which to depress wages. ANd surprisingly we do see such efforts in practice in opposing things which would cut into the profit and surplus value of the working day.
#15171720
Julian658 wrote:It is a legit question if we are talking about marxism.
Where would your socio economic status be higher? In Canada or Cuba?
Don't be so afraid POD.


You are completely ignoring my argument that poverty would have been entirely eradicated by now if it not were capitalism.

Until you address that, you will be ignored.
#15171726
Pants-of-dog wrote:You are completely ignoring my argument that poverty would have been entirely eradicated by now if it not were capitalism.

Until you address that, you will be ignored.


POD

World poverty has been declining steadily, more so in the last 20 years. You are a STEM man so I assume you know how to interpret a graph.
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#15171729
ckaihatsu wrote:
Profit, by definition, is strictly in terms of *exchange values*, which are discrete formal *quantities* of abstracted valuations.



wat0n wrote:
Then what's the issue with having profits measured in terms of exchange values?



I just said that -- that's how it is.


wat0n wrote:
But if all commodity prices go down, you do have a case of deflation, again, keeping money supply constant.

What commodity price stays the same under this dynamic?



Okay, so you *are* admitting that the rate of profit declines -- it's no good for capitalists and savers, but it's good for equity capital investors in that face-values tend to get cheap (cheap government capital), to use for investments, though good luck finding anything worth investing in, since so much cheap capital is chasing after relatively low rates of profit / returns.


wat0n wrote:
If all prices go down then you have the case of deflation...



Correct -- tell that to the MMTers since they're doing their Chicken Little routine about how '70s-style hyperinflation is right around the corner, despite interest rates remaining stubbornly low.


wat0n wrote:
Are you denying there are different interpretations of Marx's writing?

You sound like a religious fanatic.



Yeah, I basically *am* denying that there are different interpretations of Marx, primarily because his political-economy is *not* religion. He's scientifically accurate in his assessment of class conflict and how bourgeois economics operates. Anyone who has differences with Marx is basically going to be *non-Marxian* because of how precise he is with his descriptions, and also how well they jibe to objective social reality.


wat0n wrote:
A fact that hasn't been proven empirically either. Particularly not when you don't cherry pick your initial period, but even in that case it seems to level off at a fixed level rather than permanently trend down.



Actually, if you read back over the last few exchanges you'll see that you've been tacitly *accepting* the facts around the declining rate of profit, like overproduction and falling prices.


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ckaihatsu wrote:
It's class bias because you're only concerned with addressing the 'exciting' and dramatic realm of finished-commodity fluctuating dynamics of market pricing, according to the balance of supply-and-demand, boosted by speculative bubbles like currently that of cryptocurrencies.



wat0n wrote:
What does that have to do with class?



Anyone, like yourself, who only looks at the market pricing of a commodity *after* it's been produced is tacitly ignoring the *cost* of producing that commodity in the first place, including the cost of *labor* inputs, for its production. Ignoring the economics of the *production* of a commodity is ignoring the workers' essential *role* in conferring exchange value (prices) onto the commodity by bringing it into existence so that it can be sold.


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ckaihatsu wrote:
Meanwhile, the *original* valuation of the commodity -- what it cost to produce, from capital depreciation and exploited labor value, is *glossed over*, if not ignored altogether, in typical economics treatments. Bourgeois culture would rather *ignore* the fact of necessary labor inputs, and labor exploitation, in the commodity production process.



wat0n wrote:
No one is ignoring that, it just isn't as important. You argument is as absurd as saying workers should only earn whatever taking care of their physical needs and training costs.



Well, if the cost of the *workers' production* of a commodity is ignored then you're dependent on a valuation of the commodity based on market pricing only, and that fallacy has already been addressed here on this thread.


wat0n wrote:
So in your view, if I make a machine on my own and rent it at a price below cost to someone else I'm not being exploited? :)



Correct, because you obviously are under no duress to rent it out at all. You'd more-accurately be described as an incompetent capitalist here.

The wherewithal required to produce machinery in the first place, for oneself, is basically *free time* without having to work for a wage for the procurement of socially necessary commodities.

Worrkers generally *have no* machinery to rent out for income, or at least not enough of it to become petty bourgeois themselves, per your scenario.

Without such capital to leverage, workers *must* sell their labor-power to a capitalist employer, for the sake of a wage, for the sake of life-necessary commodities, for modern life and living. It's a material situation of *duress*, or *compulsion* -- and if it's not to one particular employer, then it's to another, regardless.
#15171730
Pants-of-dog wrote:@Unthinking Majority
And I already disagreed about your moralistic claim that socialists need to convince others first. We have been trying to convince people for years that capitalism is causing major problems but no one listens. And frankly, no one demands that capitalism explain how it is better.

It's not a moralistic claim in any way, it's a logical claim. It's a cost/benefit analysis. If I drive an automobile and someone says "there's a better automobile, you should buy it and drive it instead", there needs to be some kind of evidence or logical reasoning that this new automobile is worth the change. Is it more reliable? Better on gas? Better safety rating?

Any reasonable person is aware of the many problems caused by capitalism, but we haven't discovered a better system yet unfortunately. Marxism has pointed out exploitation in capitalism, which is fine, but it has yet to create a system to solve that problem that's better than capitalism. The best there is so far is social democracy, which is a mix of capitalism with socialism, a kind of compromise taking the best of both.

Julian658 wrote:It is a legit question if we are talking about marxism.
Where would your socio economic status be higher? In Canada or Cuba?
Don't be so afraid POD.

People vote with their feet. People don't move to Cuba, they flee from it. The opposite for Canada.
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