wat0n wrote:Or maybe the same person can actually be both a capitalist and a worker depending on the situation. What stops you, after all, from renting your own home using AirBnB? Aren't you acting as a capitalist in that situation?
Maybe you want to choose the example of someone directly renting out their home unmediated by the AirBnB app because AirBnB takes a cut of the work as a kind of digital platform middleman which does little of the actual work. So I would also emphasize that AirBnB is making money for what is pretty much advertising and bring consumers to those with places to stay rather than even outright owning such properties and providing the actual service.
But in the more direct case, does one not act as a landlord even if its within the same property which you live?
Oddly enough, heard cases where someone tries this on the property of their landlord's and when found out, their rent goes up XD
And often the ideal of airbnb peeps is actually to have a distinct and separate property just like a landlord, but its of course smaller scale than having a hotel with a series of rooms depending on how big the property is.
And we would have to examine the dynamic in the sort of work the person running the airbnb is doing and the money made. Are they earning so much that they are more like a landlord or are they more breaking even when one considers how much they're busting their ass to maintain the place and provide clean sheets and all that.
That's a weird definition of capital, under it a Picasso portrait could easily count as such. But that's another difference, as the neoclassical definition of "capital" corresponds to goods or services that are used to produce other goods or services. From that point of view, of course the concept of "human capital" makes sense.
The definition focuses on the ability of money to actually change into a great value through the process of first being an investment in certain commodities and back into money.
It focuses on the process in which capital actually realizes a profit and the essence of capitalism where the only investment is done in pursuit of profit, otherwise it's unclear how you constitute the money as capital as otherwise.
Can one imagine a capitalist not driven by such a fundamental pursuit? They would not stand to be a capitalist for long if not.https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/12641/33292_1.pdf?sequence=1
This is how one of the top 30 Australian directors describes the role of capital and the freedom of capitalists to invest where they like:
Most governments that I have spoken to have no understanding of private capitalism. Now I have heard people say that you should feel privileged to be committed to invest in Australia. Really! The whole world is our oyster so what is so special about here? New Zealand is the same! Their attitude is we are permitting you to invest. So what! The whole world is on offer to us so what is so good about you? They think that they are the pearls in the oyster of the world. Australians in Canberra are remote from the real world. They don’t understand why you invest. It isn’t something that they have ever been involved in and they say, ‘We have improved the conditions — so now you do your bit’. What do they mean — my turn? We don’t have turns; we put our money out when we think that it’s good for us. That’s all we do. We don’t look for any other reason — it’s not a turn. Not when …Keating or Howard or other politicians say we have made all the conditions right, now it’s up to you to go and do it, unless we can see the market we are not going to invest.14
Also artworks are a rather unusual commodity because they are treated like other commodities but they only become as such because of the large scale commodity production of capitalism that they acquire such a price.
By “form of commodity exchange” I refer to a class society in which most people must buy their subsistence and sell their labor power in the market because they are divorced from the means of production. Labor is organized through commodity exchange and money stands as the universal measure of value. The exchange of products of labor take the form of market exchange. The exchange of non-produced things, like honor and conscience, also take the form of commodity exchange, even though they are not commodities.
Though BB does not bring up the topic at this point we might also mention the exchange-value of produced commodities that are not freely reproducible. A one-of-a-kind work of art like a Picasso painting is a commodity but it cannot be reproduced. Thus it does not respond to the pressure of socially necessary labor time. The exchange-value of a Picasso is a reflection of whatever someone is willing to pay for it at the moment, much like honor and conscience. Marx excludes non-reproducible commodities from his analysis for the most part as well since they are peripheral to capitalist production. However, like imaginary value, when we look at non-reproducible commodities we see that they take the form of commodity-exchange because that is the dominant form of social labor in our society.
In another thread I in fact mention how absurd the markets are on artworks.
Also Marx is distinguished in emphasizing that capital is a social relation and not necessarily a thing although it is experienced through things.
When therefore Galiani says: Value is a relation between persons ... he ought to have added: a relation between persons expressed as a relation between things. (I, p. 74)https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/c/a.htm
Capital is not just wealth, but wealth in a specific historically developed form: wealth that grows through the process of circulation. As an aside, it should be noted that wealth itself is a social relation, not just an accumulation of things. For example, if you owe someone a favour, then that is something personal between the two of you; if your debt is determined by a third party or by some social ritual such as a birthday, then that is a social relation. Wealth is a social relation in the same sense, and its various historically developed forms are social relations. The issue is to understand exactly what kind of social relation is capital and where it leads.
But to outline this I would go down the route of some philosophy in understanding the problem of ideality which still confuses people even the philsoohpucally minded who tend to reduce materialism and idealism to that which is tangible and that which is subjective and a product of the mind even though many intangible things are very material as defined as existing independent of our consciousness.
And ideality itself is a product of social relations which end up as supresenous but objective qualities belonging to a thing but not universally necessary but because of the social relations.
For example Marx talks about a black man being a black man, but only within particular relations is he a slave.
So to is it the case that many objects we experience as commodities isn't a property of objects but social relations and it is this alienation that mystifies people and produces fetishism.
The best work detailing this is by Evald Ilyenkov: https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/ideal/ideal.htm
For the worker, wages are in fact a profit once he discounts his own costs of working (e.g. commuting, training, etc).
See this is a issue I think we'll continue to have as you seem to want to make some things the same or indistinct from one another where as I think class relations are essential elements when considering capitalist production and that it is an issue in some economic theory that it tends to treat individuals in a similar fashion. We may go down the road of why such a methodology is ideological in ultimately conflating capitalist and workers as if they're simply individuals meeting in the market freely while entirely ignoring structural relations which constitute each class. https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/abstract/abstra1g.htm
To express the individual in thought, to understand the individual in its organic links with other instances of the individual and the concrete essence of their connection, one must not look for a naked abstraction, for an identical feature abstractly common to all of them taken separately.
Let us now take a more complex and at the same time more striking example. Wherein lies, for instance, the actual, living, concrete and objective bond between the capitalist and the wage workers, that ‘general element’ which each of these individual economic characters has in comparison with others? The fact that both of them are men, both of them need food, clothing, etc., both of them are capable of reasoning, talking, working? Undoubtedly they have all of these features. Moreover, all of this even constitutes the necessary premise of their bond as capitalist and wage worker, yet it in no wise constitutes the very essence of their relation as capitalist and wage worker. Their actual bond is founded on the fact that each of them has an economic trait that the other lacks, that their economic definitions are diametrically opposed. The point is that one of them possesses a feature that the other lacks, and he possesses it exactly because the other does not have it. Each mutually needs the other because of the diametrical opposition of their economic definitions. And that is exactly what makes them the necessary poles of an identical relation binding them stronger than anything they might have in common (‘their sameness’).
One individual thing is as it is, and not the other thing, exactly because the other is diametrically opposed to it in all characteristics. That is exactly why it cannot exist as such without the other, outside its connection with its own opposite. As long as a capitalist remains a capitalist and a wage worker, a wage worker, each of them necessarily reproduces in the other a diametrically opposed economic definiteness. One of them appears as a wage worker because the other is a capitalist vis-à-vis the former, the two economic figures having diametrically opposed traits.
That means that the essence of their bond within the given concrete relationship is based precisely on complete absence of a definition abstractly common to both.
A capitalist cannot, within this bond, have any traits that a wage worker possesses, and vice versa. And that means that none of them possesses an economic definition that would be simultaneously inherent in the other, that would be common to both. It is precisely this community that is lacking in their concrete economic bond.
It is a well-known fact that the banal apologists castigated by Marx insisted on looking for the basis of the mutual links between capitalist and worker in the community of their economic characteristics. From Marx’s viewpoint, the really concrete unity of two or more interacting individual, Particular things (phenomena, processes, men, etc.) always appears as the unity of mutually exclusive opposites. Between them, between aspects of this concrete interaction there is nothing abstractly identical or abstractly general and neither can there be.
In fact, class often isn't used in the Marxian sense which leads to an arbitrary process of differentiation by income and so on. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch52.htm#:~:text=The%20owners%20merely%20of%20labour,the%20capitalist%20mode%20of%20production.
The first question to he answered is this: What constitutes a class? — and the reply to this follows naturally from the reply to another question, namely: What makes wage-labourers, capitalists and landlords constitute the three great social classes?
At first glance — the identity of revenues and sources of revenue. There are three great social groups whose members, the individuals forming them, live on wages, profit and ground-rent respectively, on the realisation of their labour-power, their capital, and their landed property.
However, from this standpoint, physicians and officials, e.g., would also constitute two classes, for they belong to two distinct social groups, the members of each of these groups receiving their revenue from one and the same source. The same would also be true of the infinite fragmentation of interest and rank into which the division of social labour splits labourers as well as capitalists and landlords-the latter, e.g., into owners of vineyards, farm owners, owners of forests, mine owners and owners of fisheries.
And this seems to apply to you're thinking, trying to see individuals as a split between classes but lacking the structural relation that is seen as Essential in Marxism and I would argue is objectively essential and not simply an artbiary selection of Marx but derived from a more concrete synthesized kind of analysis.
Reflecting not class but strata and thus the arbitrary quality of such a concept that doesn't properly understify the particular thing which constitutes the particulars of class. https://www.sociology.cam.ac.uk/system/files/documents/cs14.pdf
This distinction between the concepts of class and strata is also relevant when assessing Goldthorpe’s concept of the “service class”, a similar attempt to combine production-based and market-based criteria, which mistakenly conflates working class professionals and self-employed individuals (“free professions” like lawyers, doctors and consultants), failing to account for the fundamental production-based differences in their position through an oversimplified argument about the “trust”- and autonomy-based “service contract”, which supposedly puts them in an altogether different class from employees in “ordinary”, “wage contracts” (Goldthorpe et al., 1980). In reality, as Wright (1989, 333) later noted, these semi-autonomous professional employees actually belong to a more privileged stratum of the working class; different strata can be distinguished by “varying degrees of exploitation within a common location in the social relations of production. Strata within the bourgeoisie, accordingly, depend upon the amount of surplus they appropriate (...)“. Still, as I have already explained, performance of labour or capital functions also largely determines individual class locations and market- and status-based “class” or “stratification” hierarchies which often have the greatest impact on the individual’s consciousness and behaviour.
So what you are perhaps focused on i s strata because not all workers are of the same standing due to income and such. But this doesn't undermine Marx's notion of class at all, it can compliment it but it is distinctly something else.
A case of Abstract universal vs concrete universal.
Indeed, freelancing isn't the dominant mode of production (for now at least) but its very existence is something Marxian theories can't really account for or deal with. Not that freelancing is all that new either.
And is contract labor somehow essentially different to wage labor generally? That it exists doesn't pose some sort of contradiction to Marx. They still have to sell their labour to survive and as such are part of the working class.
Unless you're wanting to characterize something more like a tradesman who is more petty-bourgeoisie and runs his own company with a few apprentices.
But again, I'm not really seeing much on the face of the concept being an issue.
If the goal was to change the mode of production then you'll need to find some technological way to make production without using industrial means more efficient than our industrialized production. Perhaps only in an economy where people work mostly in the service industries, performing services that cannot be standardized and automated while leaving all the production that can be automated in the hands of robots? Although right now most of the labor force does work in the service industries (itself a problem for Marxian interpretations, since it's based on producing goods for the most part and I don't think it can account well for e.g. freelance provision of services), there are still plenty of services that are repetitive and perhaps labor intensive, and industrialized in nature where one could attempt an imperfect analogy with the production of goods (it's imperfect because even in those services there seems to be more variation in the output than in the industrial production of goods fulfilling something like a Four Sigma Standard - something that's basically impossible without automating production). However, even those are being gradually automated e.g. people don't wash their clothes manually anymore and no one would set a service to do that nowadays, much of banking is also done through apps (i.e. without conscious human intervention) and banks are gradually closing branches in some places as a result, etc.
Anyway, that change in the mode of production's not coming from a political revolution. If it happens, it will come from a technological revolution and it will be because the change will be more profitable than keeping things as is. It will also be a very slow change and just another stage of the Industrial Revolution we're still in the midst of. And maybe that's where we're going right now, since there is a constant push to automate production as much as possible and indeed automating customized services is one of the hardest things to do, which would thus leave a venue for labor in that sort of activities.
Indeed, technological change in production is but a precondition to changing an economic structure. Do not forget that even the bourgeoisie waged war upon the aristoticracy the world over and that things didn't peacefully transition.
So while increased physical production through technological advancement is a precondition, it is insufficient in itself. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm
In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.
Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.
The idea here being that communists don't seem to put their faith solely
in technological development.
Although it is of course controversial how one would identify such a state of affairs.http://caute.ru/am/text/dogstate.html
ike everything ideal, the human personality is only a reflection of social being, the process of production of the material life of society. To educate amateur universal personalities, it is necessary to change the conditions of their material existence , and above all, the nature of human labor. Material, abstract labor must stop, disappear forever from the face of the earth . As long as there is “labor in which a person does what he can make things do for himself, for a person” (Marx), the reification of relations between people (private property, the market, the state, etc.) also persists . In the world of material labor, communist relations between people are, in principle, impossible. Material labor dictates private forms of appropriation of conditions and products of labor. Marx was the first to ignore this discovery of his. Marxism as a political doctrine is not on friendly terms with the historical-materialist theory of Marx. No dictatorships and communes can eliminate the material nature of labor, and hence private property, the market and the state. Such a task can only be done by automatically operating machines . As soon as they nullify material labor , capitalism will immediately "fall asleep by itself": after all, capital is nothing else but materialized labor .
Do you think Marx only considered tangible commodities the source of value?
Marx definitely focuses on industrial production a lot but I don't think service industries somehow pose a problem to his examination of value which is based in the material world but isn't confined to physical objects.
I already touched upon the issue of someone who provides labor as a service and not a specific good for trade.https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/help/value.htm
One point which may need to be made about Marx's theory of value arises because Ernest Mandel, who was regarded by many as the foremost expert on Marx's political economy, held that for Marx, a commodity could only have value unless it was a tangible "material" object. This is completely false. If it were true, the whole of this work would of course fly in the face of Marxism.
In Chapter One of Capital, Marx points out that (exchange-)value has no connection with the physical properties of a commodity, and value is "the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance". The most important commodity of all, labour-power, is a "service" not a good. In the Grundrisse, Marx deals with a wood-cutter, a porter and a wandering tailor, all of whom are stated not to create value, because, as self-employed contractors, they sell not labour power but the product.
In discussing the lot of a school teacher, Marx says:
"So far as the labour process is purely individual, one and the same labourer unites in himself all the functions, that later on become separated. When an individual appropriates natural objects for their livelihood, no one controls them but themself. Afterwards they are controlled by others. A single person cannot operate upon Nature without calling their own muscles into play under the control of their own brain. As in the natural body, head and hand wait upon each other, so the labour-process unites the labour of the hand with that of the head. Later on they part company and even become deadly foes. The product ceases to be the direct product of the individual, and becomes a social product, produced in common by a collective labourer, i.e., by a combination of workers, each of whom takes only a part, greater or less, in the manipulation of the subject of their labour. As the co-operative character of the labour-process becomes more and more marked, so, as a necessary consequence, does our notion of productive labour, and of its agent the productive labourer, become extended.
"In order to labour productively, it is no longer necessary for you to do manual work yourself; enough, if you are an organ of the collective labourer, and perform one of its subordinate functions. The first definition given above of productive labour, a definition deduced from the very nature of the production of material objects, still remains correct for the collective labourer, considered as a whole. But it no longer holds good for each member taken individually.
"On the other hand, however, our notion of productive labour becomes narrowed. Capitalist production is not merely the production of commodities, it is essentially the production of surplus value. The labourer produces, not for themself, but for capital. It no longer suffices, therefore, that they should simply produce. They must produce surplus-value.
"That labourer alone is productive, who produces surplus-value for the capitalist, and thus works for the self-expansion of capital. If we may take an example from outside the sphere of production of material objects, a schoolteacher is a productive labourer, when, in addition to belabouring the heads of their scholars, they work like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out their capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation. Hence the notion of a productive labourer implies not merely a relation between work and useful effect, between labourer and product of labour, but also a specific, social relation of production, a relation that has sprung up historically and stamps the labourer as the direct means of creating surplus-value. To be a productive labourer is, therefore, not a piece of luck, but a misfortune." [Capital Volume I, Part V, emphasis added]
Thus makes it abundantly clear that it is not the material (or immaterial) form of the product, but the prodcution relations within which it is produced that invest a commodity with value.
And it is indeed something which Marx praises a great deal about capitalism even while he detests its destruction of humanity, that it revolutionizes the production process, that technological advancement is an ongoinging and dynamic part of capitalism even while he sees it as being a significant part of causing economic crises in the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. The idea being that while the initial capitalist who develops a technology wins out a super-profit against competitors as they produce more efficiently but can sell at the same average price, thus taking value away from sluggish producers, overall machines do not create more value but only use-values.
The plus side is that it clearly reduces the need for as many people to labor in an industry as seen with agriculture, can feed more people with less workers. It is a sign of pushing back necessity in the scarcity of time and labor which is allocated to things.
See this is where we would of course disagree in that I don't think such changes around production are so seamless and easy. If anything one can see how some industries can be a fetter on development such as "green" technologies being suppressed by the old energy industries. There can be a great conflict between the force of production and social relations.
And it conflicts with the idea of acknowledging qualitative change upon reaching a quantitative limit, that things build up and change radically in quality that they become something new. This being the Communist tendency to emphasize conflict and dynamic change as opposed to a static equilibrium and harmony which is temporarily sustained. https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/positive/positii.htm
It is remarkable that in not one of the works of the Machists will we find an intelligible explanation of the meaning of this word. They all prefer to explain it by means of examples. But throughout the entire system of such examples, the actual meaning of this 'empirio-symbol' clearly shines through: it is first of all a state of inviolable rest and immobility. It is the absence of any noticeable changes or deviations, the absence of motion.
Equilibrium means the absence of any state of conflict, of any contradictions whatsoever, i.e. of forces which pull in different, contradictory directions. And where is this seen? You will never see such a state, even in the shop, even in the example of the scales. Even here equilibrium is only a passing result, an ephemeral effect, which is achieved at precisely that moment because two opposing forces are directed at each end of the lever: one presses upward, and the other presses downward.
In the Russian language, equilibrium means: 'A state of immobility, of rest, in which a body is under the influence of equal and opposing forces.' But according to the logic of Machism, the presence of opposing forces exerting pressure at one point (or on one body) is already a bad state of affairs. It resembles the state which is designated in Hegelian language as contradiction, as 'a body's state of discomfort', in which two opposing forces exert pressure, either squeezing the body from two opposite sides or tearing it in half.
Such an understanding of equilibrium is therefore unacceptable for the Machists. How could it possibly be that equilibrium turns out to be only the passing and quickly disappearing result of contradiction, the result of the action of opposites applied at one point, i.e. the very state which every living organism tries to escape as soon as possible, and by no means the state which it supposedly is striving to achieve.
Here then arises the concept of equilibrium which the Machists want to counterpose to contradiction, which is the presence of two opposing forces. It is a state in which two opposing forces have ceased to exist and therefore no longer squeeze or tear apart the ideal body (or the equally ideal point of their application). The forces have ceased to exist and have disappeared, but the state which they have established at a given point still remains. Equilibrium is a state of this kind. A state characterised by the absence of any opposing forces whatsoever, be they internal or external, physical or psychic.
In this form, equilibrium is the ideal. It is the ideal model of the cosmos and the psychics, the fundamental philosophical category of Machism, and the starting point of Machist arguments about the cosmos, about history, and about thinking. The aspiration to escape once and for all from all contradictions whatsoever from whatever kind of opposing forces, is the striving for equilibrium.
In addition to all the rest, equilibrium finds under these conditions all the characteristics which ancient philosophy describes with the words 'inner goal', 'objective goal', and 'immanent goal'. According to Machist logic, equilibrium is by no means a real state, given in experience, even if in passing, but only the ideal and the goal of nature, man, and being in general.
Such an equilibrium is static, complete, disturbed by nothing, an equilibrium of rest, an equilibrium of immobility, a state of 'suspension in the cosmic void'. It is the ideal model of the Machist Bogdanovian concept of equilibrium.
It depends on how you stretch the term "profit". If a government performs a good job, gaining legitimacy as a result and thus allows those who run it to establish their own clientelistic networks or to engage in the usual corruption while the public prefers to look to the other side, is this profit? In a very concrete sense, yes, it is.
And if running those services in a minimally competent way allows the government to e.g. collect more tax revenue, then it is effectively making a profit as well.
Making wonder if you're switching to an individual level of abstraction where there are corrupt politicians who receive money for favors and things of this nature and not sure speaking of a government broadly making a profit in terms of investing money and making a return.
Because tax revenue if it is to have value comes from the productive parts of society and government often funds and subsidizes things that aren't profitable or aren't best run for a profit, in spite of the neoliberal tendency to privatize everything and run it out of a company under the notion that it's always superior to the bureaucracy of government.
And my impression is that governments try to run services as a minimal cost while a capitalist enterprise tries to achieve a profit, which marks them distinctly.https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/p/r.htm
As a nationalised industry, the driving force is to provide the best services according to criteria set by the government, at the smallest possible cost to the public purse.
As a privatised industry, the driving force is to make the maximum possible profit. This in turn implies meeting customer demand on the largest possible scale.
A public health service for example, is always starved of funds and does its best to dissuade patients from seeking its services, either by allowing long queues to grow up, or by public health and preventive medicine approaches, but it cannot refuse anyone its service. A private health service, on the other hand, tries to attract patients, perhaps even using advertising to create pseudo-illnesses to encourage people to spend their money on “treatment”; they can turn away anyone who cannot be cured for a profit, and let them die, but so long as they can make a profit, they will never be short of funding.
When industries are privatised, governments usually use regulation and reward-and-punishment methods of funding, to mitigate these negative social effects of privatisation.
The government's revenue comes from taking a slice from capitalist' profits (and taxing workers from their wages), but it doesn't seem apparent that a government necessarily makes a profit itself in how they usually function.
That depends on how you regard it. At least that sort of situation, where there is the disconnect between the value of a worker's production and his earnings, would be labeled as exploitation in a different context as you mention. It seems odd to name the same phenomenon differently just because it happens in a commune.
The point of labour-power is if it's a commodity, a wage provided to someone so that they can afford the necessities to exist and continue to go to work. There are all kinds of labor which aren't linked to labour-power for much of human history and to illustrate what is going on one needs to detail the situation in which people labor.
A slave didn't sell their labour-power, they themselves were property and the products of their labor automatically owned by someone else. A serf did not sell their labour-power, they had a clear division of working some set amount for their lord and the rest for themselves. They had their means of production on their land which they worked on and then did unpaid labor for the lord.
Where we can see a surplus, the particular relationship of production in capital is distinct from these two, where there historically is the framing that workers are paid for their labor but Marx argues that there isn't a contradiction in the equality of exchange and that workers are being robbed, rather they are paid in full for their capacity to work.
What I can speculate is that there something which are called 'wages' in a commune and a co-op, but does it replicate the same sort of relation as under the capitalist where they're being paid for their labour-power.
My suspicion is yes as they're receiving a set wage. Your effort to criticize the concept of exploitation here though is how one functions under capitalist production without capital personified within a human capitalist. But Marx's analysis isn't a criticism of any particular capitalist, but an analysis of capitalist production and the relations there of.https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/marx-subject.htm
My physics teacher at school also told me that the hydrogen atom ‘needs’ two electrons, that systems ‘seek’ equilibrium and as an old civil engineer I know that the best way to find the weak point in structure is to imagine myself as the structure. We civilised human beings not only reify human powers as if they were natural forces, we also anthropomorphise natural process for the purpose of understanding them. It not only makes processes without a subject easier to comprehend if we imagine them to be the work of some subject with specific aims, it is also humorous! Marx is doing nothing more than this in these excerpts, except perhaps that we should add irony to his intentions.
Marx makes it clear that the ‘subject’ he is referring to is not the human owner of capital:
“As a capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one sole driving force, the drive to valorize itself, to create surplus value, to make its constant part, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus labour. Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.” – Capital, p.342
Capitalist's are no more in control of the economy than workers in the sense that they are reactive to it rather than directors of it. The issue is the system of production and this is where Marx is critical of those who pose communes and such even while retaining commodity production and exchange.http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/10867/1/VWills_ETD_2011.pdf
Even on this argument, Mill leaves intact what Marx identifies as the essence of the capitalist system—commodity exchange. Marx has no shortage of arguments for why it is Utopian to propose that commodity exchange could be the economic basis for what Mill would recognize as more just relations of distribution. “Co-operative enterprises,” producing and exchanging commodities within a market economy, it must be said, are capitalist firms, and if they are to survive at all, they must operate in ways that are determined by the same economic laws of competition and supply and demand that, as Marx devotes so much attention to arguing, have had and continue to have a destructive social effect which must be overcome. This is the point of Marx’s numerous critiques of the capitalist Robert Owen and the production of workers’ co-operative enterprises as a way to be rid of the negative aspects of capitalism. It is not as though Marx were unaware that this was being proposed125; but he is less than sanguine about the prospects because of cases like this one:
Equitable Labour Exchange Bazaars or Offices (the name is given in English in the German original) were founded by the workers' co-operative societies in various towns of England in 1832. This movement was headed by Robert Owen, who founded such a bazaar in London. The products of labour at these bazaars were exchanged for a kind of paper "money" issued as labour "tickets", a working hour being the unit. These bazaars were an attempt by the Utopians to organise exchange without money in the conditions of capitalist commodity production and soon proved to be a failure. (MECW 8:135)
Co-operative enterprises within a system of capitalist commodity production have been attempted, but they have remained small experiments and have not shown themselves to be likely candidates as roads to socialism. What J. S. Mill leaves fixed, even by Cohen’s lights, are features of the capitalist mode of production which Marx argues must be abolished if a rational distribution of goods is to be achieved.
As such, if there is still the production of goods as commodities, then there is no disruption to the law of value
The focal point is that workers in the co-op while they might have some greater say in the management of the company, are still having to work just as hard, over and above the meeting of their own subsistence as the money or profit, over and above their necessary labor is to be reinvested in the company/co-op.
So while there may not be the personification of a particular person, the capitalist relations still prevail, they are still operating largely the same. And it is in fact the exchange of commodities that Marx is fixed on in explaining the degrdation of humans, not a Ricardian socialist notion that laborers are owed full payment for their labor. This being a point raised against any idea of injustice, Marx considers the gap between labor power and labor performed as just within the organization of capital even while he makes an appeal that capitalism is wrong from the standpoint of human flourishing.
In the case of the commune, things are less apparent because there would need to be a clearer sense of what the production is like. Are they any less exploited in the co-op though, I don't think so and I don't necessarily think the lack of it clearly going to the benefit of the specific capitalist undermines the concept.
And then I also wonder if what you're wanting is an abstract universal where you'll find something that you think contradicts Marx and say got you where his focus is on a particular case which may lead to explanatory power in other cases.
The idea being that Marx tries to find the essential concepts in their particularness which provides an avenue to explaining other things. This is a very metholdogically distinct approach from what is common to modern thinking because it tends to arbitrarily relate a universal concept that shares the feature of individual case, but Hegel shows that this is arbitrary and inadequate, it shows no logical necessity between the individual case and the concept leading to nominalism where people find such concepts unreal and only individual things 'real', even while our language reflects generalizations.
What you are describing is basically an insurance scheme, but one where you can't opt out (interestingly, it is often inefficient to allow for that e.g. in health insurance). That can also lead to situations where people get less value than what they are paying for.
Yeah, that seems to be what Unions and such did, it was insurance for workers.
Indeed, it can be better to simply make a service accessible rather than having to save up for the rainy day but of course, money is the permission to access things or not and if you can't risk not having money for somethings, people go to great length to try and stave off losing everything.
In what way is labor necessarily being compensated in full in the above scenario? For instance, what makes you believe that those who operate the compulsory insurance scheme above are getting compensated by getting the same value they generate? They could be compensated by far more and become an elite of its own, as it would happen in socialist regimes
Hard for me to keep track but I don't necessarily see the two so combined as one was an example of some communal thing in Ireland and the latter was someones proposal of how to disrupt the law of value in the first stage and the incompatibility being a product of not the same ideas or proposals.
And if you've seen my interaction with Chaitscu you'll see that I have some reservations about their summary and only raise to to bring it into focus if it is something which to pursue.
Also, continuing my earlier emphasis, Marx is not a Ricadian socialist who advocates that workers be compenstated in full for their labor, as much as he advocates a radical change in production itself so as not to be based on commodities. I say this simply to remind that the focal point isn't to advocate full compensation necessarily but to disrupt relations of capitalist production.
But to continue my speculation, it seems the idea for the indirectly social labor link is that people should be compensated on the individual basis of how productive they are in terms of labor time, rather than based on a social average.
What stands out to me is that such differences in pay can occur in the workplace although not tied to productivity, a push against the idea that Marx advocated an equality of wages no matter what ones work was.
But I have to admit that I haven't gone done this path that far myself to see what sort of ideas people are proposing and hold skepticism to some, I rather pursue when I can an understanding of Marx's critique of the political economy as a pre-requsuite to speculating his idea of how the law of value is overcome. But that link is none the less interesting in it's attempt to offer an answer. Disstaisfying I know, but I cannot bullshit past the limits of what I've not dabbled in at least. My strength has mostly been in Marx's methodology than political economy as I've pursued it more along with understanding Psychology with Lev Vygotsky.
But that also happens because it's more profitable to the community at large to do that rather than just live in autarchy.
I think one problem with Marxians in general is that you guys are using some very specific definitions for some terms such as "capital" or "profit", and end up ignoring some relevant dynamics as a result. For example, if you'll stick to Marx's definition of capital you quoted above, then how do you define the production of a service (which cannot be resold by definition) aimed at producing goods or other services? Or how do you call the decision by some to study a degree to earn more and is it really all that different from deciding to buy a machine to produce and sell stuff? I actually wonder if Marx would agree with those narrow readings of his theory if he were alive today.
If I remember the thread correctly, it's not simply just a matter of profit, but many are becoming more like your average worker, they're reaching productive limits for their population and many have to seek out work to help provide for their communities. So the idea of a self-sufficient community among the Amish is losing it's basis. And it is indeed profitable for those that are increasingly becoming similar to a capitalist or land owning class.
I wouldn't call wages profit.
I don't know why you think Marx's analysis doesn't apply to services and you seem to think only in terms fo tangible commodities because of the tendency to use industrial production examples but profit can be clearly made in services within the same framework of necessary labor vs surplus, being paid a wage but working more than the value needed to reproduce the worker's basic needs and so on.
My impression is that Marx's definitions only extend further beyond that of the political economists of his day based in critical analysis, that is posing the limitations of those thinkers. Which still holds relevance, except perhaps where there are changes like a focus on strata based in socioeconomic status as opposed to class. Or a the tendency to consider capital based on physical things instead of noting the social relations particular to capitalism, but this is a point of his critique in revealing it's historical temporarily against the idea that it's simply quantitative development from past production.
There is also the point to actually to consider what Marx's analysis of capital is about and the implications there of so as to avoid thinking it is a theory of everything under capitalism.
Which doesn't mean his work loses relevance but that a work has it's focus.http://crisiscritique.org/political11/Andrew%20Kliman.pdf
One must first understand to see whether something left out is a critical problem or if it simply isn't within he focus.
To which we bth must admit great ignorance and as such limits on what we can claim is possible or not.
Because while some think of Marx as an economist, I don't really see him in the same intent as economists analysising such dynamics, the very intent of his work is different, and it does seem that Many want to put his work on the level of modern economics with it's particular concerns, which might complement or contradict some things but may not always fit either.
But my own concern I raise with your conflating that someone investing in a degree to enhance their labor power/wages, is the same as investing in a machine to produce and sell stuff is that you assess them as individuals abstracted from social relations of capitalist production.
It ends up treating synonymous things which might have very different structural relations like whether someone is a worker or a small business owner or even a capitalist (as with the use of profit for both wages and profit a capitalist). You would rid essential relations under capitalism as ti present it as a neutral thing without any class content but I think under a dubious means of abstracting.
I don't think he's actually touched that point. I'd be interested to read him out on it.
For your original quote:
One may also wonder where does this objective value come from. It's not in exchange values, I suppose, but even use values don't seem to be stable or easily to objectively determine in practice. After all, can't scientific innovation affect the use value of a commodity, by allowing for new ways to use it (such as by discovering the commodity has newfound physical properties) or new alternatives to its use? What assumptions did Marx make about the stability of use values over time?
I would like to share a piece to emphasize how the ideality of value is objective, material, that is independent of individual consciousness but a product of social relations in the same way that a slave is only marked as a slave within certain relations.https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/ideal/ideal.htm
It is a fact that like the icon or the gold coin, any word (term or combination of terms) is primarily a “thing” that exists outside the consciousness of the individual, possesses perfectly real bodily properties and is sensuously perceived. According to the old classification accepted by everyone, including Kant, words clearly come under the category of the “material” with just as much justification as stones or flowers, bread or a bottle of wine, the guillotine or the printing press. Surely then, in contrast to these things, what we call the “ideal” is their subjective image in the head of the individual, in the individual consciousness.
But here we are immediately confronted with the trickiness of this distinction, which is fully provided for by the Hegelian school and its conception of the “materialisation”, the “alienation”, the “reification” of universal notions. As a result of this process which takes place “behind the back of the individual consciousness”, the individual is confronted in the form of an “external thing” with people’s general (i.e., collectively acknowledged) representation, which has absolutely nothing in common with the sensuously perceived bodily form in which it is “represented”.
For example, the name “Peter” is in its sensuously perceived bodily form absolutely unlike the real Peter, the person it designates, or the sensuously represented image of Peter which other people have of him. The relationship is the same between the gold coin and the goods that can be bought with it, goods (commodities), whose universal representative is the coin or (later) the banknote. The coin represents not itself but “another” in the very sense in which a diplomat represents not his own person but his country, which has authorised him to do so. The same may be said of the word, the verbal symbol or sign, or any combination of such signs and the syntactical pattern of this combination.
This relationship of representation is a relationship in which one sensuously perceived thing performs the role or function of representative of quite another thing, and, to be even more precise, the universal nature of that other thing, that is, something “other” which in sensuous, bodily terms is quite unlike it, and it was this relationship that in the Hegelian terminological tradition acquired the title of “ideality”.
In Capital Marx quite consciously uses the term “ideal” in this formal meaning that it was given by Hegel, and not in the sense in which it was used by the whole pre-Hegelian tradition, including Kant, although the philosophical-theoretical interpretation of the range of phenomena which in both cases is similarly designated “ideal” is diametrically opposed to its Hegelian interpretation. The meaning of the term “ideal” in Marx and Hegel is the same, but the concepts, i.e., the ways of understanding this “same” meaning are profoundly different. After all, the word “concept” in dialectically interpreted logic is a synonym for understanding of the essence of the matter, the essence of phenomena which are only outlined by a given term; it is by no means a synonym for “the meaning of the term”, which may be formally interpreted as the sum-total of “attributes” of the phenomena to which the term is applied.
It was for this reason that Marx, like any genuine theoretician, preferred not to change the historically formed “meanings of terms”, the established nomenclature of phenomena, but, while making strict and rigorous use of it, proposed a quite different understanding of these phenomena that was actually the opposite of the traditional understanding.
In Capital, when analysing money – that familiar and yet mysterious category of social phenomena – Marx describes as “ideal” nothing more or less than the value-form of the products of labour in general (die Wertform überhaupt).
So the reader for whom the term “ideal” is a synonym for the “immanent in the consciousness”, “existing only in the consciousness”, “only in people’s ideas”, only in their “imagination” will misunderstand the idea expressed by Marx because in this case it turns out that even Capital – which is nothing else but a value-form of the organisation of the productive forces, a form of the functioning of the means of production – also exists only in the consciousness, only in people’s subjective imagination, and “not in reality”.
Obviously only a follower of Berkeley could take the point in this way, and certainly not a materialist.
According to Marx, the ideality of the form of value consists not, of course, in the fact that this form represents a mental phenomenon existing only in the brain of the commodity-owner or theoretician, but in the fact that the corporeal palpable form of the thing (for example, a coat) is only a form of expression of quite a different “thing” (linen, as a value) with which it has nothing in common. The value of the linen is represented, expressed, “embodied” in the form of a coat, and the form of the coat is the “ideal or represented form” of the value of the linen.
“As a use-value, the linen is something palpably different from the coat; as value, it is the same as the coat, and now has the appearance of a coat. Thus the linen acquires a value-form different from its physical form. The fact that it is value, is made manifest by its equality with the coat, just as the sheep’s nature of a Christian is shown in his resemblance to the Lamb of God.” [Capital, Vol. I, p. 58.]
This is a completely objective relationship, within which the “bodily form of commodity B becomes the value-form of commodity A, or the body of commodity B acts as a mirror to the value of commodity A”, [Capital, Vol. I, p. 59.] the authorised representative of its “value” nature, of the “substance” which is “embodied” both here and there.
This is why the form of value or value-form is ideal, that is to say, it is something quite different from the palpable form of the thing in which it is represented, expressed, “embodied”, “alienated”.
What is this “other”, this difference, which is expressed or represented here? People’s consciousness? Their will? By no means. On the contrary, both will and consciousness are determined by this objective ideal form, and the thing that it expresses, “represents” is a definite social relationship between people which in their eyes assumes the fantastic form of a relationship between things.
In other words, what is “represented” here as a thing is the form of people’s activity, the form of life activity which they perform together, which has taken shape “behind the back of consciousness” and is materially established in the form of the relationship between things described above.
This and only this creates the ideality of such a “thing”, its sensuous-supersensuous character.
Here ideal form actually does stand in opposition to individual consciousness and individual will as the form of the external thing (remember Kant’s talers) and is necessarily perceived precisely as the form of the external thing, not its palpable form, but as the form of another equally palpable thing that it represents, expresses, embodies, differing, however, from the palpable corporeality of both things and having nothing in common with their sensuously perceptible physical nature. What is embodied and “represented” here is a definite form of labour, a definite form of human objective activity, that is to say, the transformation of nature by social man.
It is here that we find the answer to the riddle of “ideality”. Ideality, according to Marx, is nothing else but the form of social human activity represented in the thing. Or, conversely, the form of human activity represented as a thing, as an object.
“Ideality” is a kind of stamp impressed on the substance of nature by social human life activity, a form of the functioning of the physical thing in the process of this activity. So all the things involved in the social process acquire a new “form of existence” that is not included in their physical nature and differs from it completely – their ideal form.
So, there can be no talk of “ideality” where there are no people socially producing and reproducing their material life, that is to say, individuals working collectively and, therefore, necessarily possessing consciousness and will. But this does not mean that the “ideality of things” is a product of their conscious will, that it is “immanent in the consciousness” and exists only in the consciousness. Quite the reverse, the individual’s consciousness and will are functions of the ideality of things, their comprehended, conscious ideality.
Ideality, thus, has a purely social nature and origin. It is the form of a thing, but it is outside this thing, and in the activity of man, as a form of this activity. Or conversely, it is the form of a person’s activity but outside this person, as a form of the thing. Here, then, is the key to the whole mystery that has provided a real basis for all kinds of idealistic constructions and conceptions both of man and of a world beyond man, from Plato to Carnap and Popper. “Ideality” constantly escapes, slips away from the metaphysically single-valued theoretical fixation. As soon as it is fixed as the “form of the thing” it begins to tease the theoretician with its “immateriality”, its “functional” character and appears only as a form of “pure activity”. On the other hand, as soon as one attempts to fix it “as such”, as purified of all the traces of palpable corporeality, it turns out that this attempt is fundamentally doomed to failure, that after such a purification there will be nothing but phantasmal emptiness, an indefinable vacuum.
And indeed, as Hegel understood so well, it is absurd to speak of “activity” that is not realised in anything definite, is not “embodied” in something corporeal, if only in words, speech, language. If such “activity” exists, it cannot be in reality but only in possibility, only potentially, and, therefore, not as activity but as its opposite, as inactivity, as the absence of activity.
It helps think about the objectivity a great deal because often things are treated as synonymous with concepts in ones head opposed to the empirical world around us with no mediation, stuck at best at the level of kant with a prior concepts inherited rather than developed through activity and learned with each new generations acculturation.
But what you're getting at is the concept of value, which is neither synonymous with use-value, or exchange value but is seen as a concept which underpins them as existing together in a commodity.
This is a contentious area as Marxs sense of value is not well understood despite how easily people like our selves talk about socially necessary labor and such.
But a start for why Marx considers value to be derived from labor, this might be a good introduction: https://kapitalism101.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/on-labor-as-the-substance-of-value/
But things aren't really straight forward to me around the exact relationship between labor and value.https://www.marxists.org/archive/rubin/value/ch12.htm
One may say that a large number of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations which can be found in anti-Marxist literature are based on the false impression that, according to Marx, labor is value. This false impression often grows out of the inability to grasp the terminology and meaning of Marx's work. For example, Marx's well-known statement that value is "congealed" or "crystallized" labor is usually interpreted to mean that labor is value. This erroneous impression is also created by the double meaning of the Russian verb "represent" (predstavlyat'). Value "represents" labor - this is how we translate the German verb "darstellen." But this Russian sentence can be understood, not only in the sense that value is a representation, or expression, of labor - the only sense which is consistent with Marx's theory - but also in the sense that value is labor. Such an impression, which is the most widespread in critical literaturedirected against Marx, is of course completely false. Labor cannot be identified with value. Labor is only the substance of value, and in order to obtain value in the full sense of the word, labor as the substance of value must be treated in its inseparable connection with the social "value form" (Wertform).
There is some sort of debate around the relation between labor, abstract labor and value.
I hope to look into it sometime or at least glance at some summaries.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_value-form
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