oil/ltv/zizek

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Khawaga
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May 17 2010 17:06
wrote:
Marx wrote:
The use values, coat, linen, &c., i.e., the bodies of commodities, are combinations of two elements – matter and labour. If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a material substratum is always left, which is furnished by Nature without the help of man. The latter can work only as Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter. Nay more, in this work of changing the form he is constantly helped by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the only source of material wealth, of use values produced by labour.

Marx is here saying that nature is a source of wealth and not that nature produces wealth. Jura is right to point out that production is a human-specific phenomenon. What Marx says in that paragraph is that nature provides the raw material, which is not in the form of dead labour, with which labour can transform into commodities.

I think that this passage from Vol. 1 is key to understanding the distinction:

Marx wrote:
Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate Nature’s productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes his own nature. He develops his slumbering powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. We are not now dealing with those primitive instinctive forms of labour that remind us of the mere animal. An immeasurable interval of time separates the state of things in which a man brings his labour-power to market for sale as a commodity, from that state in which human labour was still in its first instinctive stage. We pre-suppose labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement. He not only effects a change of form in the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman’s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose.

The distinction is that labour/production is something driven by a purpose/idea that is prior to the product. Marx makes similar arguments in the Preface when he discusses the dialectic of production and consumption.

edit: didn't see oisleep's comment before I posted

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May 17 2010 17:33

Khawaga, thanks, that was what I meant – that (concrete) labor is an intentional activity which distinguishes Man from animals ("nature").

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May 17 2010 21:45
oisleep wrote:
yes, and the social labour that is expended as a result of that intervention constitutes and determines their value - leaving no value which is produced by anything other than labour, i.e. nature doesn't produce value, it can't, it isn't.

right well that's the point then isn't it, nature may produce use values but only human action can produce commodities. i'm familiar with the definition of value, i was getting at why natural use values sold as commodities are treated differently. the answer is they aren't - it is labour (picking, mining...) that makes them into commodities.

a different point revol raised on the other thread:

revol68 wrote:
I think the issue isn't so much that but rather the notion of being able to measure in any meaningful sense the socially necessary labour time in any given commodity, or being able to say this or that specific thing or service produces value and this doesn't, or this or that has a value and something else only has a price.

I remember you arguing that teachers and nurses don't produce value and I think that is nonsense

'value' isn't a moral term. if education and healthcare are not commodities, they aren't activities which produce value, since the labour expended on producing their use value is not realised in the act of exchange. why do you think capital's so keen to privatise and/or introduce internal markets into these industries where they've been socialised?

yes there's use value in health care and education, that doesn't mean they're productive for capital. if anything they're classic examples of overhead costs at a societal level. i don't think technical difficulties in measuring the labour involved in producing commodities is relevant; 'socially necessary abstract labour' is a pretty abstract conceptual category, actually measuring it for a relatively simple commodity even in Marx's day would have been a daunting task since you'd need to average labour everywhere it was produced under constantly evolving conditions. this difficulty has little to do with the levels of knowledge in society as Negri et al claim, but simply the fact Marx wasn't a positivist seeking to measure value but a communist seeking to expose its social relations.

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May 17 2010 21:56
revol68 wrote:
I think the issue isn't so much that but rather the notion of being able to measure in any meaningful sense the socially necessary labour time in any given commodity,

Value as socially necessary labor time could never be measured. You can measure concrete labor with a stopwatch, but not abstract social labor. This equally applies to 19th century capitalism and any post-fordist utopia a philosopher can dream of. Similarly, there have always been "mixtures" of productive and unproductive labor (i.e. someone's labor is both productive and unproductive because there are different aspects and activities to it).

The point of these categories is not to determine "This worker produces this much value", "This commodity's value is X, as opposed to its' price Y" or "This worker's labor is productive, therefore ...", but to understand how capitalist economy works. It seems to me that most of the theories (of the social factory, of the value-productivity of housework etc.) that consider Marx's theory of value "outdated" fail to understand this.

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May 17 2010 23:05
revol68 wrote:
education and healthcare are vital in capitals circuits of valorisation, as important as railways, airports etc

So is biological reproduction. This does not make it productive of value (or surplus-value, for that matter) though.

revol68 wrote:
Are we going to start making distinctions between the worker on the production line and the worker who only maintains it, does one produce value and the other not?

Well, we better had such distinctions. They help explain where profits come from, how surplus-value is redistributed etc. – how the reproduction of the system works.

revol68 wrote:
Are we going to say that according to the LTV the assembly worker is exploited but the office cleaner isn't?

Depends – but not on the character of their concrete labor, but on the social relations it is embedded in.

Marx in Theories of Surplus-Value wrote:
This also establishes absolutely what unproductive labour is. It is labour which is not exchanged with capital, but directly with revenue, that is, with wages or profit (including of course the various categories of those who share as co-partners in the capitalist’s profit, such as interest and rent). Where all labour in part still pays itself (like for example the agricultural labour of the serfs) and in part is directly exchanged for revenue (like the manufacturing labour in the cities of Asia), no capital and no wage-labour exists in the sense of bourgeois political economy. These definitions are therefore not derived from the material characteristics of labour (neither from the nature of its product nor from the particular character of the labour as concrete labour), but from the definite social form, the social relations of production, within which the labour is realised. An actor, for example, or even a clown, according to this definition, is a productive labourer if he works in the service of a capitalist (an entrepreneur) to whom he returns more labour than he receives from him in the form of wages; while a jobbing tailor who comes to the capitalist’s house and patches his trousers for him, producing a mere use-value for him, is an unproductive labourer. The former’s labour is exchanged with capital, the latter’s with revenue. The former’s labour produces a surplus-value; in the latter’s, revenue is consumed.
revol68 wrote:
So either we accept that millions of workers aren't actually exploited in the Marxist sense but maybe in some more moralistic manner or we understand the production of value as a generalised totalised matrix of production, in which doctors, nurses, teachers, even DIY subcultures are all part of a singular process of exploitation.

Marx's theory of exploitation (and the whole theory of value) accounts for a specific aspect of capitalist reproduction. There are, of course, other aspects to it (biological reproduction and "biopolitics", political and ideological processes, etc.) – and we need other theories to explain them. Theories that would preferably be compatible with a working theory of economic reproduction (Marx's theory of value). My problem with most attempts at theorizing housework, teaching and studying etc. is that they conflate these issues by saying that all labor is productive for capital, which leads to serious contradictions. I mean, expecting Marx's theory of value to explain all social processes occuring in capitalism is like expecting thermodynamics to explain evolution. One of the reasons that marxism remains an "open" theory is that Marx left many of the aspects of capitalist social reproduction almost untouched – including those he planned to work on (remember that the chapter on classes in Vol. III ends abruptly, thus leaving us with no complete theory of class that would link class to the other categories of Capital. The same applies to stuff like the state or international trade).

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May 17 2010 22:32
revol68 wrote:
I don't think Marx's theory of value is outdated, I think that attempts to apply in such a manner that says things like,

"education and health don't produce value"

is bullshit.

Such statement really is bullshit. It all depends on the social circumstances: if a nurses or teachers labor is confronted with capital, it is productive in Marx's sense:

Marx in Theories of Surplus-Value wrote:
A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.

The use-value of the commodity in which the labour of a productive worker is embodied may be of the most futile kind. The material characteristics are in no way linked with its nature which on the contrary is only the expression of a definite social relation of production. It is a definition of labour which is derived not from its content or its result, but from its particular social form.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1863/theories-surplus-value/ch04.htm (I think the whole chapter explains the issue well.)

revol68 wrote:
the teachers that provide education that produce new ideas and technology are just as vital to the generalised production of value

Only insofar they "enrich their schoolmaster", so to say. That they produce new ideas and technology is wholly unimportant (as long as they are use values, "coming from to the stomach or the fancy"). Of course, things like ideological indoctrination and discplining in school are of course very important to capitalist reproduction, but Marx's theory of value simply can't account for them (the theory is about something else).

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May 17 2010 22:32
revol68 wrote:
Exploitation of labour is general, it is not reducible to some specific site where value is produced (...) So either we accept that millions of workers aren't actually exploited in the Marxist sense but maybe in some more moralistic manner or we understand the production of value as a generalised totalised matrix of production, in which doctors, nurses, teachers, even DIY subcultures are all part of a singular process of exploitation.

false dichotomy. the law of value means work, whether productive or not is structured in much the same way. capitalists who profit by capturing value produced elsewhere (such as financiers) are compelled to treat their workers much the same as Moneybags in his factory. we are proletarian because we are dispossessed, not because we produce.

Your argument would be like approaching accounting by saying 'direct costs? overhead costs? They're all COSTS'. the distinctions are important, labelling everything "vital in capitals circuits of valorisation" as productive of value in itself is a similar problem. credit is absolutely necessary to the modern capitalist economy. that doesn't mean credit can produce value... as recent events are a rather clear example of.

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May 17 2010 22:58
revol68 wrote:
So either we accept that millions of workers aren't actually exploited in the Marxist sense

And anyway, what's the problem with this? Not being exploited in Marx's sense does not make you well off... quite the contrary: many unproductive workers (and not just in the "Third World") live way below the standards of productive workers. Not being exploited (not being a producer of surplus-value for capital) does not make life in capitalism any more livable, it does not exempt you from capitalist attacks on living standards, from the humiliating division of labor, from crises or wars. Exploitation is a "structural" thing: the theory helps explain where the "core" of economic reproduction of capitalism is. It also has nothing to do with prospects for a revolutionary consciousness – as in, the productive workers are the "real" proletarians capable of making the revolution, while the rest are lumpen or whatnot.

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May 17 2010 23:03

From 'first as tragedy then as farce': Zizek's full argument on Negri and rent

Hope this is connects to the OP which mentioned rent.

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May 17 2010 23:10

revol, i didn't duck the point at all.

my last job was in financial services. the company didn't produce anything, it made money by financing already existing commodities and thus appropriating some of the surplus value contained in them. in order to do so they needed employees, and they needed to force us to work unpaid overtime etc like in any other capitalist workplace.

that doesn't mean i was producing value when i was clicking buttons on a software program (although i could have been if the result of that activity was a commodity sold on the market)... in the 'social factory' i was effectively a clerk. from my bosses' point of view, the workers there were productive since it was our activity which generated their profits. but from the level of societal surplus value all the firm did was capture some value produced elsewhere (essentially the company bought assets and leased them - and no value is produced in the realm of exchange - at least according to Marx).

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May 17 2010 23:30

in fact revol, on the whole productive/unproductive thing Marx goes into it at length in various places (including Capital), such as here:

Marx wrote:
A schoolmaster who educates others is not a productive worker. But a schoolmaster who is engaged as a wage labourer in an institution along with others, in order through his labour to valorise the money of the entrepreneur of the knowledge-mongering institution, is a productive worker.

so it's all dependent on whether a commodity is being produced, which is sold, realising the surplus value contained in it, valorising the owners capital. in the case of socialised healthcare and education, no commodity is produced. same for most financial services - they operate purely in the sphere of circulation, buying and selling commodities (whether assets to lease, mortgage derivatives or whatever). thus from the point of view of total social surplus value they don't produce any, merely secure a share of it, and their workers only 'valorise' capital at the level of the firm, but add nothing to total surplus value production.

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May 17 2010 23:37
Joseph Kay wrote:
in fact revol, on the whole productive/unproductive thing Marx goes into it at length in various places (including Capital), such as here

this is also a good section on this topic, from 'theories of surplus value'

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May 17 2010 23:44
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
so it's all dependent on whether a commodity is being produced, which is sold, realising the surplus value contained in it, valorising the owners capital. in the case of socialised healthcare and education, no commodity is produced.

Would you say a degree isn't a commodity? You can buy them all over the internet.

a degree may or may not be a commodity depending on the circumstances (i.e. whether it is sold on the market). the productive/unproductive distinction has nothing to do with the labour or the product itself. this is where Negri et al lapse into fetishism wanking on about 'producing affects' and so on. productive labour is that which produces surplus value. many firms only operate in the sphere of circulation and thus produce no value at all (even though their employees are wage laborers). other firms produce completely immaterial commodities (such as education), but the labour involved is productive if it produces a commodity which is sold allowing the firm to realise the surplus value created during its production.

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May 17 2010 23:55
revol68 wrote:
Also since private schools sell their whole institution as a commodity, surely the work of the cleaners, the janitors and grounds keepers is productive in terms of creating value?

The cleaners, janitors and grounds keepers are unproductive relative to the educational institution, regardless if they are directly hired or subcontracted. Improving the 'quality' of the 'whole institution as a commodity' does not make them productive laborers, since they are not producing surplus value for the university. However, if they are subcontracted out, they are productive relative to the agency that employs them.

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May 18 2010 00:03
revol68 wrote:
teachers and doctors do produce commodities, this is made explicitly obvious when it comes to private hospitals and schools, but the interesting question is in the context of state schools etc

"teachers and doctors do produce commodities" is sometimes true, sometimes not true. i explicitly quoted the bit about 'a schoolmaster' to make this point. sometimes education is a commodity exchanged on the market, othertimes it's socialised, a cost borne by capital in general in its own general interest (but not producing surplus value in itself). which helps explain the attempts to introduce an internal market in the NHS, privatise health and education etc, as well as slashing public services in response to the crisis. a state school does not produce commodities. no money changes hands in return for 'education', it's paid for by the state i.e. capital in general in the interests of capital in general. now private capital would love to get its hands on such a large potential market, and indeed is doing so through PFI etc. these dynamics can't be understood by collapsing it all into 'productive.'

revol68 wrote:
Also since private schools sell their whole institution as a commodity, surely the work of the cleaners, the janitors and grounds keepers is productive in terms of creating value?

it depends what's being bought. with private schools yes you could make the argument that the cleanliness of the buildings are as much a part of the commodity sold as the education (since posh parents aren't going to send little tarquin II to a filthy run-down building to study latin), thus janitors would also be producing that commodity. the question is does the labour directly produce a commodity? lots of labour doesn't, in fact whole sectors don't.

the exact same labour done by the exact same workers could become productive if say, NHS cleaners were outsourced - meaning that previous overhead costs within the institution become the purchase of a commodity (cleaning services), the sale of which realises the surplus value created by the work of the cleaners. previously, working the same hours for the same pay nobody was getting their capital valorised. hence this is quite a useful distinction for understanding the real things going on in the public sector, particularly the craze for outsourcing (which has other drivers too, of course).

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May 18 2010 00:34
revol68 wrote:
how are they any less producing value than the teachers at the institution, if the institutions commodity is as much about it's appearance, image, and prestige as it is actual teaching?

i'll admit that this is a good point. while I feel that it may be a stretch, i have to say that you and joseph kay brought up substantive reasons why they may be productive, especially with regards to a 'prestigious' private institution which has a significant moral component. i will have to think about this more.

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May 18 2010 04:45

Both the private school and the outsourced NHS cleaners are good examples I think. Another example would be people who work as domestic servants - if you live in a mansion with staff, those workers are not being exploited by capital as such - they're directly providing services to their employer out of revenue.

Another example is childcare - if looking after your own kids is as productive of value as any paid job, why has there been a huge expansion of paid childcare services in the past 20-30 years?

Registration of child minders, expansion of pre-school and nurseries, child tax credits etc. etc. are all designed to do two things - ensure that parents are working rather than staying at home, and turn child care itself into a commodity. To simplify it a bit too much, it's the difference between one person staying at home looking after their own kids, and that person going out to work, then another person employed to look after their kids - so two waged workers where previously there were none. Saying that these activities are completely equivalent in terms of capital then doesn't give you a way to explain those trends.

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May 18 2010 11:54

Wasn't sure whether to post this here or on the "transcendental materialism thread"...

...but since the issue of Zizek's understanding of Marx's _Capital_ came up, I should mention I thought his elaboration in the first chapter of _Sublime Object of Ideology_ is actually quite excellent. Yeah, there's the usual show-off Zizek tendency to translate it back into psychoanalytic terminology, but on the fundamentals, he's quite solid.

I know dick about Lacan, but Zizek's reading of value theory leaves nothing to be desired; at least on that front nobody can accuse him of charlatanry.

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May 18 2010 12:08
revol68 wrote:
But my point is either we expand the LTV to include the exploitation of whole swathes of the proletariat who you reckon don't produce value

This is extremely dodgy. We modify value theory because of political expediency?

Marx's critique of capital does not rest upon a moral critique of "exploitation"; he's not Proudhon. He does not pretend to be revealing some hidden act of "theft".

Marx regards capital as harming the health and well-being of the worker in the long term. Exploitation is a central component in the dynamic of capital, but not necessarily the main reason to get rid of it.

Presumably in a communist society we would also produce in excess of that required to reproduce our own labor-power. In fact, isn't that kind of a precondition of communism?

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May 18 2010 13:47
oisleep wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
as an aside, that is pretty fucking retarded. and factually incorrect on at least two counts (Marx said nature was a source of value, and nation-states were not the agents of exploitation but individuals/classes on either side of the property relation).

i agree it's a retarded thing to say - but did you actually mean to say the bit in bold?

in summary then, no. i should have said use value. however it was useful working through why natural use values don't have value; i.e. they're not commodities until acted upon by labour, appropriating them in some way (even if only picking wild fruit).

as to the OP, yes i think rent is probably the framework to look at natural resources in. the reason i mentioned the various factors assumed away at the start of Capital (and later added back in) was that they could help account for the profitability of oil, or rather the upwards divergence of its price from its value. ordinarily such profits would attract capital from other sectors until the profits were spread accross the industry roughly in line with the socially necessary labour time required by production. with oil that can't happen for numerous reasons (a similar effect would seem to apply to industries based on intellectual property, i.e. Microsoft, pharmaceuticals etc... generics tend to the value, but the IP-protected stuff creams off excess profits).

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May 18 2010 15:57

....not had time to look at this today yet so catching up with it now, apologies if it screws up the flow of the discussion

Quote:
right well that's the point then isn't it, nature may produce use values but only human action can produce commodities.

well still not quite correct, your honour/conscience whatever can be sold for a price and this in appearance form seems like it is exactly the same as a commodity, the one difference is that it has no value, but it does have a price - so at the surface level it appears like a commodity, but it's not - so yes you are right in that sense

Quote:
i'm familiar with the definition of value, i was getting at why natural use values sold as commodities are treated differently. the answer is they aren't - it is labour (picking, mining...) that makes them into commodities.

well from a value perspective they are treated differently as they have no value, only a price - and as i keep saying, price is not always nothing but an expression of value - it can exist when value doesn't

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May 18 2010 15:45
Noa Rodman wrote:
From 'first as tragedy then as farce': Zizek's full argument on Negri and rent

Hope this is connects to the OP which mentioned rent.

finally a post that attempts to actually connect with the actual purpose of the thread!

not got time to look at that just now but will do later, i suspect i won't agree with it though

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May 18 2010 15:56
Joseph Kay wrote:
oisleep wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
as an aside, that is pretty fucking retarded. and factually incorrect on at least two counts (Marx said nature was a source of value, and nation-states were not the agents of exploitation but individuals/classes on either side of the property relation).

i agree it's a retarded thing to say - but did you actually mean to say the bit in bold?

in summary then, no. i should have said use value.

hurrah!! finally!!

Quote:
however it was useful working through why natural use values don't have value; i.e. they're not commodities until acted upon by labour, appropriating them in some way (even if only picking wild fruit).

yep i agree (although those natural use values can still command a price, in the market and appear like a commodity on the surface, even though they have no value/labour contained within them)

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May 18 2010 16:31
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as to the OP, yes i think rent is probably the framework to look at natural resources in. the reason i mentioned the various factors assumed away at the start of Capital (and later added back in) was that they could help account for the profitability of oil, or rather the upwards divergence of its price from its value

yes, that was the original intention of the thread - to apply the same approach to oil that marx did to capitalist agriculture in the 19th century - there are lots of similarities so it seems to fit the framework

as to the 'upwards divergence of price from value' in these cases, it's not quite this that allows for surplus profit/rent to exist - most of marx's attention on rent was on looking at differential & absolute rent - both of these are situations where even though a surplus profit is made over and above the 'normal' (i.e average profit rate) profit, which in turn is appropriated by owners of the land from the capitalist (who obviosuly in turn appropriated it from labour) - this is not a result of the commodity selling above it's value (or more correctly above its price of production which is the intrinsic value/price) - but a case of the product selling at its value, but because of productivity differentials either between different lands (producing differential rent) or between agriculture and industry (producing absolute rent), this means particular producers can produce at below that value level and thuse make an additional profit - one which because of the various barriers and lack of efficient competition is not equalised out through competition as it would do in other sectors, but instead remains within that sector and is siphoned off as rent (as opposed to going into societal profit averaging)

Meaning overall, the product is still sold at its value/price of production, labour still receives the value of its labour power, capital still makes the average (societal) profit, and landowner receives a rent for doing nothing (even less 'work' than the capitalist) - this rent can then be captalised to give the land a value/price - and all of this can happens without contravening the basic labour theory of value - i.e. all distribution, profit, rent, wages is out of produced value and everything is paid at its value/price of production (obviously in reality prices will deviate from values for all kind of other reasons in the market, but assuming, as it is always assumed in capital that things exchange at their value/price of production, then his analysis/exposition of rent doesn't contravene value theory)

the key thing that allows all this to happen is the assertion that in agriculture (and by implication all other industries that display the same characteristics, i.e. monopoly like control over non-reproducible productive assets) - the value of the product is not the social average, but the value of the product produced on soil of the worst fertility - this higher base point for value, allows that surplus profit to be made and then captured as rent. It may seem like a contravention of the general value theory, but there are valid reasons for assuming that this is the case (lack of competition doesn't allow the same averaging/levelling effect etc.. plus the fact that if there is a social demand for food, the produce from the worst soil must be able to be sold for at least the average profit otherwise capital wouldn't be attracted to it, so it's a socially necessary requirement that this happens)

another thing about rent theory is that it's useful to look at it in two parts - one that certain industries exist where it is possible, without violating law of value, for surplus profits (i.e. over and above average profit rate) to be made on a permanent basis that are not then erroded away through capital competition, this is then the basis for rent, i.e. the production of additional value, however rent itself is just a form that value takes in distribution, so landed property allows then that additional surplus profit to be captured by land owner (and not as sucked back into the general societal averaging through competition). In modern times the second part, i.e. the distribution in rent is less visible because ownership relations have changed a bit to the extent that the line between capitailst and monopoly ownership of non-reproducible assets is not quite as distinct as it once was - however the first part of the analysis is what is important, i.e. situations where surplus profit can be made.

marx also talked about a fourth type of rent (as differential rent comes in two distinct flavours, in terms of analysis anyway) - which he calls rather confusingly monopoly rent, this is purely when someone can extract a rent from capital where it is not sourced out of additional value/surplus profit production - instead it results in either a reduction in capitalists profit (i.e. below the average rate) or labour power being paid below its value - so effectively this rent is a market phenomonen, i.e. it is not produced and distributed out of value as such, but instead relies on a contravention of value (in either profit or labour) for it to exist - he wasn't much interested in this kind of rent, as the usual assumptions of everything exchanging at its value/price of production overrule a discussion of that type in that areas. It would have came if marx had completed his overall project which was to produce something like 6 overall books, of which the 3 volumes of capital and theories of surplus value constituted just one of those 6 books.

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May 18 2010 21:42

Angelus novus; In 'the sublime object of ideology' Zizek discusses commodity fetishism (not LTV as you wrote) to elaborate Lacan's "point" about Marx being the inventor of the symptom.

Revol68 also believes Zizek has a good grasp of commodity fetishism. What I meant to say on the other thread is that Zizek doesn't understand the theory of value because he thinks oil rent contradicts it, which oisleep showed it does not.

Furthermore Zizek does not merely argue for a different application of LTV as Revol68 would like to portray it, because as Zizek says in this part of the interview which revol68 ignored:

zizek wrote:
Concretely, this means I see immense problems for example, with all the sympathies for Marx’s Capital, but it’s clear that if you want to explain what today is going on with Marx’s theory of exploitation, what goes on today with poverty and so on, you can no longer account for it in the Marxist terms of exploitation.

Here it's clear that Zizek rejects the LTV. Keeping in mind all possible contextual nuances in other articles Zizek has never advocated the LTV and always professed his skepticism towards it. It's clear he adopts the whole thing about social factory/immaterial labour/commons. In his 'first as tragedy' Zizek relies on a certain economist named Vercellone, who argues that after industrial/fordist capitalism we now live in a new mode of production which he terms cognitive capitalism. Vercellone's point, just from quickly going over one of his articles, is that profit is more and more becoming rent.

To which I'd respond by reminding Zizekians the words of their own master:

zizek in the sublime object wrote:
Likewise, in social theory, there are good reasons to claim that all the 'new paradigm' proposals about the nature of the contemporary world (that we are entering a post-industrial society, a postmodern
s ociety, a risk society, an informational society . . . ) remain so many
Ptolemizations of the 'old paradigm' of classic sociological models.
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Joseph Kay
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May 18 2010 23:45
revol68 wrote:
So the teacher who teaches the next generation of labour creates value when the skills, discipline and knowledge get goes on to be exploited in the production of direct commodities

the problem with this is that lots of activities, in fact arguably every activity, is ultimately part of social reproduction and thus value production. if workers don't sleep, they won't produce value. that doesn't mean sleep produces value!

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May 19 2010 08:34
Joseph Kay wrote:
the problem with this is that lots of activities, in fact arguably every activity, is ultimately part of social reproduction and thus value production. if workers don't sleep, they won't produce value. that doesn't mean sleep produces value!

Agreed.

I think this is another example of taking something that Marx regards as definitional, and trying to turn it into an argument.

So Operaists and some Feminists accuse Marx of "neglecting" or "overlooking" certain types of energy expenditure in his value theory, when in fact value theory is intended to describe only wage labor.

This is similar to neoclassical economists who demand that Marx "prove" that labor is "behind" value, when in fact for Marx value is defined as socially necessary abstract labor.

Note that this is not to say that things like racism, oppression of women, nationalism, etc. are "secondary contradictions" that are somehow less important than the capital-labor relation. It's just that those are social relationships that need a different theoretical toolbox than value theory.

Martin Glaberman used the term "independent validity of social struggles" to try to wean people away from the temptation to try to subsume everything to the dynamic of value. People wrongheadedly regard "proletarians" are the good guys in some comic book, so they tend to redefine every struggle worth supporting as a "proletarian" one, otherwise it somehow loses validity. Hence the need to prove that housewives produce "value", etc.

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May 19 2010 10:07
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the problem with this is that lots of activities, in fact arguably every activity, is ultimately part of social reproduction and thus value production. if workers don't sleep, they won't produce value. that doesn't mean sleep produces value!

it's the type of thinking that by extension would lead one to posit that nature creates value wink

I have sympathy with revol's point however, and would argue to an extent at the social basis, health/education play a huge role in the direction production of the ultimate commodity, labour- power, not got time to respond to it now though, however i always find the whole argument over whether that person/job is productive of value or not pretty pointless, value is a social thing and has to be looked at at that level, concrete labour of any type doesn't produce value - also looking at things at such a low level doesn't give the correct view, does a worker in iron ore mining produce value?, does a worker who transforms that output into steel in that industry produce value? - in this example if the ultimate useage of the end output is into say military expenditure, it's not productive of value (if we ignore by products of it like research/development and military keynesian) - so looking at things devoid of it's overall social context in terms of social reproduction doesn't really give the best frame of analysis, just because something is 'profitable' at the individual level doesn't mean it's productive of value at the social level

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May 19 2010 10:59
oisleep wrote:
in this example if the ultimate useage of the end output is into say military expenditure, it's not productive of value (if we ignore by products of it like research/development and military keynesian)

one small question, which I defer to you, since I have always been struck by the breadth and rigor of your understanding of capital. i apologize if this is off topic.

as far as I had understood it, military expenditure was not productive of value, but could have anti-cyclical effects. however, in 'frontiers of political economy', guglielmo carchedi argues that while military expenditure (specifically weapons) is not reproductive, since it is not a component of further production either in department I or II, it is productive of value in the same way that the luxury production is, since the labor employed creates new value by transforming existing use values into new use values under capitalist production. he also argues that weapons do have a use value - the ability to destroy other use values. however, military expenditure is contradictory because while it may in fact realize value it is not reproductive and threatens the social reproduction. this is more or less verbatim from his text; if you are interested, I could send you the excerpts. anyway, what do you think of this argument regarding military expenditures capability to produce value?

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May 19 2010 14:43
Quote:
one small question, which I defer to you, since I have always been struck by the breadth and rigor of your understanding of capital. i apologize if this is off topic.

a very kind thing to say, thank you

Quote:
as far as I had understood it, military expenditure was not productive of value, but could have anti-cyclical effects. however, in 'frontiers of political economy', guglielmo carchedi argues that while military expenditure (specifically weapons) is not reproductive, since it is not a component of further production either in department I or II, it is productive of value in the same way that the luxury production is, since the labor employed creates new value by transforming existing use values into new use values under capitalist production.

it is tricky isn't it, and I can't even pretend to have a convincing answer - could argue however that drawing a parallel between luxury good production and military expenditure isn't quite the correct thing to do, because unlike military production (which as you say isn't a component of further production in either deptartment I or II, and therefore isn't reproductive in terms of societal capital, and is therefore seen as a deduction out of total surplus value produced at the social level, due to its material form not being directly reprodutive) - luxury good production is in a more peculiar and less clear situation where todays' luxury good production can be tomorrow's 'necessities' of life and therefore part of the bundle of commodities that labour power requires to re-produce itself at a given level at a given time etc..etc..and therefore critical in the reproduction of the total social capital/social product (and even before it switches from being a luxury to a necessity, you could argue it's required for the reproduction of the capitalist class which in turn is required for the reproduction of capital - although this doesn't seem that convincing) - so it does fall into the production of the means of consumption (which marx specifically splits into two sub categories, IIa - necessities and IIb - luxury)

On a more general level the key thing for me in terms of analysis of this is when marx makes the switch from looking at individual capital production, circulation & realisation (in most of volume 1 & 2) to the reproduction schema in the last section of volume 2. The explanation for the switch and the link that he gives is quite a useful summary:-

So long as we looked upon the production of value and the value of the product of capital individually, the bodily form of the commodities produced was wholly immaterial for the analysis, whether it was machines, for instance, corn, or looking glasses. It was always but a matter of illustration, and any branch of production could have served that purpose equally well. What we dealt with was the immediate process of production itself, which presents itself at every point as the process of some individual capital. So far as the reproduction of capital was concerned, it was sufficient to assume that that portion of the product in commodities which represents capital-value finds an opportunity in the sphere of circulation to reconvert itself into its elements of production and thus into its form of productive capital; just as it sufficed to assume that both the labourer and the capitalist find in the market those commodities on which they spend their wages and the surplus-value. This merely formal manner of presentation is no longer adequate in the study of the total social capital and of the value of its products. The reconversion of one portion of the value of the product into capital and the passing of another portion into the individual consumption of the capitalist as well as the working-class form a movement within the value of the product itself in which the result of the aggregate capital finds expression; and this movement is not only a replacement of value, but also a replacement in material and is therefore as much bound up with the relative proportions of the value-components of the total social product as with their use-value, their material shape

This switch is flagged somewhat in vol1 in the accumulation section there, where he says

Accumulation requires the transformation of a portion of the surplus product into capital. But we cannot, except by a miracle, transform into capital anything but such articles as can be employed in the labor process (i.e. means of production), and such further articles as are suitable for the sustenance of the worker (i.e. means of subsistence).

So overall the switch gets made from a sole focus on the surplus value itself that is (or at least appears to be) the product of an individual capital, onto a focus of overall social reproduction which pays just as much attention to the form/material product/use value which represents that surplus value. And that, more than anything is crucial in terms of looking at the total social capital and its reproduction. Put crudely i guess if only luxury items (or not enough of one thing or another) were produced, eventually society wouldn't be able to reproduce itself and value is no more.

Got to admit the reproduction schema at the end of vol2 was for me by far the hardest part of the whole thing to get your head around, but I think probably the most important part of the whole thing - I once spent around 5 hours on one page alone and still couldn't quite get it and at the time would have been happy to get to the stage of even being able to misread it (like rosa), but i couldn't even manage that

Sorry, not really answered your question there, I think the way that marx looks at it and presents it is appealing and to an extent intuitaive, but I do struggle with it at times in terms of reconciling various things together and some if it seems to subjective at times - will have a proper think about it later on - i'll have a read at that carchedi thing you mention as well