oil/ltv/zizek

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petey
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May 19 2010 14:59
oisleep wrote:
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

one reason i have not tackled and will not tackle capital is just this. kudos to you, and some ideas are just hard, but fer cryin' out loud, could he not write clearly?

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oisleep
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May 19 2010 15:52

i wouldn't let that one example put you off, on the whole while not exactly easy (there's no royal road to science as the man said), it's far from difficult either and it's a rewarding and exhilarating read that keeps on giving - i think large parts of his writing are pretty clear given the topic under investigation and his writing style brings it out in a fairly lively manner (for most of the time anyway, and where the particular topic lends itself to that type of style), it's more a problem of the topic itself not really lending itself to something that can be simplified that easy i guess

edit: i red kant's critique of pure reason some time after finishing capital, and that just left me cold, there was someone with a crap writing style, marx is a joy to read after something like that

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May 19 2010 17:49
angelus novus wrote:
...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.

Yeah in fairness Zizek (and so par extension Lacan) does grasp commodity fetishism, but therefor he does not necessarily understand value theory (as I should have stated it). And this is to forget as you say that Zizek does not take up commodity fetishism in itself but only discusses it so as to Lacanianize it (as Lacan himself already did) which totally ignores it's sole purpose as an explanation of the social relations in capitalist society (incidentally again naturalizing capitalism in to the human psyche).

If you want a critical perspective on Lacan I guess of interest is Robert Bösch: Über eine Theorie des Mangels. Zur Psychoanalyse von Jacques Lacan in Krisis, which unfortunately only gives the title, so if anybody knows if the full article is available online, please tell.

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May 20 2010 08:31
revol68 wrote:
I think whatever neatness we lose in moving away from a more narrow orthodox defined approach to value we gain in insights we get to how the whole social field is shaped by the needs of capital and also how a whole host of struggles shape the terrain on which capital moves.

"Moving away" means redefining the basic categories (commodity and value), thus losing the explanatory power they provide (i.e., an answer to the question "How private labors become parts of total social labor in capitalism?" and "How total social capital is reproduced?"). Wouldn't it be better to formulate new theories of housework, education, "gray economy" etc. which would be compatible with the existing value theory but would not dissolve its explanatory power by an all-embracing category of value?

Aufheben wrote:
The idea that we produce labour power in the same way as the independent baker produces cakes to sell is a petty-bourgeois delusion, and not a contribution to revolutionary theory at all.

From Aufheben's review of Fortunati, which I think provides great insight into this topic.

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May 20 2010 10:05
revol68 wrote:
I would have no problem with that though, sleep is obviously important in the reproduction of labour, in it's maintenance.

as jura says, this involves redefining basic categories so that they lose all definition. i mean if sleep produces value, Marx's whole analysis falls apart... Why a tendency to extend the working day if workers are producing in their sleep? Etc. Aufheben are good on this (pieces on Negri & Hardt, Dyer-Witheford, Fortunati & Virno); labour power is not a commodity produced under capitalist relations of production (i.e. it isn't produced by waged labourers performing surplus labour since by definition surplus labour is over and above that which is required to reproduce labour power), consequently it's reproduction is not the production of value for capital. I'm all for theorising how capital structures the totality of social life in it's image, but it precisely doesn't do it because 'everything is productive' and that claim is invariably bound up with sidelining class analysis for some kind of humanism and praise of a sort of Smithian society of small autonomous producers, i.e. a petit-bourgeois utopia not communism.

The irony is this isn't a break with productivist orthodoxy but a generalisation of it. Having fetishised the blue collar 'mass worker' as the productive one, Negri et al couldn't account for struggles outside the factory. Therefore, students, housewives and the unemployed must be producing too! The problem is the proletariat isn't defined by value production but by dispossession (within a society based on value production). Hence Dauvé on there being nothing positive in the proletarian condition.

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May 20 2010 10:37

Hi all.
But no form of work produces value. Value arises from the exchange of commodities ( or am I reading I.I. Rubin wrong?). Personally I think the flaw with the post-operaismo ( and I see more worth in them than the average libcomer) is that they hold to an orthodox notion of value, which they reject rather than engaging with Rubin and the value-form folks.
rebel love
Dave
Oh I wrote this discussion paper on value for the Red Thread miniconference.

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May 20 2010 11:13
grumpy cat wrote:
Hi all.
But no form of work produces value. Value arises from the exchange of commodities ( or am I reading I.I. Rubin wrong?).

Yes, but commodities are produced with value "in view". But I think you are right to point out that the "value-materiality" (Wertgegenständlichkeit) and the reduction of concrete labor to abstract social labor arises only when the commodities are brought in relation to each other, i.e. in exchange. This, however, does not mean that value can be created by exchange only.

I'm sorry Mikus seems to no longer post on here to criticize this view smile.

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May 20 2010 11:35
Quote:
Hi all.
But no form of work produces value. Value arises from the exchange of commodities ( or am I reading I.I. Rubin wrong?). Personally I think the flaw with the post-operaismo ( and I see more worth in them than the average libcomer) is that they hold to an orthodox notion of value, which they reject rather than engaging with Rubin and the value-form folks.
rebel love
Dave
Oh I wrote this discussion paper on value for the Red Thread miniconference.

was that paper meant to back up your value-form position?

in it you talk of value either being, measured, determined, expressed, realised or crystalised in exchange - for all these things to happen (in the sphere of exchange or elsewhere) it has of course to exist, to have been produced

(also are you getting mixed up with your value form theorist, i though it was Reuten who was the value-form propogator, not Rubin)

value-form theory is a load of shite regardless

edit: also on a technical point, most of this thread (or at least the catalyst for most of this discussion) has been about interpreting/understanding marx's position on value, value-form theorists (people like Reuten, Krause etc..) mostly don't see themselves as offering an interpretation of marx's view, but instead an alternative one

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May 20 2010 11:46

Hi all.
First of all a disclaimer. I realise I am stumbling around in the dark a little here. In Australia almost noone talks about value and I am trying to read and think about this on the run.
Obviously something has to be be brought to market and this thing has to possess what society views as a useful use-value, but the concrete labour-process does not imbue the commodity with value - this is decided in the exchange process.
What does this mean for labour? Well I think there are clearly some forms of human activity that produce commodities, some forms that reproduce labour power and some that reproduce the society of commodities and labour. All are necessary for total social capital to realise value, all are potential areas of subversion even if all do not lead to something that can be the actual source of surplus value. This division cannot be reduced to the nature of the concrete labour process. As writers like Federici have pointed out tasks that in the Fordist-Nuclear family under the label 'housework' used to such reproduce labour power, as much as now these same concrete tasks happen in the service industry, that is they are now commodities on the market, and the exchange of them can create and realise surplus value. This is not to deny the previous importance of housework or its continue importance for that matter.
rebel love
Dave

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May 20 2010 11:49

Is there exchange that does not create value? (This is not a trick question)

edit: about from Marx's example about honour.

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May 20 2010 13:06
revol68 wrote:
just because something does not produce profit eg state hospitals and schools, doesn't mean it's not productive of value at the social level

OK, but clearly you are using a different concept of "value" here than the one which Marx uses (value as socially necessary labor time, with concrete labor reduced to abstract social labor in exchange, via money). Are you aware of all of the implications, i.e. every activity, including sleep or sex, becoming productive of value, thus the whole theory of value as it stands losing its point (not to mention its quantitative aspects!)?

Angelus Novus
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May 20 2010 13:12
oisleep wrote:
edit: also on a technical point, most of this thread (or at least the catalyst for most of this discussion) has been about interpreting/understanding marx's position on value, value-form theorists (people like Reuten, Krause etc..) mostly don't see themselves as offering an interpretation of marx's view, but instead an alternative one

That might be true of Reuten or Arthur, but it's not true for example of Heinrich, who basically says that Marx simultaneously held two mutually exclusive conceptions of value, one inherited directly from classical political economy, and one which was Marx's own innovation (and which Heinrich regards as the correct understanding).

Also, Rubin, along with Paschukanis, is the major influence on the form-analytical school. The main difference is that Rubin still regards simple commodity production as a historical era, which all the later value-form types disagree with.

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May 20 2010 13:24
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revol68 wrote:

just because something does not produce profit eg state hospitals and schools, doesn't mean it's not productive of value at the social level

OK, but clearly you are using a different concept of "value" here than the one which Marx uses (value as socially necessary labor time, with concrete labor reduced to abstract social labor in exchange, via money). Are you aware of all of the implications, i.e. every activity, including sleep or sex, becoming productive of value, thus the whole theory of value as it stands losing its point (not to mention its quantitative aspects!)?

I guess this rests on what you mean by productive. As much as some labour process reproduce labour power or the social background necessary for accumulation then they are productive on a social level, even if as specific activities they don't produce a commodity for exchange as well as labour power as a commodity....

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May 20 2010 13:25
revol68 wrote:
oisleep wrote:
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

yes this is true but likewise the reverse holds, that just because something does not produce profit eg state hospitals and schools, doesn't mean it's not productive of value at the social level and the same goes for a whole host of things, like relatively concrete labour like housework to extremely abstract things like subcultural aesthetics and trends or even emotions and traits, like love, honour, dignity or envy.

Love: your neighbour('s) theory of value

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May 20 2010 13:27
grumpy cat wrote:
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revol68 wrote:

just because something does not produce profit eg state hospitals and schools, doesn't mean it's not productive of value at the social level

OK, but clearly you are using a different concept of "value" here than the one which Marx uses (value as socially necessary labor time, with concrete labor reduced to abstract social labor in exchange, via money). Are you aware of all of the implications, i.e. every activity, including sleep or sex, becoming productive of value, thus the whole theory of value as it stands losing its point (not to mention its quantitative aspects!)?

I guess this rests on what you mean by productive. As much as some labour process reproduce labour power or the social background necessary for accumulation then they are productive on a social level, even if as specific activities they don't produce a commodity for exchange as well as labour power as a commodity....

the only basis that value exists on is the social level though

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May 20 2010 13:31

Can I just quickly drop in and ask angelus novus if you would like to take the chance to translate Paul Mattick's review of Reichelt and Rubin, might be interesting to put in the libcom library.

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May 20 2010 13:35

Also to sidestep a little, whilst Negri's notion of biopolitical production can be pretty fluffy and thus an easy target fellow post-workerist Marazzi's notion of biocapitalism is a lot more grounded. He talks of how the 'Google model' works by externalising elements of the labour process to the customer. For example when I go to my local Coles ( a supermarket) half the checkouts are computerised self-checkouts - this also relies on a high level of familiarity with computer interfaces that didn't exist 10 years ago. Apparently as well ( and I can't confirm this) but those id checks you do where you have to type out the bit of distorted text so you can prove you are a human ( like you need to do for libcom, is it called capture?) anyway apparently the texts are taken from books Google is scanning but their software can't recognise - thus we are working to translate these texts for them.
off to bed
rebel love
Dave

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May 20 2010 13:35
Angelus Novus wrote:
oisleep wrote:
edit: also on a technical point, most of this thread (or at least the catalyst for most of this discussion) has been about interpreting/understanding marx's position on value, value-form theorists (people like Reuten, Krause etc..) mostly don't see themselves as offering an interpretation of marx's view, but instead an alternative one

That might be true of Reuten or Arthur, but it's not true for example of Heinrich, who basically says that Marx simultaneously held two mutually exclusive conceptions of value, one inherited directly from classical political economy, and one which was Marx's own innovation (and which Heinrich regards as the correct understanding).

Also, Rubin, along with Paschukanis, is the major influence on the form-analytical school. The main difference is that Rubin still regards simple commodity production as a historical era, which all the later value-form types disagree with.

yeah fair point

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May 20 2010 13:37
grumpy cat wrote:
I guess this rests on what you mean by productive.

Sure, but obviously I am referring to Marx's use of the term, i.e. the only one that makes sense within his theory of value and what it's supposed to explain.

I don't mean to say that reproductive work, disciplining etc. are of no interest to us as communists. What I'm saying is merely that Marx's theory of value was "designed" to explain certain social relationships (A) as well as account for them quantitatively to a considerable extent, while there are myriads of other relationships (B, C, ...) that it can't explain. If we try to inflate Marx's value theory by redefining value in the way suggested on this thread, almost every activity becomes productive of value, hence almost any product becoming value, and the capacity to explain A is lost.

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May 20 2010 13:39
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anyway apparently the texts are taken from books Google is scanning but their software can't recognise - thus we are working to translate these texts for them

I would be grudgingly impressed if that was true - but it's not is it?

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May 20 2010 13:42

Hey oisleep. I'll chase it up with the friend who told me if you like.
cheers
Dave

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May 20 2010 13:48

Hey Jura.
That sounds pretty sound. But the lines of demarcation are frayed and scrambled in the wake of the collapse of Fordism aren't they?
cheers
Dave

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May 20 2010 14:03
oisleep wrote:
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anyway apparently the texts are taken from books Google is scanning but their software can't recognise - thus we are working to translate these texts for them

I would be grudgingly impressed if that was true - but it's not is it?

not sure if it's google books, but I think captchas are aggregated to transcribe scanned texts (the bits that didn't OCR anyway).

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May 20 2010 15:28
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Is there exchange that does not create value?

No exchange can "create" value. It can only be realized through exchange. That value is created in production is an extremely important point for Marx as he precisely critiqued vulgar economic theory for believing that value magically appears on the market because commodities somehow have value as a physical property. In other words, the belief that value is created through exchange alone is one-sided and fetishistic.

What is different about capitalist production according to Marx (and he is clear on this in the Preface to the Grundrisse) is that it replaces consumption with a sphere of circulation (i.e. exchanges - sale and purchase) as the contradiction to production. Production always starts with an imaginary. In relation to consumption, someone believes that someone else will consume the product if it has a particular use. In capitalism, however, the capitalist imagines that someone will pay for it (value) and this is the purpose of production. Someone have to have a need for the product so the commodity has to have a use-value, but this is secondary.

Quote:
not sure if it's google books, but I think captchas are aggregated to transcribe scanned texts (the bits that didn't OCR anyway).

I think Google was thinking of buying captcha (or whatever it's called). In any case, I believe that that work is actually unproductive of surplus value. It is necessary labour though, that will attract eyeballs to the ads/ attract clicks to links (the audience commodity) and the work of this audience commodity is what creates value.

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May 20 2010 16:33

that's pretty clever, yet so simple as well

Dirac
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May 20 2010 18:31

To be fair, most work housewives do is totally unproductive and only serves the purpose of keeping them occupied.

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May 20 2010 18:39

In the passage you're citing Revol, isn't Marx referring to a particular labour-process at a specific point of production? Which means that the labour-process of clerks, admins etc. are not an aggregate worker involved in value production. However, I do agree that from the point of view of total social capital, however, it's just one big aggregate worker and all labour is part of value production.

The question is whether this or that labour directly produces surplus-value, not if labour is necessary. This can be used, as JK suggests, to identify why we see privatization of public services or why capital colonizes more and more aspects of life. Such an analysis, however, should not be used to exclude this or that group from the working class or deny that class struggle can be effective amongst unproductive workers (e.g. it is pretty clear that without the necessary labour of cleaners or book keepers the wheels of capital would not be able to turn).

I think Marx makes the distinction between productive and unproductive labour much clearer in Vol. 2 when he argues that necessary labour involved in circulation deducts from surplus-value (such as book keeping, labour involved in warehousing etc.). I suspect something similar can be said for cleaners and admins as well. While their labour is necessary, it is not productive of surplus value and since their

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May 20 2010 18:42
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also reproduction does produce value because in 16 years time or the little shits that have popped out will sell their labour power and as we know value is always realised retrospectively and I see no reason why it should matter whether the time between production and exchange is 10 months or 18 years.

Proof of the value of reproduction is easily demonstrable in the various child incentive policies states have historically used to increase the birth rate.
In more recent times this gap has been filled by immigration in Europe, again something outside the immediate production process but no less vital to the production of value.

This has more to do with how the value of labour-power is established and nothing to do with the labour that went into (re)producing labour-power is realized through the wage.

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May 20 2010 19:05
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You might as well say that 100 workers involved in an assembly line are a deduction from surplus value cos in an imaginary scenario you could reduce them to maybe 12 people, it seems no more absurd than imagining that the warehouse staff are a deduction from surplus value as value couldn't be realised without them in the first place.

But then you would be producing relative surplus-value, i.e. increase the rate of exploitation. The labour of warehouse staff deducts from surplus-value because it's just a cost (as they do not create add a useful effect to the commodity). In part, this helps explain the turn towards demand driven/ just-in-time production. It also helps to explain the growth of global logistics businesses which (among other commodities) sell warehousing as a commodity to other enterprises, thereby turning the previous unproductive labour of warehouse workers into productive labour.

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To me it seems like some sort of productivist dream, to imagine that 'real production' can be separated from various 'unproductive' sectors, when in truth things like the financial sector are as vital in the constant circulation and production of value as any production line. To think of one as more 'real' than the other is to imagine that value itself is some real physical thing rather than the outcome of a set of social relations and assumptions.

No one is trying to say that one type of production is more real than others. It is from the POV of capital that the distinction has to be made because (as you obviously know) the point is the production of value and not material wealth. IMO it is valuable for analytical purposes to keep the distinction simply to understand how value is produced in capitalism. As I said above, it should not serve as a marker for who should be included in the working class.

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May 20 2010 19:11
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I'm not following this sentence?

Sorry, I don't think I was making myself clear. When you argue that it doesn't matter if there is time between production and realization of value, I am confused as to who realizes the value contained in labour power. As far as I can see this can only be done through the wage, which the labourer typically receives and not the persons who produced it (that is unless a person is sold like a slave or their wages are taken away from them by the family).

My point is that what you're describing above has more to do with how the value of labour-power is established (value of means of subsistence, which includes the biological reproduction of labour power, + stuff like education and whatever the moral/social component is)