Proudhon's 'labour money'

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SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 5 2009 23:45
Proudhon's 'labour money'

Proudhon suggests certificates for labour performed ('time chits', 'labour money', etc.) enabling the eradication of money and the equivalence of all commodities. Marx suggests (Critique of the Gotha Programme) a "certificate from society that [the labourer] has furnished such and such an amount of labour", which can be used to draw "from the social stock of means of consumption as much as costs the same amount of labour."

Does anyone know of any good (and preferably short) articles on the distinction between the two?

It seems, from a very cursory look, that the difference may be as follows:
Marx states that within "the co-operative society based on common ownership" the "producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labour employed on these products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them." Marx is after a direct relation in which the labour time I perform is returned to me in the form of goods. Proudhon, on the other hand, wants to retain exchange. He also wants to retain private ownership of the means of production, and to avoid centralisation. Consequently, Proudhon's certificates - although intended to do away with money - simply replicate it. This is because the social labour expressed in Proudhon's certificates constitutes a form of exchange value.

Value only becomes exchange value when in an exchange relation; and exchange allows the purchase, and thereby the exploitation of labour, and thus the capacity for capital to grow. Marx on the other hand, by refusing exchange, circumvents this.

What however are the implications for the role and status of money within communist economies? It seems fairly obvious that if one retains wage labour and exchange relations within a 'communist' social structure nothing will have changed at all. If one cannot abolish money without abolishing the commodity form (which Proudhon's error seems to indicate), then it presumably follows that abolishing the commodity form entails the abolition of money. Most communist societies seem to have retained money (information on the history of this issue would be of interest); and on this logic, if it holds, any alternative to capitalism that retains exchange, wage etc. will not have altered capitalist social relations (at least not to the desired extent). ...yet a whole host of practical issues would seem to arise from Marx's 'certificates' and the distribution of goods that this entails

RedHughs
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Dec 6 2009 05:13
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Most communist societies seem to have retained money (information on the history of this issue would be of interest); and on this logic, if it holds, any alternative to capitalism that retains exchange, wage etc. will not have altered capitalist social relations (at least not to the desired extent). ...yet a whole host of practical issues would seem to arise from Marx's 'certificates' and the distribution of goods that this entails

Which communist societies are you referring to?

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 6 2009 09:30

Thought that might be a problem as I typed it. I was thinking primarily of the USSR, China, etc, and had meant to write 'communist' rather than communist. I do however know very little about how those societies attempted to manage financial issues, and I know less about attempts at abolishing money entirely.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 6 2009 09:39
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Proudhon suggests certificates for labour performed ('time chits', 'labour money', etc.) enabling the eradication of money and the equivalence of all commodities.

So, in other words, Proudhon proposes reducing all acts of labor to a single homogeneous labour-time, in order to enable the eradication of the equivalence of products of labor?

Did Proudhon have any proposals for squaring circles? wink

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 6 2009 10:47

Yeah, it's kind of crazy, I know. Yet whilst I've not read Proudhon himself, and am doing this largely via a poorly remembered reading of the Poverty of Philosophy, he does seem to want to eradicate money in order to ensure general equivalence. In the P of P Marx states that:

"when supply and demand are even balanced, the relative value of any product is accurately determined by the quantity of labour embodied in it... M. Proudhon inverts the order of things. Begin, he says, by measuring the relative value of a product by the quantity of labour embodied in it, and supply and demand will infallibly balance one another. Production will correspond to consumption, the product will always be exchangeable. Its current price will express exactly its true value. Instead of saying like everyone else: when the weaher is fine, a lot of people are to be seen going out for a walk, M.Proudhon makes his people go out for a walk in order to be able to ensure them fine weather."

Dave B
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Dec 6 2009 13:00

The difference I think is that proudhons labour notes circulate and Karls don’t there was a good discussion on it I thought a while ago made better by several other intelligent contributors who were I think trying to keep a potentially complicated subject simple.

It starts in earnest around post 10 I think.

http://libcom.org/forums/theory/dreaded-labour-notes-02042009

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 6 2009 18:47

A summary from one of the participants in that thread would be useful

Yorkie Bar
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Dec 6 2009 18:52

I think the real difference is that Marx's labour notes are socially organised in order to distribute resources; Proudhon's are organised between individuals to facilitate exchange.

~J.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 8 2009 18:51

Thanks. My question was prompted by myu reading of a guy called Ernesto Screpanti, who offers some rather questionable suggestions and comments as to how production and distribution should be organised. He also has a rather peculiar view of freedom, according to which the greater the number of options open to us the more free we are. Quantitifying freedom in this way (which forms part of his argument for retaining markets and competition within communist society) seems slighly perverse; is it something anyone else has come across before?

Dave B
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Dec 8 2009 20:01

Yes Proudhon.

Proudhon recognised that the problem was that people were forced to work for others that owned the means of production or ‘property’ by which they could exploit them by legalised theft ie surplus value.

The solution was system whereby everybody should own their own means of production facilitated by a ‘peoples bank’ that would offer interest free or near interest free loans to enable each worker to obtain there ‘own means of production’.

After that each worker would sell his own product on the open market at its natural price.

If you were making square wheels or being particularly inefficient you would learn the error of your ways and turn to something else presumably.

The idea was geared up to and attractive to small productive units, artisans in small workshops etc as well as family peasant farms and shopkeepers; the apogee of Proudhonism.

It fell apart a bit with the technical necessities of large scale production eg making steam engines and railways etc as Proudhon admitted.

In which case the problem was solved by breaking the process down into smaller units.

An idea that to some extent reappeared within the capitalist theory of internal markets and competing external markets within large corporations.

As an aside;

So for instance you might have a large retail organisation like Tesco or Wallmart with initially their own food science analytical laboratory. What they do is costed and budgeted for etc.

If it can be done externally for less then they let their own department go and franchise it out.

The same applies to transport and owning your own lorries and even the canteen for that matter.

Anarcho
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Dec 9 2009 22:48
Dave B wrote:
The idea was geared up to and attractive to small productive units, artisans in small workshops etc as well as family peasant farms and shopkeepers; the apogee of Proudhonism.

Ah, yes, this would be the same Proudhon who argued: “M. de Sismondi, like all men of patriarchal ideas, would like the division of labour, with machinery and manufactures, to be abandoned, and each family to return to the system of primitive indivision, – that is, to each one by himself, each one for himself, in the most literal meaning of the words. That would be to retrograde; it is impossible.” The same Proudhon that argued consistently for worker's co-operatives to run workplaces?

I guess that Proudhon did not agree with Marx on what the apogee of his system was... I wonder who was right?

Dave B wrote:
It fell apart a bit with the technical necessities of large scale production eg making steam engines and railways etc as Proudhon admitted.

Admitted? Strange way of putting it... more like advocated from the start and continued until his death...

Dave B wrote:
In which case the problem was solved by breaking the process down into smaller units.

And where does Proudhon advocate that?

I do wish people would recognise that Marx did a hachet-job of epic proportions in Poverty of Philosophy -- as the Proudhon Reader (called "Property is Theft"!) I'm working on will prove (out next year, thanks to AK Press, to mark 170 years of What is Property? and so 170 years of anarchism as a named socialist tendency).

As for Marx's labour notes and Proudhon's, well, Marx stressed that “obviously” [!] “the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed” as “nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption” -- so not that much difference... how the Marx of 1847 would have gnashed his teeth...

In terms of Proudhon, Marx is repeating his arguments -- for Proudhon, a socialist society would be one where capital would be collectively owned and so workers would not be selling their labour to an owning class. They would run their own workplaces -- and as Marx admitted, this was a mode of production which was not capitalist.

But, then, Marx did appropriate most of Proudhon's best ideas...

To summarise: If you advocate a labour-note economy based on federations of co-operatives and socialised credit then you are a petit-bourgeois utopian reactionary; if you advocate a labour-note economy based on co-operatives and socialised credit for a (unspecified but lengthy) transition period then you are a proletarian scientific revolutionary. smile

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jura
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Dec 9 2009 23:29
Anarcho wrote:
In terms of Proudhon, Marx is repeating his arguments -- for Proudhon, a socialist society would be one where capital would be collectively owned and so workers would not be selling their labour to an owning class.

I don't know about Proudhon, but Marx certainly never described socialism in terms of "collectively owned" capital. Not to mention that while Proudhon's socialism presupposes commodity production (with the "pious wish", as Marx put it, of no money, i.e. direct exchangeability of all commodities, at the same time, which is nonsense), Marx argued that commodity production itself needs to be replaced by directly social labor.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Dec 10 2009 15:26
Anarcho wrote:
Dave B wrote:
the Proudhon Reader[/url] (called "Property is Theft"!) I'm working on will prove (out next year, thanks to AK Press, to mark 170 years of What is Property? and so 170 years of anarchism as a named socialist tendency).

Given that you're writing a book on the subject, do you have any comments on groups or theoretical trends that have pursued these ideas, and on the merits of doing so?

Anarcho
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Dec 12 2017 18:38

A bit late, I know...

jura wrote:
Not to mention that while Proudhon's socialism presupposes commodity production (with the "pious wish", as Marx put it, of no money, i.e. direct exchangeability of all commodities, at the same time, which is nonsense), Marx argued that commodity production itself needs to be replaced by directly social labor.

Yes, indeed, Proudhon was a market socialist -- but he did not wish to get rid of money. Nor did he advocate labour-notes:

Proudhon’s constituted value and the myth of labour notes

That is pure invention by Marx -- along with a lot of other nonsense proclaimed against Proudhon. More here:

Review: The Poverty of Philosophy by Karl Marx

Shame to see Marx's nonsense repeated here... there is a valid critique to be made of Proudhon's market socialism, unfortunately for Marxists, Marx's is not it.

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jura
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Dec 12 2017 22:15

Yeah, Darimon, Proudhon's follower, not Proudhon himself.

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rubra
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Dec 17 2017 18:35

Basically labor notes given to a person belong to that person only. You cannot trade labor notes with people like you can money, they are yours alone, and are given to you depending on how much labor you perform, rather than being set like an hourly wage. also upon completion of transaction for goods/resources, the labor note is destroyed immediately.

Kropotkin criticized labor notes, saying "The idea of labor checks, you know, is old. It dates from Robert Owen; Proudhon commended it in 1848; Marxists have made “Scientific Socialism” of it today"

Basically resources should be given to a person based on their need, NOT based on how much labor they have performed.