Marx out of 5?

5 - Orthodox Marxist
9% (7 votes)
4 - Marx has a strong influence on your philosophy
51% (40 votes)
3 - Marx did some good
31% (24 votes)
2 - Marx is irrelevant
3% (2 votes)
1 - It would be better if he’d never existed
6% (5 votes)
Total votes: 78

Posted By

Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 18:44

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Lazy Riser
Aug 30 2005 16:00

Hi

Quote:
castoriadis has a good critique of marx.

Indeed. However, seeing as Castoriadis is so revered by many of Marx’s staunchest defenders, it’s a bit cruel to cite it.

Quote:
If you do not accept this ethical judgement, if you believe that it is not necessarily wrong for prices to differ from amount of labour expenditure, then you do not agree with Marx’s Labour Theory of Value

Excellent post, afraser. However, in every day life, I find so little acceptance of Marx-LTV that I question the utility of such an eloquent refutation.

For any theory of value to be worthwhile, it must carry its own weight. Having invested several hours of my expensive time in Marx-LTV, and not received one penny in return for my labour, I ascertain its own value to be zero, and consign it to the dustbin of history.

afraser, could you not find it in your heart to disregard Marx’s theoretical flaws and just be grateful for his tireless efforts running the elfin brigade at the North Pole and delivering the presents every Christmas from his magic sleigh? Just for once in your crazy market driven existence, think of the reindeer. That’s the real issue at stake.

Love

Chris

gav
Aug 30 2005 18:36
Lazy Riser wrote:
For any theory of value to be worthwhile, it must carry its own weight. Having invested several hours of my expensive time in Marx-LTV, and not received one penny in return for my labour, I ascertain its own value to be zero, and consign it to the dustbin of history.

<3 lazyriser

afraser
Aug 30 2005 22:27

Thanks for the links to the Aufheben Decadence criticisms, I especially liked their description of Capital as “the big unread work”. But they are still too timid to admit the emperor is wearing his birthday suit; they say he is instead a victim of tailoring incompletion:

Quote:
Instead of rejecting Capital (or ignoring it) what should be emphasised is its incompletion, that it is only one part of an overall project of 'capitalism and its overthrow', in which the self-activity of the working class has the crucial role.

Allowing for their diplomatic language, they have a point: criticism, on its own, is cheap.

Let me then critique capitalism today. The main points:

1) Wage labour is a form of slavery;

2) Large corporations are run by and for their CEO’s, not their shareholders and certainly not their workers;

3) Capital/money is created from collateral, primarily alienable land.

In contrast, in an ideal system:

1) Wage labour would be forbidden;

2) Corporations would be run by and for their workers;

3) Money would be created by fiat without any requirement for collateral – alienable ownership of land would not even be recognised.

Would Karl have agreed with that? Probably not. But that would be his problem more than mine. Once we dump Marx we can advance.

Aufheben again:

Quote:
Our task is to contribute to the revolutionary theory of the proletariat which neither orthodox Marxism nor anarchism represents. But the Marxist strand of the historical worker's movement has developed the most important ideas we need to address.

Time for that to end, time for the anarchism strand to develop the most important ideas. It’s not like Marxism presents that much in the way of competition, people….

knightrose
Aug 31 2005 11:31

Castoriadis never criticised Marx. He simply constructed a straw man based on the capitalist notions of Lenin and Trotsky, named it marxism, then attacked it. Sorry. I've got shitloads of Solidarity stuff on my website, but nothing by Castoriadis.

Not only did he not criticise Marx, but his palns for an equal wages society amounted to little more than a type of libertarian capitalism.

I'm also pretty sure, going off on another tangent, that Marx never came up with an iron law of wages. That was some other guy, probably some half-deranged "marxist" in the SPD. One of the reasons Marx would have given himself a ) in this poll.

I like this thread. Revol is talking sheer commonsense.

Lazy Riser
Aug 31 2005 12:14

Hi

Quote:
Castoriadis never criticised Marx. He simply constructed a straw man based on the capitalist notions of Lenin and Trotsky, named it marxism, then attacked it.

Ah, the “negation is the most positive of all possibilities” trick. Nice one.

Quote:
his palns for an equal wages society amounted to little more than a type of libertarian capitalism.

In what way? Competition? What’s your problem with capitalism exactly? Unfairness? Pollution? Or is it economic insecurity and political misrepresentation?

Quote:
I've got shitloads of Solidarity stuff on my website, but nothing by Castoriadis

Does that reflect the views of Solidarity as whole immediately prior to its end?

Quote:
Revol is talking sheer commonsense

Back handed insult? I don’t think so. There is commonsense in what Revol sais.

Love

Chris

MalFunction
Aug 31 2005 15:25

greets

a bit baffled by the comment that castoriadis didn't criticise marx.

modern capitalism and revolution contains, amongst other things a detailed critique of the whole notion of "falling rate of profit" using the categories and theories propounded by marx in Capital.

the segments of "marxism and revolutionary theory" i have - history and revolution, and history as creation are also a critique of marx (and marxism). (not got the fate of marxism)

sadly i haven't got the full text of marxism and revolutionary theory as that's in the imaginary Institution of society, which i don't have (anyone a spare copy?)

no idea about how much of the marxism castoriaids critiques is down to lenin and trotsky and others - have never read anything by them.

mal

afraser
Aug 31 2005 16:00

Revol68 and Knightrose are right and I am wrong on the "iron law of wages": Marx only used that phrase when criticising it.

However, he did believe in an equivalent theory which gave similar results to the "iron law of wages" - sometimes called "immiserisation" or "subsistence theory of wages", although I don't think Marx himself used those terms.

It was an important part of Marx's theory, Engels emphasises it in his review of Capital where he quotes Marx from Chapter 25:

Quote:
The greater the social wealth ... the greater is the relative surplus-population, or industrial-reserve-army. But the greater this reserve-army in proportion to the active (regularly employed) labour-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated (permanent) surplus-population, or strata of workers, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labour. The more extensive, finally, the lazarus-layers of the working class, and the industrial reserve-army, the greater is official pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation. [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/reviews-capital/dwochenblatt.htm]

Given that, I wonder if Marx's denunciations of the "iron law of wages" were affected as a means to attack Proudhon and Lassalle when they were his rivals for leadership and control?

[edited to correct spelling]

Lazy Riser
Aug 31 2005 16:44

Hi

Quote:
Given that, I wonder if Marx's denunciations of the "iron law of wages" were effected as a means to attack Proudhon and Lassalle when they were his rivals for leadership and control?

Hardly the actions of an "idiot". Karl scores 3.7 out of 5.

Love

Chris

Kittenpie
Aug 31 2005 21:30

Just a couple of wee points

- Labour theory of value has not been discredited (apart from folk like Popple and Hayek, Friedman, neo-cons). Are you seriously arguing this point?

- Marx was most definitely not fatalist - barbarism or socialism I think he said. History consists of class struggle - no-one ever gave us (and /or our ancestors, and for at least some of the middle class folks on here) anything without a fight - usually bloody. Tollpuddle Martyrs, Luddites, Peterloo, Tranent, Nicaragua, Iraq (flavour)

BTW Has anyone mentioned it is the 700th anniversary of Wallace's death while I've been away - a man of the people in an international sense. I await the onslaught with my keen intelligence and kalashnikov (wheresmy - spelling ffs)

The capitalist are red in tooth and claw as we know, despite their benign faces.

x

a few kisses for now.

And I do like to keep things SIMPLE. So people can understand. Stop it. It's fucking hard enough to talk to the working class (where I'm from big style)and you guys are a different - if well-meaning -species I think. eg, leaflets need few words and good graphics.

Communist training - I suppose it will die out now that the USSR is gone. But yur misguided ideas might think this is a good thing - till we completely ruin the earth or blow ourselves up. I am sorry the way things turned out

Grrr/love

Volin
Aug 31 2005 21:56

xXx whoever you are!

Quote:
BTW Has anyone mentioned it is the 700th anniversary of Wallace's death while I've been away - a man of the people in an international sense.

Oooh, I wouldn't exactly say that, then I quite like annoying uber-nationalists. Stick it on the "being pro-independence" thread and it'll run for ages.

afraser
Aug 31 2005 21:57
Quote:
Labour theory of value has not been discredited (apart from folk like Popple and Hayek, Friedman, neo-cons). Are you seriously arguing this point?

Yes am seriously arguing this point. LTV has been discredited by me: http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6245&start=35

But I await some counter argument - I am after all in a minority of 2 according to the votes on this forum so far.

[edited to insert quote since volin beat me in the race to reply]

Volin
Aug 31 2005 22:05

Ok, it's one thing saying LTV can't/shouldn't be the basis for our analyses of Capitalism and another that it doesn't hold some value as a method, albeit imperfect one, of being a part of an analysis. It's also a wee bit of a leap to disagree with some of Marx's theories and then to reject

everything he ever did

ever.

I detest Marx-lovers but seriously, do you think the socialist movement would have been better off without Marx?

afraser
Aug 31 2005 23:22
Quote:
Does LTV hold some value [ooh, the pun] as a method, albeit an imperfect one, of being a part of an analysis?

Welllllll....in a grotesquely simplistic sense, yes. Marx's analysis was throughout a concoction of half truths, rather than outright lies (which makes it especially irritating). Marxian LTV strictly interpreted: no, no value. But, being less strict, yes, labour is the thing that counts, although land and natural resources are also important: especially oil, but even more especially alienable land ownership, which is the source of most money creation. The important point is: who has the right to own land alienably - society as a whole, or private individuals? That is obscured by any strict Marxian LTV. But that capitalists have no right to any surplus value/profit, that is agreed by both Marx and I, albeit I am somewhat more sophisticated: for me, workers own the right to that created by their own labour, while society as a whole owns the right to that created by land, natural resources, loaned money. So, more sophisticated, but also simpler, easier to explain to the ordinary people, because purely a matter of natural justice, no made up ‘scientific socialism’ required.

Quote:
It's also a wee bit of a leap to disagree with some of Marx's theories and then to reject everything he ever did ever.

You are right, I am guilty of some exaggeration in that. But not much. Condition of the English Working Class is a good history, and an earlier poster said Marx had good things to say about atheism. But they are not really the main points, when people think about Marx.

Quote:
I detest Marx-lovers but seriously, do you think the socialist movement would have been better off without Marx?

Yes - of course, even. The First International would have continued. Malatesta and Kropotkin would not have led the anarchist movement into anarcho-communism. The SPD (which until 1959 was as Marxist as any Leninist) would not have backed the destruction of the German revolution in 1919. Makhno would not have fought and lost alone. Stalin would be unknown. Hitler would have been beaten in the election of 1932. Spanish Stalinists would not have crushed the revolution in Spain, and Franco would have lost in his turn. Pol Pot would not have constructed his pyramids of human skulls. The Peoples Republic of China would not have adopted 'Socialism with Chinese Characteristics', nor would it have crushed its students under tank tracks. Socialism in Scotland and the rest of the West would not have been plagued with elitist Marxists: the UCS sit in, for example, would have been genuinely revolutionary and so succeeded, and the SSP would not exist in its present, regicidal, form, but would be part of a mass movement.

The socialist movement, and the whole enlightenment project, took at wrong turn when Marx was favoured over Proudhon. The lights went out then, but we can switch them back on now.

Jesus, people are now turning to Wahabism as the only serious alternative to neo-liberalism, because of the Marxists, and the damage they did.

cmdrdeathguts
Sep 1 2005 02:35

if you remove marx from history, none of those situations could have arisen anyway.

knightrose
Sep 1 2005 07:22

afraser I think misses the point about the Labour Theory of Value. Nothing has exchange value unless human labour is put into its production. Land is without exchange value unless it is worked on by humans. Apples only get a price when someone picks them. Oil has to be drilled from the land.

MalFunction
Sep 1 2005 10:26

greets

couple of points in passing

1) have just order "imaginary institution of society" (25 squids nearly)

2) interesting discussion on labour theory of value on wikipedia here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_theory_of_value

3) land can have exchange value without labour being expended on it, either as a potential site for something (housing, development etc) or as a privately owned site of scientific interest / landscape etc where no labour power has been used to create it.

(afraser -now we are 2!)

mal

knightrose
Sep 1 2005 11:51
Quote:
land can have exchange value without labour being expended on it, either as a potential site for something (housing, development etc) or as a privately owned site of scientific interest / landscape etc where no labour power has been used to create it.

The point being as a potential. In other words, exchange value exists if labour power can be applied to it

Volin
Sep 1 2005 14:44
afraser wrote:
Yes - of course, even. The First International would have continued. Malatesta and Kropotkin would not have led the anarchist movement into anarcho-communism.

*Would the First International even have started and developed?

*Why is the transformation of the anarchist movement to anarcho-communism a bad thing?!...I'm positive that the influence of other socialists and Marx helped to influence it in this direction, ofcourse they did. But even without Marx himself, the ideas of Proudhonism onwards were sure to have evolved into communism. It didn't start with Marx, and it was going to arise within the given milieu.

*Equating what Marx said to the origins of Pol Pot's actions is frankly immature. "Marxism" has been used to justify countless oppressing regimes and yet, in nearly every case, those same regimes would be in no sense in agreement with what he spoke for (right or wrong).

Marx's importance is not only in terms of what he advocated, but likewise in how the socialist movement reacted to him.

Quote:
for me, workers own the right to that created by their own labour, while society as a whole owns the right to that created by land, natural resources, loaned money. So, more sophisticated, but also simpler, easier to explain to the ordinary people, because purely a matter of natural justice, no made up ‘scientific socialism’ required.

Why does labour have a "right" to that which is created? Because without labour there wouldn't be commodities created in the first place. It's resources + labour + capital (they aren't the same) which give us material production and value, and that's LTV. The problem only comes when you bring price relationships into it and "transformation". But it isn't disputed that labour is a source of value, but to what extent such things as demand come into it -in the long run.

*What is social justice? Is socialism based in ethics and "rights"?

*Isn't scientific socialism meant to be not necessarily determinism and the explaining away of everything according to natural laws, but an attempt to analyse the objective conditions and transformation of society? What's wrong with that?

redtwister
Sep 1 2005 15:48
afraser wrote:
What is Marx’s Labour Theory of Value?

Simplified as much as possible, Marx’s Labour Theory of value is:

1) [definition] That some objects (called commodities) have an inherent property called ‘value’;

2) [definition] That this ‘value’ is equal to the amount of labour expended on making the commodity (strictly: the amount of socially necessary abstract labour expended);

3) [deduction] That in a market system with private ownership of capital, prices will tend to be greater than ‘values’, with the excess (surplus value) retained by the capitalists.

4) [ethical judgement] That, in order to be fair, the price that a commodity trades for should be equal to its ‘value’. The more price differs from ‘value’, the more immoral that system is;

Either Marx’s ‘value’ is the amount of labour spent making a commodity, or it is the sum of the land and labour inputs that went into the making of the commodity. And most people, if they had to choose a cost-of-production definition of ‘value’, would think that ignoring land and natural resource inputs would not make sense, especially in the modern oil dominated economy.

If there is more than one input, their relative contributions have to be calculated somehow – which takes us straight into marginal utility, which is completely incompatible with Marx’s Labour Theory of Value.

What a mess… but let’s ignore that for a moment and get to the meat of the matter. For those who dislike reading long posts, I apologize, but this matter deserves some detailed discussion.

1) [definition] That some objects (called commodities) have an inherent property called ‘value’;

Well, that’s not correct at any level. First of all, Marx, following Hegel, does not attempt to lay out schoolbook definitions of concepts disconnected from their usage and to the relations to which they relate. Second, since Marx is engaged in “a critique of political economy” (the subtitle of Capital), Marx is making a critique which has to remain imminent to the terms of political economy and if he develops new categories, he has to do so from within the terms of political economy. So the term “commodities” is not arbitrary, as your statement implies. The idea of commodities having an “inherent property” is to simply use an inappropriate concept.

Now, your lack of understanding of use-value and exchange-value is part of the core fo your problems. So let’s start there. I will try to sum matters up as much as possible, and it will indeed be a bit of a hack job.

The core of commodity production is that goods are produced for exchange (and hence become commodities), and their usefulness, their use-value, is a matter of concern for the consumer, the purchaser, but a matter of relative indifference to the producer. Producer A produces shoes, not so he can wear them, but so that he may exchange them for other items. As such, A goes to B, who produces books, which she does not produce to use, but also for exchange. However, in a market society, A produces more shoes than B can use and A may not even want a book from B. In fact, A may want a coat, produced by C, but C may not need a new pair of shoes and instead wants a book. But B does not need coat. On top of that, it may take much more time to produce the book than the coat or the shoes, and B is no fool and so will not trade 20 hours of her labor for 5 hours of A’s labor. That would be getting fleeced.

As long as we have a situation where A, B, and C have to exchange one commodity for another directly, they actually have to depend on their use-value. However, to skip a lot of analysis, what if there is one commodity that acts as the universal equivalent of all other commodities? Let’s say gold (which is useful for this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are that it is malleable, separable into finite, uniform parts, and markable.) You now have a process whereby A can sell shoes to L, M, N, and O, acquiring enough gold to purchase one book from B. B sells that one book and can now buy meat from L and corn from O. C, having sold a coat to L, X and Y, can now purchase ANY OTHER item using gold.

In the process, instead of having to negotiate direct transfers of any one item for another, or what is called barter. Instead, you end up with a thick network of indirect social relations between A, B, C, L, M, N, O, X, and Y, even though most of them have never met each other. This body of indirect social relations between people is mediated by a universal equivalent; hence this universal equivalent becomes money. As money, it no longer matters that the gold has value itself (this is later important in price), but that it exists as the means of allowing completely unlike items, with completely different uses, to be exchanged in equivalent amounts, the results of the exchange being the acquisition of money with which one may then buy other items regardless of whether or not the seller wishes to purchase the commodities the buyer produces. As long as I have the money, all things can be purchased. This is roughly C-M-C.

However, to get an accurate measure of the exchange-value of what I have produced, to reduce the particular object I have produced to a mere quantity, I have to have some standard of measure. Well, the standard of measure cannot be the utility of the item because how can I quantify the value of a book to me? Or of shoes? Maybe I like a book that you find stupid. Maybe the shoes I want are merely a luxury and no good for work. Or maybe you don’t like to wear shoes, but I need them for my work to keep my feet safe. Nor can the kind of labor done be a measure. Plumbing is a concrete form of labor, as is weaving, as is writing a computer program. I cannot compare them qualitatively to arrive as a universal standard of measure.

Since this is already a relation between human beings, I then have to find some common thread between all goods available for exchange. The exchange relation, to allow the indirect exchange of non-equivalent use-values, requires this quantification. The one common thread herein is that all of them have been worked up by human labor-power. Humans have spent some amount of time transforming nature and knowledge into goods. To even get a stick to sell in the market, I must pick up the stick. Nothing in nature can be appropriated without the expenditure of human labor.

As a result, the number of hours of labor power expended becomes the basis of the magnitude of value. And Marx is quite specific that it is labor-power, because it must be labor stripped of its qualities. Hence, alongside use-value and exchange-value, you have concrete and abstract labor. One of the things which a commodity has is a split, an internal division between its existence as a quality and as a pure quantity. In a market, to exchange qualitative non-equivalents, one has to be able to reduce them to their quantities. As such, labor must also be divisible between specific, concrete labor and abstract, value-producing labor.

NONE of this is given in nature. It is wholly a product of specific social relations between human beings, developed more or less blindly, over thousands of years of human history. None of this is inherent in any item of utility. Even more so, the use of an item is also made into a fetish in a market because the item is marketed as a specific commodity with a specific purpose. As a result, if I used a wooden door from the hardware store as a table, by placing it on milk crates, I would not be using a table. A table is something I buy as a commodity, in the market. Items, as both use and exchange values, obtain a fetish-like character and become not only objective things, but objective regardless of what I do with them. A door is a door because it is sold, exchanged, as the commodity ‘door’, regardless of how I use it. Already we find the products of our labor becoming objective and independent of how we use them, and as such they take on a life of their own, with requirements of their own, seemingly behind our backs.

What happens then when labor-power, the ability to labor, becomes a commodity? This is one of the key aspects of the capital-labor relation, the transformation of labor power into a commodity. Now the producers are no longer the owners of the means of producing, but are separated from the means of actualizing their labor, and therefore also from the ownership of commodities which they might sell on the market. The owner of labor power then becomes free in that dual sense: free from any means of production, and free to sell their labor power for a wage (to exchange their labor power, as a commodity, for money.) They must then sell their services, so to speak, to someone who owns means of production. The process of separating the producers from their means of production and their transformation into wage-laborers is a whole history of blood and misery, one which capital must constantly reproduce, day in and day out. The acme of capital is separation.

This is the foundation of the modern class struggle between labor and capital.

A further note, Marx speaks of Value, money, capital, etc as the value-form, the money-form, the commodity-form, etc. As such, these are forms of social relations, or the forms of appearance or mode of existence, of specific social relations between people. Forms of this sort are not mere illusions, but the actual way in which those relations appear or as they exist. You cannot separate form and content, but have to ask why this content takes this form. It is not enough to speak of alienated labor, but to have to grapple with alienated labor in a specific form, in the form of wage-labor and capital.

Suffice to say that all of this is a far cry from afraser’s muddle.

On point two, it is sufficient to quote Marx (albeit from an inadequate translation):

“What, first of all, practically concerns producers when they make an exchange, is the question, how much of some other product they get for their own? in what proportions the products are exchangeable? When these proportions have, by custom, attained a certain stability, they appear to result from the nature of the products, so that, for instance, one ton of iron and two ounces of gold appear as naturally to be of equal value as a pound of gold and a pound of iron in spite of their different physical and chemical qualities appear to be of equal weight. The character of having value, when once impressed upon products, obtains fixity only by reason of their acting and re-acting upon each other as quantities of value. These quantities vary continually, independently of the will, foresight and action of the producers. To them, their own social action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them. It requires a fully developed production of commodities before, from accumulated experience alone, the scientific conviction springs up, that all the different kinds of private labour, which are carried on independently of each other, and yet as spontaneously developed branches of the social division of labour, are continually being reduced to the quantitative proportions in which society requires them. And why? Because, in the midst of all the accidental and ever fluctuating exchange relations between the products, the labour time socially necessary for their production forcibly asserts itself like an over-riding law of Nature. The law of gravity thus asserts itself when a house falls about our ears.[29] The determination of the magnitude of value by labour time is therefore a secret, hidden under the apparent fluctuations in the relative values of commodities. Its discovery, while removing all appearance of mere accidentality from the determination of the magnitude of the values of products, yet in no way alters the mode in which that determination takes place.”

Please note that Marx here speaks of the “determination of the magnitude of value by labour time”. His argument is here that “labour time” gives us the magnitude of value. His point is not that one can measure this value, but that this process constantly reduces “different kinds of private labour” to “quantitative proportions.”

Point 3 is utter nonsense.

This is the exact opposite of Marx’s argument. Marx actually refutes this as robbing Peter to pay Paul. He explicitly assumes that commodities exchange at their value, as equivalents. Surplus value comes from the fact that the capitalist employs the labor power of the workers for more hours than are required to reproduce the laborer (reproduction, as afraser will get wrong, being socially and culturally determined, over the course of struggles and social changes, not as a question of bare subsitence.) So if it takes 5 hours to reproduce the laborer, the capitalist will only extract surplus-value by working the worker for 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 hours. Not all of that is profit, either, as some must go to expanding the scale of labor, raw materials and machinery, some of it will go to rent and some more will go to pay interest. As such, Surplus-value is NOT profit on that basis alone. What is more, profits are measurable, surplus-value is, broadly speaking not. Value indicate the reduction of human relations to quantifiability in abstraction from their qualitative aspects.

Value and price have an unstable relationship. Value and price may both shift and prices may be above or below or at value at any time and the value of any commodity may also rise or decline in relation to a lowering in the cost of production of labor (the reproduction of labor), raw materials or machinery.

As a result, Point 4 is virtually a slander.

Even if all commodities are sold and purchased at their exact Values, labor under capital is of necessity exploitation. This is the predicate of Marx’s whole discussion of the matter.

Ultimately, all one needs to do is to read Marx, slowly and thoughtfully, and put aside all of one’s gripes and preconceptions to see that wherever afraser strings two words together in this, he is in error.

redtwister
Sep 1 2005 15:57
MalFunction wrote:
greets

a bit baffled by the comment that castoriadis didn't criticise marx.

modern capitalism and revolution contains, amongst other things a detailed critique of the whole notion of "falling rate of profit" using the categories and theories propounded by marx in Capital.

the segments of "marxism and revolutionary theory" i have - history and revolution, and history as creation are also a critique of marx (and marxism). (not got the fate of marxism)

sadly i haven't got the full text of marxism and revolutionary theory as that's in the imaginary Institution of society, which i don't have (anyone a spare copy?)

no idea about how much of the marxism castoriaids critiques is down to lenin and trotsky and others - have never read anything by them.

mal

Actually, Castoriadas (and after him the SI) felt that capital had resolved the problem of crises and that the real problem was of bureaucratization (and in the case of the SI, the immiseration of the quality of life that went along with an abundance of commodities.)

Clearly, after 1968 and the beginings of the monetary crisis, and the subsequent slide into generalized global economic crisis in the 1970's, Castoriadas was wrong (as was the SI). Having abandoned Marx, Castoriadas could not be troubled with this mistake in his analysis.

More importantly, economic crises play a decreasingly important role in Marx's work after 1857. Nor does Marx have a "falling rate of profit theory of crisis". This is one of the tendencies in capital that is a part of economic crises, but Marx gave up on any direct relationship between economic crisis and social upheval after 1857.

A good discussion of this is Simon Clarke's Marx's Theory of Crisis, which also discusses the fetishizing of economic crisis that began with Engels and became such a big deal with Luxemburg, Lenin, Hilferding, et al. For my part, Pannekoek's critique of Grossman is still an adequate statement of a properly Marxist notion of crisis.

cheers,

chris

redtwister
Sep 1 2005 16:07
afraser wrote:
Revol68 and Knightrose are right and I am wrong on the "iron law of wages": Marx only used that phrase when criticising it.

However, he did believe in an equivalent theory which gave similar results to the "iron law of wages" - sometimes called "immiserisation" or "subsistence theory of wages", although I don't think Marx himself used those terms.

It was an important part of Marx's theory, Engels emphasises it in his review of Capital where he quotes Marx from Chapter 25:

Quote:
The greater the social wealth ... the greater is the relative surplus-population, or industrial-reserve-army. But the greater this reserve-army in proportion to the active (regularly employed) labour-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated (permanent) surplus-population, or strata of workers, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labour. The more extensive, finally, the lazarus-layers of the working class, and the industrial reserve-army, the greater is official pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation. [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/reviews-capital/dwochenblatt.htm]

Given that, I wonder if Marx's denunciations of the "iron law of wages" were affected as a means to attack Proudhon and Lassalle when they were his rivals for leadership and control?

[edited to correct spelling]

No idea what you are getting at here. This phrase is all about what happens in relation to what are certainly flexible and changing dynamics.

"the greater is the mass of a consolidated (permanent) surplus-population, or strata of workers, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labour."

This phrase actually indicates that the condition of the surplus-population is in INVERSE ratio to its torment of labor.

redtwister
Sep 1 2005 18:21
afraser wrote:
Quote:
Does LTV hold some value [ooh, the pun] as a method, albeit an imperfect one, of being a part of an analysis?

Welllllll....in a grotesquely simplistic sense, yes. Marx's analysis was throughout a concoction of half truths, rather than outright lies (which makes it especially irritating). Marxian LTV strictly interpreted: no, no value. But, being less strict, yes, labour is the thing that counts, although land and natural resources are also important: especially oil, but even more especially alienable land ownership, which is the source of most money creation. The important point is: who has the right to own land alienably - society as a whole, or private individuals? That is obscured by any strict Marxian LTV. But that capitalists have no right to any surplus value/profit, that is agreed by both Marx and I, albeit I am somewhat more sophisticated: for me, workers own the right to that created by their own labour, while society as a whole owns the right to that created by land, natural resources, loaned money. So, more sophisticated, but also simpler, easier to explain to the ordinary people, because purely a matter of natural justice, no made up ‘scientific socialism’ required.

Quote:
It's also a wee bit of a leap to disagree with some of Marx's theories and then to reject everything he ever did ever.

You are right, I am guilty of some exaggeration in that. But not much. Condition of the English Working Class is a good history, and an earlier poster said Marx had good things to say about atheism. But they are not really the main points, when people think about Marx.

Quote:
I detest Marx-lovers but seriously, do you think the socialist movement would have been better off without Marx?

Yes - of course, even. The First International would have continued. Malatesta and Kropotkin would not have led the anarchist movement into anarcho-communism. The SPD (which until 1959 was as Marxist as any Leninist) would not have backed the destruction of the German revolution in 1919. Makhno would not have fought and lost alone. Stalin would be unknown. Hitler would have been beaten in the election of 1932. Spanish Stalinists would not have crushed the revolution in Spain, and Franco would have lost in his turn. Pol Pot would not have constructed his pyramids of human skulls. The Peoples Republic of China would not have adopted 'Socialism with Chinese Characteristics', nor would it have crushed its students under tank tracks. Socialism in Scotland and the rest of the West would not have been plagued with elitist Marxists: the UCS sit in, for example, would have been genuinely revolutionary and so succeeded, and the SSP would not exist in its present, regicidal, form, but would be part of a mass movement.

The socialist movement, and the whole enlightenment project, took at wrong turn when Marx was favoured over Proudhon. The lights went out then, but we can switch them back on now.

Jesus, people are now turning to Wahabism as the only serious alternative to neo-liberalism, because of the Marxists, and the damage they did.

Is this what passes as an analysis?

Talk about idealism of the purest water: 150 years of an amazingly rich, complex and painful history is reduced to "Marx's evil ideas poisoned the noble working class movement". Brilliant!

Not only is this vapid and contentless, it is intolerale elitism, as if the workers were simply dupes of an evil mind propagating an evil ideology. Thank Proudhon we have you to explain it "simply" to the "ordinary people."

Even worse, it is in effect an apology for capitalism because the evil communists are to blame for everything, and without them capital would simply have been overthrown. Better yet, we could have had your petty commodity producer capitalism a la Proudhon, the Physiocrats and Rousseau!

Truly, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Chris

afraser
Sep 1 2005 21:26

Knightrose:

Your are right, nothing has exchange value unless human labour is put into its production. But land and natural resources are often as important as the labour input. For example, oil is easily extracted from Saudi Arabia, with very little labour, but it takes huge amounts of labour to get a North Sea field running - same oil comes out, same exchange value (I guess), but very different labour input. Although failure to define 'value' (see below) renders any dispute on this meaningless.

Volin:

Who can know? But I think an International would have appeared even without Marx. Bakunin had already set up a rival international at the same time as the real First International was set up, and, after the split, anarchists kept their half of the international going for several years.

Anarchism may have swung to anarcho-communism without Marx, but I am not sure it would: Proudhonism may well have remained the defining intellectual idea. Anarchist evolution may have gone no further than, at most, Bakunins Collectivism - "Communism I abhor ... I am a Collectivist not a Communist", his Catechism is obviously non Communist: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bakunin/catechism.html.

It is possible that Pol Pot would have picked some other, any other, ideology for justification. But Marxism fitted his needs so well, he might have had a struggle finding willing recruits without it, even with the American bombing to help enrage people.

You are right: it isn't disputed that labour is a source of value. However failure to define 'value' (see below) renders any dispute on this meaningless.

I do believe that socialism should be based on ethics and (especially) rights, although, that said, there is nothing wrong with then going on to analyse the objective conditions and transformation of society.

Redtwister, what a post! I'm genuinely awestruck. Except....

Quote:
Marx, following Hegel, does not attempt to lay out schoolbook definitions of concepts disconnected from their usage and to the relations to which they relate.

Right, don't define your concepts, way to go. I mean, _definitions_ they're for schoolbooks, right? Fortunately for people like me who prefer logic to Hegalianisms, Redtwister was able to save the day with a definition:

Quote:
Value indicate[s] the reduction of human relations to quantifiability in abstraction from their qualitative aspects.

Well, that's that clear then.

How about a real, definitions-and-all, statement of the LTV, that we can then debate here? I gave my understanding of it, but am told I got it all wrong. Volin also gave a statement of the LTV (middle of page 4), but I'm pretty sure an orthodox Marxist would find that wrong too. So what is the LTV? I'm thinking of a competition like: "Complete in X words or less the following sentence: Marx's labour theory of value is: .... Answers on a postcard to libcom.org". Answers along the lines of: "Fools, you can only begin to contemplate the mysteries of the LTV by re-reading Das Kapital many times (in a good translation), slowly, while meditating in a mountain in Tibet, and on mind altering drugs...", just won't cut it with me (although still in a minority of 2, so what do I know...).

Engels wrote a review (really a summary) of Das Kapital for the Demokratisches Wochenblatt in 1868:

Quote:
We will pass over a number of further excellent investigations of more theoretical interest and will pause only at the final chapter which deals with the accumulation or amassing of capital. Here it is first shown that the capitalist mode of production ... continually produces the poverty of the workers; thereby it is provided for a constant regeneration of ... the great mass of the workers, who are quantum of the means of subsistence which at best just suffices to keep them able-bodied and to bring up a new generation of able-bodied proletarians. [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/reviews-capital/dwochenblatt.htm]

Marx must have known of that 'review' of Engels, have agreed with it, have agreed with its especial emphasis of his iron-law-of-wages-like subsistence theory of wages. It's been standard Marxism from that day since. How come it’s being questioned here?

Anyway, I'm thinking of bringing some pettily produced capitalist commodities to market, anyone want to buy some? Special two doses of pettiness for the 'value' of one, on offer this week only.

Lazy Riser
Sep 2 2005 00:39

Hi

redtwister, those were super posts.

Quote:
Actually, Castoriadis (and after him the SI) felt that capital had resolved the problem of crises… …Castoriadas was wrong… …More importantly, economic crises play a decreasingly important role in Marx's work after 1857

Love it. So it’s folly to reject Marxist notions of capitalist crisis, but sensible not to become too attached to the literal detail. After all, Marx didn’t.

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Nor does Marx have a "falling rate of profit theory of crisis"… …Marx gave up on any direct relationship between economic crisis and social upheval after 1857.

I’m sure no-one would dream of contending with you on this. I can’t help think that this is the road to a theological discussion of the true interpretation of the word of the great prophet for its own sake. As you point out, Marx’s ideas and emphasis developed over the course of his career. It’s a bit like Elvis, you get to pick your favourite incarnation, Viva-Las-Vegas or Blue-Hawaii, the humanitarian, the authoritarian, the fluffy philosopher or the cantankerous economist.

redtwister, what do you make of comrade knightrose’s ealier comments on Castoriadis?

Quote:
his plans for an equal wages society amounted to little more than a type of libertarian capitalism.

Love

LR

knightrose
Sep 2 2005 07:43

What I mean by it is that any attempt to conceive of a society which retains a wages system must inevitably run the risk of recreating a market (in the long run).

I fail to understand why CC never went along with the notion of abolishing the wages system. Why the need to keep wages and hence buying and selling?

888
Sep 2 2005 08:37

Wasn't Panekoek's proposal a bit like that as well?

knightrose
Sep 2 2005 09:44

dunno. I've read his council communism and didn't see that in it.

I know ideas about labour time vouchers were popular with old time marxists. Doesn't make them right though!

Actually, it's one thing to consider how a revolutionary transition from one society to another may work, quite another to think that short term expedients for distributing scarce resources would continue over into a world of communist abundance!

Lazy Riser
Sep 2 2005 11:05

Hi

Quote:
Why the need to keep wages and hence buying and selling?

Otherwise people have to apply to a bureaucracy to get the stuff they want made. With money and markets people get to make rational decisions about what they want and how much it’s going to cost. The alternative is barter and commissars.

Quote:
it's one thing to consider how a revolutionary transition from one society to another may work, quite another to think that short term expedients for distributing scarce resources would continue over into a world of communist abundance!

I’m not so sure. The transition towards and the actual realisation of cornucopian socialism are woven together by a golden thread. Even if we transcend money, I would expect “open markets” to operate under communist abundance, after all what would we have to lose? Plus we’d get videogames and pornography even if the commissar was really uptight about them.

Ducks fire.

Chris

Spartacus
Sep 2 2005 13:42
Quote:
The alternative is barter and commissars.

i think you'll find there's another alternative. it's called communism.

knightrose
Sep 2 2005 14:30
Quote:
With money and markets people get to make rational decisions about what they want and how much it’s going to cost.

Yyeah - that's what Maggie Thatcher kept on telling us.

It's a system we know that works - it's called capitalism.