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
Sep 2 2005 17:42

Hi

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

Where does Marx sign up to transcending money? How does non-monetary communism propose we eliminate its use? does it rely on some kind of capitalist crisis?

Quote:
yeah - that's what Maggie Thatcher kept on telling us.

I think Adam Smith shares your view of LTV more than afraser does, does that make you wrong? No. You’ll have to do better than that knightrose. Was Castoriadis a Thatcherite? Was Brinton? What was Brinton’s view anyway? I’d appreciate your insight.

Try going next door and convincing your neighbour to join a political movement that will take their wages away and allocate goods based on democratic rationing rather than letting them spend their money as they see fit. See how far it gets you.

Love

Chris

MalFunction
Sep 5 2005 09:23

greets

as luck would have it have received both brinton's "for workers power" and castoriadis "imaginary institution of society" in the past couple of days.

so could you put a simple question as what you want brinton's answer to?

(the brinton has no index so may take a while to find answers!) can also search back issues of solidarity back to 1970 (but issue/page refs might help!)

personally find talk of a communist cornucopia doesn't square with an ecological awareness, unless the cornucopia means we learn to live with little material wealth.

i can see that small communities / communes / collectives can do easily without money for internal transactions. also without any guarantee of payment / system of agreed equivalence, that a money system would be diifcult to sustain in a decentralised libertarian comm /anarcho world. beyond that there would still need to be a some forms of exchange for surpluses to be distributed within a region and possibly over greater distances - here some form of direct "barter" at community level might be applicable. so a world without money is feasible provided people can work / consume collectively.

ironically an individualistic society would seem to need money for its transactions. one can however have money and not have capitalism - that is many societies have done so in the past, but it might be more difficult to do so in reverse (ie go from a money society to one without).

none of which has much to do with marx or castoriadis or anyone really. sorry. continue ..

mal

rich
Sep 5 2005 13:47

a) I judge Marx on his lack of understanding of the nature of power in society - his advocacy of dictatorship of the proletariat was essentially naive.

b) His personal actions against Bakunin were dishonourable.

c) His influence pushed the workers movement toward the dead end of statism, without his considerable influence perhaps it would have been different.

So, I would prefer that he had not existed.

Who gives a fuck about the labour theory of value? Isn't it obvious people are being exploited? A lot of people seem to spend a lot of time on these pretty theories, I don't see the benefit. From the outside it's equivalent to Christians doing Bible study. What's it got to do with the price of fish?

Ed
Sep 5 2005 14:21
rich wrote:
a) I judge Marx on his lack of understanding of the nature of power in society - his advocacy of dictatorship of the proletariat was essentially naive.

Hmm, perhaps but Marx's ideas on class rule differed from time to time. Sometimes, like in Civil War in France, he argued for bottom-up rule by the class, at others he argued for the rule of a state. So he wasn't perfect, but then again, no one is. The point is to take the good bits and leave the rest.

rich wrote:
b) His personal actions against Bakunin were dishonourable.

To be fair, old Mikhail was hardly an angel either. He had his own political faction which was controlled internally by a secret group because Bakunin didn't trust the ideological purity wider group. This smaller group was then in turn controlled by an even smaller group for the same reason. Anyway, had Bakunin got control within the IWMA I think, in practice anyway, the workers' movement would have been far more authoritarian than it was under Marx's influence. And ends and means are tied, are they not?

rich wrote:
I would prefer that he had not existed.

That's actually a load of bollocks. I mean, most of Bakunin's ideas were based on Marx (in fact, it was Bakunin who was commissioned to translate Capital into Russian). In fact, anyone who is a libertarian communist in the tradition of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Malatesta, Makhno, Goldman etc owe at least part of their political heritage to Marx. You can't escape this.

rich
Sep 5 2005 14:47

The idea that someone in the past could suddenly not exist is speculative - I just see that if there was one less influential authoritarian socialist the workers movement could have taken a more constructive direction. It doesn't mean that I think he has had no influence over the development of anarchist politics!

Ed
Sep 5 2005 16:09
rich wrote:
The idea that someone in the past could suddenly not exist is speculative - I just see that if there was one less influential authoritarian socialist the workers movement could have taken a more constructive direction. It doesn't mean that I think he has had no influence over the development of anarchist politics!

confused What does this mean? You reckon the workers' movement would be better off without him and his ideological influence but you agree that he has had a profound impact on anarchism? What do you think anarchism is without the Marxism?

Without Marx, anarchism would've disapeared down the dead-end road of that prick Proudhon and other individualist cock-ends. Oh wait, that's exactly where they are. Well, if it wasn't for Marx, they would have got here 150 years ago and the workers of the Spanish Civil War would've shot the anarchists for stealing from the communes to feed their ketamine habits.

red star

Lazy Riser
Sep 5 2005 18:25

Hi

Quote:
From the outside it's equivalent to Christians doing Bible study. What's it got to do with the price of fish?

The price of fish goes up when Christians study bibles, Marx slips to 3.5.

Love

Chris

Bodach gun bhrigh
Sep 5 2005 20:03

Why jump to the defence of Marx? He did advocate state socialism, and effectively acted to promote it by ensuring the split in the International so that the German workers became isolated from the more libertarian southern sections. Now, if Bakunin said at the time that State socialism would be a disaster, which it was, why support Marx over him? Bakunin may have been a closet dictator, but you wouldn't get any followers of his trying to set up scientific socialist states. And if Lenin and all the rest decided to use Marx as the basis for their theories, why should Marx get off so lightly? It surely can't be coincidence that Marxism became a State religion. There is a lot of good Marxist philosophy about, but that's what it is, philosophy, the answers are out there, you don't necessarily need a philosophy degree to become an anarchist. There are good bits to Marxism, but a lot of bad bits too. Philosophical freedom is as essential as physical freedom if you want to build a free society

Spartacus
Sep 5 2005 20:45

actually it was mostly engels and his shite reading of capital that lead to state socialism, social democracy and all that stuff. and philosophy is the weakest part of marxism! capital is a detailed study of how capital works, obviously it can be used in different ways, and if you read it from the point of view of capital you'll end up with a disaster, but if you read it from the pov of the working class then hopefully you can find useful strategies for attacking capital. obviously you shouldn't use it as a bible, but just to dismiss it on the basis of the readings of it by the likes of lenin and engels, which completely miss most of the fundamental elements of it is ridiculous. it's like dismissing einstein's theories just because it lead to nuclear weapons.

Spartacus
Sep 5 2005 21:12

no. philosophy sucks whoever it's from, really. but i meant marxist philosophy, rather than marx's philosophy, which are generally fairly different things when you're arguing with people who equate all marxism with leninism.

Spartacus
Sep 5 2005 21:48
revol68 wrote:
well the problem with Marxs philosophy is that it is a kind of anti philosophy and as such spawned sociology,

man, and i was starting to actually LIKE marx, you had to go and spoil it didn't you...

and why should i use up valuable japanese film watching time to read marx's philosophy when cleaver does all that connecting of it to a reading of capital for me?

afraser
Sep 5 2005 21:51
Quote:
b) His personal actions against Bakunin were dishonourable.

Although it worked both ways: http://www.marxists.org/history/international/iwma/documents/1872/hague-commission/bureau.htm

Even in the 19th Century, were you really meant to end death threats with "I have the honour to be, dear Sir, your devoted servant..." I mean, I'm all for politeness and all, but in the context of the subject matter?

Quote:
What's it [the LTV] got to do with the price of fish?

A Marxist would argue that the price of fish is irrelevant, that the 'value' of fish is all that matters, even though value is not only immeasurable, it is also indefinable, because definitions are for schoolbooks, rather than the higher minds who only want to contemplate Hegelian mysteries.

Wish I was a fish seller in those times, could have fleeced the Marxists all day: "Yes, your excellency, my fish are indeed each priced at 30 kopecks more than the going rate - but, fear not, for each fish contains 7 silver roubles more 'value' than the value stored in your money...

Apologies for the facetiousness, but my belief is that any sensible definition of value would be that value is marginal utility, and is therefore unconnected to labour input.

Quote:
What do you think anarchism is without the Marxism?

An anarchism deprived of martyrs?

Anarchism may have avoided communism had it not been exposed to Marxism, have adopted serious alternatives to capitalism along the lines of http://afraser.com/beyond_an_ideal.htm.

Quote:
… that prick Proudhon

Would that be the Proudhon who founded anarchism? The Proudhon who replied to Marx in 1846:

Quote:
...for God’s sake, after having demolished all the a priori dogmatisms, do not let us in our turn dream of indoctrinating the people; do not let us fall into the contradiction of your compatriot Martin Luther, who, having overthrown Catholic theology, at once set about, with excommunication and anathema, the foundation of a Protestant theology. For the last three centuries Germany has been mainly occupied in undoing Luther’s shoddy work; do not let us leave humanity with a similar mess to clear up as a result of our efforts. ... let us give the world an example of learned and far-sighted tolerance, but let us not, merely because we are at the head of a movement, make ourselves the leaders of a new intolerance, let us not pose as the apostles of a new religion, even if it be the religion of logic, the religion of reason. ... On that condition, I will gladly enter your association. Otherwise — no! [http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/letters/46_05_17.htm]

Read it and weep. Would that the effect of Marx's shoddy work have been so little as Luther's.

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 15:36

Sorry, been keeping my eye on New Orleans, not this.

Hmmm... lots of the old axes being ground here.

There are two different problems in the discussion, one is clarifying theoretical issues, the other is correcting mistakes.

On the mistakes

Marx and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Does anyone know how many times Marx used that phrase and in what context? He used it somewhere between 7-10 times, and most of those in relation to the Blanquists. Marx still used the term in its classical sense, of the dictatorship of the class, and he contrasted it to Blanqui's usage of a small band of revolutionaries taking over the state, ie a dictatorship in the more modern sense. For a decent overview, please review http://marxmyths.org/hal-draper/article2.htm

Marx is responsible for Social Democracy, Lenin, etc.

That makes little or no sense. Marx's work was adopted and mangled by a political movement in Germany that had its foundations in Lasalle and his machinations with Bismarck. Rather, as a thinker, no one had Marx's stature in the workers' movement of the time and in trying to grapple with capital, no one else provided comparable intellectual weapons. Not Bakunin, not Proudhon, no Duhring. But it was Engels who really played th key role in making his version of Marx's ideas the standard of the Second International. And even Engels revolted against the increasing miserableness of th Second international, all of which was pretty much repressed by Kautsky and Co. By that time, "Marxism" had taken on a life of its own, but not one which was uncontested, from both the Right and from the Left. You can only talk about Marxism as authoritarian if you completely ignore the councilists, Luxemburg, young Lukacs, the Left communists (German, Dutch and Italian), and their various descendants, few of whom were statists (mostly the Bordigists, and even then only with qualifications.)

But this begs the question of Marx's relationship to "the state" and to political power, which incidentally are not exactly the same thing. Marx's writing on the state is overwhelmingly that it is an alienated form of social relations bound to class society (he refers in the German ideology to the state as the 'illusory community', taking the place of actual community.) The rubber meets the road at the problem of the transition to communist society, and if one carefully reads Marx's comments on the state over time, he never glorifies it and in fact attacks the Lassalseans for worshipping the state (both in personal letters and in the Critique of the Gotha Program), just as he critiques the Blanquists for treating dictatorship as a question of state power instead of class power.

see Paresh Chattopadhyay's article. He is a meticuous scholar on these matters with no axe to grind in relation to anarchism. http://marxmyths.org/paresh-chattopadhyay/article.htm

also http://libcom.org/library/freedom-subjectivity-lenin-philosophy-cyril-smith?PHPSESSID=5feb89d4442506dacd82dea76a3e063c

and I genuinely suggest people take a careful read of Marx's Concpectus on Bakunin, which even though only margin notes, is interesting.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm

None of which means that one is obliged to agree with Marx and certainly that one should not try to import Marx's political positions to today, as such a move would ignore that they were concrete positions based on a specific situation. So must ours be.

Which bridges us to the theoretical problems.

What does value have to do with the price of fish? This comes back to money and markets, now being defended by anarchists (and we have the same kind of people, call themselves 'Market socialists') and this betrays a complete lack of understanding of what money is. You think money is a medium of exchange only, but then you do not ask about exchange. You don't ask why the circulation of goods takes place the way it does, through exchange, via money. You essentially leave the core of commodity production untouched. Marx does not. The problem ultimately is not about what Value has to do with the price of fish, but why fish have a price.

Marx's discussion of value is a discussion of why social relations take this form, instead of simply assuming the naturalness of money, etc.

More on money and communism later.

cheers,

chris

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 15:52
afraser wrote:
Quote:
What's it [the LTV] got to do with the price of fish?

A Marxist would argue that the price of fish is irrelevant, that the 'value' of fish is all that matters, even though value is not only immeasurable, it is also indefinable, because definitions are for schoolbooks, rather than the higher minds who only want to contemplate Hegelian mysteries.

Wish I was a fish seller in those times, could have fleeced the Marxists all day: "Yes, your excellency, my fish are indeed each priced at 30 kopecks more than the going rate - but, fear not, for each fish contains 7 silver roubles more 'value' than the value stored in your money...

Apologies for the facetiousness, but my belief is that any sensible definition of value would be that value is marginal utility, and is therefore unconnected to labour input.

Well, this is quite brilliant. The logic of the market is presented here as profound wisdom and then a core point of neo-classical aka marginalist economics is cited. Why isn't this reactionary, exactly? Are you an anarcho-capitalist? Really, this means there is oppression and poverty, but really no exploitation. I welcome you to show otherwise.

Aside from that, yes definitions are for schoolbooks because life itself tends to exceed all definitions. To attempt to arrest the flux of life in your isolated brain leads to all kinds of crap. Marx is trying to show how we get these ideas, that they in fact are the 'correct' ideas of a society based on markets, money, and exchange.

As for the masters of the universe who understand our exploitation with great clarity in all its obvious simplicity, you are clearly gods and we are mere mortals. Thankfully you act in a fully anarchist/communist fashion everyday and know exactly what to do. You never act in accordance with market relations. However as for the rest of us, it is important to grapple with why commodities appear as more important than people, why we accept that dead rules living labor, wy we accept the rule of money, why people in New orleans didn't commandeer buses and trains, why people can talk of it being a "natural disaster."

chris

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 16:05
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
revol68 wrote:
well the problem with Marxs philosophy is that it is a kind of anti philosophy and as such spawned sociology,

man, and i was starting to actually LIKE marx, you had to go and spoil it didn't you...

and why should i use up valuable japanese film watching time to read marx's philosophy when cleaver does all that connecting of it to a reading of capital for me?

I would not refer to Marx's work as sociology in the same way as I would not refer to it as political economy. Marx was not trying to establish a discipline, but to show how the ways in which we operate, the ideas we have, the way this world presents itself, is a product of specific relations between people that do not appear as relations between people, that are practical relations that we create, but which appear as 'objective' and independent of our activity. His work is primarily negative and critical and he leaves the construction of positive alternatives to the practical self-activity of the class which has 'radical chains'.

The honor for spawning sociology proper belongs to Saint-Simon and Comte, who saw it as a science of social engineering, something Marx had great distaste for.

Chris

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 16:17

Money and vouchers are not the same thing.

First of all, a key aspect of money is that it is a form of social relations developing within exchange relations. Money indicates that an accurate accounting of the human labor involved in production is handled indirectly, behind our backs, by the market. Vouchers would depend on the conscious accounting for the expenditure of human productive labor. That is already a direct break with money.

cf Chapter 3, footnote 1 of Capital

"1. The question — Why does not money directly represent labour-time, so that a piece of paper may represent, for instance, x hours’ labour, is at bottom the same as the question why, given the production of commodities, must products take the form of commodities? This is evident, since their taking the form of commodities implies their differentiation into commodities and money. Or, why cannot private labour — labour for the account of private individuals — be treated as its opposite, immediate social labour? I have elsewhere examined thoroughly the Utopian idea of "labour-money” in a society founded on the production of commodities (l. c., p. 61, seq.). On this point I will only say further, that Owen’s “labour-money,” for instance, is no more “money” than a ticket for the theatre. Owen pre-supposes directly associated labour, a form of production that is entirely in consistent with the production of commodities. The certificate of labour is merely evidence of the part taken by the individual in the common labour, and of his right to a certain portion of the common produce destined for consumption. But it never enters into Owen’s head to pre-suppose the production of commodities, and at the same time, by juggling with money, to try to evade the necessary conditions of that production."

In other words, we could have mechanisms of the circulation and distriution of goods that would not involve money or markets or exchange relations. What that would look like isn't something we can solve, IMO, in our heads, but only in practice and maybe differently in different conditions for a relatively lengthy period.

As such, Marx's labor-tickets are the very opposite of money.

However, at bottom of this is the fear of 'the state' and "bureaucracy" (unlike markets, except in petty bourgeois fantasies???) Certainly, the organization of such a system would indeed entail all kinds of difficulties and require many failures as well as successes. The problem is how to retain class power long enough to make those mistakes without having another devolution into state capitalism.

If anyone has an answer other than anarcho-capitalism, please tell us. It would make this whole revolution thing much easier.

Chris

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 16:32
Lazy Riser wrote:

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

I tend to agree with knightrose. Market socialism, anarcho-capitalism aka market anarchism, its all crap IMO. Dreams of a petty producer utopia, and miserably meager dreams at that.

And a society of abundance for Marx and Engels (on this they agreed), does not mean the endless production of worthless shit. I expect that abundance would first and foremost means the end of all kinds of anti-human production, from military and repressive items to massively wasteful suburban sprawl, to casinos and yachts and luxury cruise lines to advertising and marketing campaigns to the misuse of resources and raping of the earth to the severe reduction of cars, etc. We could have a very high standard of living with a much more ecologically sound way of producing, and still retain a very high level of technology so that we are not prattling on about some primitivist nonsense. I tend to think that people would end up wanting many fewer 'things', which today are the signification of being a 'worthy' or 'valuable' person, and spend much more time doing stuff (and maybe much of it on a different scale, where smaller in many instances, while less "efficient", is simply better for quality of life.)

in the abscence of money and markets, the priority is what is best for people and how much time they want to spend working, ie quality of life. Ie, allowing people to fully develop their individualities.

cheers,

chris

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 17:37
afraser wrote:
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.

And as a result, Arabian oil is MUCH cheaper to produce, and therefore possibly more profitable. However, the price issue raises its head here because prices tend to be established on a global scale by global markets for a commodity like oil. They all have to sell at a certain price, but operations where oil is easier to extract for the same quantity and quality is going to have more value and more surplus value in particular.

However, will it be more profitable? That depends on the market, on the conditions of distribution, on how much of that surplus value has to be paid out in wages (if Arabian wages were much higher, which in this case they certainly are not, then it still might be cheaper in the North Atlantic), on how much rent and interest has to be paid out, etc. Now because prices are formed in the market, independent of control (by which I mean that the prices of one or another commodity may be controlled, but those people have to purchase commodities whose prices are not controlled and if all prices were controlled, where would the market be?), this all happens behind the backs of people. Plus, capitalists do not do their accounting this way, they look at capitalization and inputs/outputs. So between the opaque and untraceable nature of markets and the accounting methods of capital, it is impossible to actually be able to MEASURE VALUE.

Quote:
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.

Marx did NOT set up the first International. Unlike Bakunin's "international", the First International was created by English and French workers (with many a Proudhonist involved.) The British and German workers invited Marx to attend. This is basic history of the International.

Quote:
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.

Marxism had become the language of national liberation because 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" did not work too convincingly at that point. The adoption of Stalinim as an ideology had to do with much more than the infinite power you grant Marx in making him the devil.

Quote:
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.

Well, that explains a lot. Ethics and rights? Whose Ethics? Whose rights? Ethics based on what? And what are rights? Are you saying this with a straight face?

Quote:
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.

First, I said nothing about doing away with definitions, but avoiding generating definitions abstracted from contexts and human relationships. Any definition at some point collapses. If one tries to make hermetically sealed definitions good for all situations, it will fall apart because definitions are always efinitions of movements and processs, which are dynamic. As such, our categories have to be fluid, live, and impermanent. But to someone pronouncing himself an anarchist based on Ethics and Rights, I am sure this is incomprehensible, hence your failure to accurately read what i said in quite simple terms.

Second, my definition is exactly of that sort, and what I mean by Value will not hold for all situations, such that a discussion of ethical valus cannot be confused with Value. Nor is the category of Value beyond dispute. i welcome a challenge not merely to the statement that labor is the source of value, but that labor and value are valid categories.

Quote:
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...).

First, cite where Marx uses the phrase "Labor Theory of Value". IMO, it is a misnomer (a value theory of labor might be a more accurate way to put it), and one Marx never used to the best of my knowledge, but an eminently clear and precise and non-mystical fellow like yourself can certainly find a citation. Or are you just repeating other people without ever having read Marx? Or do we no longer have to read someone, just second and third-hand commentaries? Ah, post-modernism, you have done your work well...

Secondly, I'm sorry it doesn't work how you want it to work. Not my problem. But if you want to have a serious discussion, you have to be willing to be serious about it. I'm not saying you need to be a scholar, but be ready to do some homework. Then, even if you are wrong or right, you know why and can be non-doctrinaire. So far, however, all you are doing is repeating rubbish.

Thirdly, there's a reason I don't speak about Proudhon. Never read him seriously. The little i read didn't impress me, but that's me. However I don't claim to distill him into 4 points and then tell one tall tale after another and turn him into the Anti-Christ.

Fourthly, you don't want to debate Capital. Really. You don't want to do the work necessary. You want to prate on about the Devil and then regurgitate marginalism, which is to say vulgar economics.

As for the Engels thing, did Marx and Engels have to discuss and agree on everything? You want to know what i think Marx thought of Engels' grasp of Capital? See Cyril smith's article at this very website's library

http://libcom.org/library/engels-and-marx-critique-political-economy-cyril-smith?PHPSESSID=6130232b8ecb1a19e7890351a70260d2

Chris

ps - sorry, too many posts today. My head has really been elsewhere trying to digest the crisis in New Orleans. Besides, this beats doing my job. I'll shut up now.

redtwister
Sep 6 2005 17:38

Jeez, I really did have my panties in a bunch, didn't I? sorry... embarrassed

Lazy Riser
Sep 6 2005 18:46

Hi

Quote:
…casinos and yachts and luxury cruise lines…advertising and marketing campaigns

No bookies? No boats? No propaganda? That’s a grey little world you're building for us there comrade.

If you dish out vouchers, how are you going to stop people gambling with them? or using them to buy naughty things, like yachts or “advertising”.

Quote:
Jeez, I really did have my panties in a bunch, didn't I? sorry...

Don’t worry my friend, you’re a little bit uptight, but a riveting read.

LR

Lazy Riser
Sep 6 2005 19:05

Hi

Quote:
Really, this means there is oppression and poverty, but really no exploitation. I welcome you to show otherwise.

That’s hard. I’ll see what I can do, but I’ll need time. At least we agree that the problem with capitalism is our economic insecurity and political disenfranchisement.

Value Tokens and Competing Teams are neutral technologies. Non-technically put, these things are money and markets. Phobia against money and markets is just an extension of authoritarian Judeo-Christian morality which reveres the stink of effort and sacrifice. Authoritarian social conditioning is the driver of irrational behaviour and accounts for…

Quote:
people in New orleans didn't commandeer buses and trains

…better than a little competition and a few glorified IOUs.

However, I do accept that by the time you have fully infused money with an ethical abhorrence of capitalism, it’s sensible to take your perspective. If you think it’s tainted, I wouldn’t force you to use it.

In fact I’ll look after yours for you, if you like.

LR

afraser
Sep 6 2005 23:28

Has been a stimulating discussions so far. My rejection of Lazy Riser's warnings that anti-Marxist polemics would not be worth the effort has come back to haunt me, with the requirement now that no recourse be made to secondary sources, that Marx be quoted directly, even in issues long accepted as fundamental to Marxist dogma.

Three assertions can be rebutted on that basis:

1) That Marx did not assert a theory of immiserisation of the proletariat akin to the iron law of wages.

Marx did not use the phrase "iron law of wages" (except critically). He did write:

Quote:
The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and, therefore, also the absolute mass of the proletariat and the productiveness of its labour, the greater is the industrial reserve army. The same causes which develop the expansive power of capital, develop also the labour-power at its disposal. The relative mass of the industrial reserve army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But the greater this reserve army in proportion to the active labour-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated surplus-population, 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.

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 25]

Quote:
Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 32]

Which is a theory of immiserisation of the proletariat akin to the iron law of wages, although the first quote has already been rejected as implying immiserisation, so maybe it's just my reading which is at fault.

2) That Marx did not assert a Labour theory of value.

Marx did not use the phrase "labour theory of value". He did write:

Quote:
We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, or the labour time socially necessary for its production. Each individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be considered as an average sample of its class. Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be produced in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the labour time necessary for the production of the one is to that necessary for the production of the other. “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labour time.”

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1]

Quote:
In general, the greater the productiveness of labour, the less is the labour time required for the production of an article, the less is the amount of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is its value; and vice versâ, the less the productiveness of labour, the greater is the labour time required for the production of an article, and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, therefore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it.

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1]

Quote:
the magnitude of the value of a commodity represents only the quantity of labour embodied in it

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1]

Quote:
all commodities, as values, are realised human labour, and therefore commensurable, that their values can be measured by one and the same special commodity, and the latter be converted into the common measure of their values, i.e., into money. Money as a measure of value, is the phenomenal form that must of necessity be assumed by that measure of value which is immanent in commodities, labour-time.

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 3]

Which is a labour theory of value.

3) That Marx only used the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" 7-10 times - and they don't count because he didn't really mean it.

It wasn't me who brought up the dictatorship of the proletariat - naively thinking as I did that that would be a settled question, that only the non-political ideas of Marx would remain now - so should not necessarily be my job to answer this, but it is worth quoting one of the links Redtwister provided:

Quote:
Bakunin: So the result is: guidance of the great majority of the people by a privileged minority of former workers, who however, as soon as they have become representatives or governors of the people, cease to be workers and look down on the whole common workers' world from the height of the state. They will no longer represent the people, but themselves and their pretensions to people's government. Anyone who can doubt this knows nothing of the nature of men.

Marx: If Mr Bakunin only knew something about the position of a manager in a workers' cooperative factory, all his dreams of domination would go to the devil.

[Marx, Conspectus of Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm]

Which of the two of them got that issue right?

Almost the whole of the Bakunin - Marx controversy could be consulted for further evidence that Marx was warned explicitly where his dictatorship of the proletariat would lead, and that he was, at best, dismissive of those warnings.

Back to the forum postings -

on measuring 'value':

Quote:
it is impossible to actually be able to MEASURE VALUE.

on defining 'value':

Quote:
our categories have to be fluid, live, and impermanent.

No, they do not have to be. Going further, they should not be.

On this we have fundamental disagreement. You have presented a concept, Marx's 'value', which can neither be measured nor, in the schoolbook sense, defined. That is comprehensible to me - but not valuable.

redtwister
Sep 7 2005 15:38
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi
Quote:
…casinos and yachts and luxury cruise lines…advertising and marketing campaigns

No bookies? No boats? No propaganda? That’s a grey little world you're building for us there comrade.

If you dish out vouchers, how are you going to stop people gambling with them? or using them to buy naughty things, like yachts or “advertising”.

LR

As with watching people fuck, i never said people wouldn't gamble. I just said that as an industry, and one that preys on a lot of the rotteneness of society (racism and sexism in one case, in another, addiction and financial desperation), it will probably still go on. Games of chance will always be popular, I suspect and people will wager something to make it more interesting. doesn't make it money.

Same with advertsising. People will promot things, but will there be an industry which is essentially based on deception, assault of the senses, etc.? Nope.

And as for buying yachts, someone has to a) be willing to make them and b) they have to work enough hours to earn enough labor hours worth of vouchers to buy one. Simply unlikely, if not impossible.

Cheers,

Chris

redtwister
Sep 7 2005 17:43
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi
Quote:
Really, this means there is oppression and poverty, but really no exploitation. I welcome you to show otherwise.

That’s hard. I’ll see what I can do, but I’ll need time. At least we agree that the problem with capitalism is our economic insecurity and political disenfranchisement.

Value Tokens and Competing Teams are neutral technologies. Non-technically put, these things are money and markets. Phobia against money and markets is just an extension of authoritarian Judeo-Christian morality which reveres the stink of effort and sacrifice. Authoritarian social conditioning is the driver of irrational behaviour and accounts for…

Quote:
people in New orleans didn't commandeer buses and trains

…better than a little competition and a few glorified IOUs.

However, I do accept that by the time you have fully infused money with an ethical abhorrence of capitalism, it’s sensible to take your perspective. If you think it’s tainted, I wouldn’t force you to use it.

In fact I’ll look after yours for you, if you like.

LR

I just don't see what you mean about money and markets. These are not 'things', they are specific forms of social relations that appear as 'things'. This would require a lengthy explanation and I have written enough lengthy posts for now.

The opposition to them is not abstractly ethical, however, it has to do with an opposition to the very core of capital an commodity production, including and most essentially for capital, labor as a commodity.

How you can reduce money to a glorified IOU is beyond me. Really. And then to compare markets with competition in some abstract, generic sense, is also seemingly vacuous. Its as if you had "capital" over here, which is the bad use of money and markets backed by an authoritarian state (itself an odd point of view since of all societies with some form of state, capital is in many, many respects the least repressive) versus ethically sanitized markets and money (this seeming to amount to no more than a medium of transaction stripped of all of the specific qualities of money and therefore not money at all.) However, it does make sense why you would be hostile to Marx then, for whom markets and money are essential to capital and certainly to the poduction of commodities, and therefore to a specific form of exploitation, and cannot exist in the absence of class society.

Again, this just seems like anarcho-capitalism to me, a sort of standard right-wing libertarian position: the problem isn't money and markets, its monopolies and governments.

Most importantly, what you seem to fail to grasp in the New Orleans context is that it was exactly a combination of respect of property AND fear of state repression (how you can have private property, money and markets, without states is also somewhat beyond me) that would be brought on by violating property rights. Not only that, the unfettered operation of markets and money had a lot to do with the expansion of suburban sprawl that has decimated the natural barrier between New Orleans and the cost. Competition in the sense that is meaningful in this society is the competition for markets between capitals, who must essentially exploit labor better (more efficiently, or to extract more creativity or to simply appropriate as your property the inventions and innovations of workers on the job, etc.) However, such competition leads automatically to concentration and consolidation of money and capital in fewer and fewer hands.

And people wonder why I defend Marx as providing the only basis of a thorough-going critique of capital...

chris

Mike Harman
Sep 7 2005 19:37
redtwister wrote:

And as for buying yachts, someone has to a) be willing to make them and b) they have to work enough hours to earn enough labor hours worth of vouchers to buy one. Simply unlikely, if not impossible.

Cheers,

Chris

Labour and/or resource intensive items that aren't satisfying need, I think some of them would still be produced. However, exclusive ownership of such items couldn't occur.

Plenty of people have an interest in boat building for example, no reason why people couldn't do that in their spare time (unless there was a dire shortage of the necessary materials). There are already sailing clubs all over the UK where you can hire boats temporarily, the same with gliders, microlights, classic cars.

I think it depends what you mean by yacht,

this:

or this?

The second one's a waste of time. The first, pretty fucking cool, and they last for decades if maintained OK. No reason why voluntary associations couldn't pool resources to build and maintain them, and then lend them out on a rota system for people to enjoy. Not to mention all the expropriated ones that'll be going idle.

redtwister
Sep 7 2005 20:32

Argue with me all you want, but at least be accurate. I did not say do not read secondary sources. I said that regurgitating them, having made no venture into really reading Marx carefully, results in a lot of crap. Consider the vast range of materials on Marx, the amount of slander, misrepresentation, etc. By comparison, Bakunin and Proudhon get off easy. But then if I was saying "well, X says this about Bakunin and Marx says this about Proudhon, so clearly Bakunin and Proudhon are Y.", you might well state that I am repeating rumours and slander and not taking the time to get to know Bakunin or Proudhon and therefore doing them, myself and the conversation a disservice. And you would be correct. So why should I be silent the same kind of shoddy approach from you?

Not only that, I have tried to carefully approach each and every question you have posed, in detail, and in the process I am sure I have tested more than a few people's patience. i am glad this isn't showing up like e-mails on a listserve.

afraser wrote:

Three assertions can be rebutted on that basis:

1) That Marx did not assert a theory of immiserisation of the proletariat akin to the iron law of wages.

Marx did not use the phrase "iron law of wages" (except critically). He did write:

Quote:
The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and, therefore, also the absolute mass of the proletariat and the productiveness of its labour, the greater is the industrial reserve army. The same causes which develop the expansive power of capital, develop also the labour-power at its disposal. The relative mass of the industrial reserve army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But the greater this reserve army in proportion to the active labour-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated surplus-population, 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.

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 25]

Nothing here is remotely like the 'iron law of wages'. This is clear enough if one reads with more care and does not quote selectively...

First sentence: the larger and more expansive capital is, the more it dominates all social relations, the larger and more productive the working class is, the larger the reserve army of labor. Looking at capital on a world scale today, how can you deny this is true? It is a simple fact at this point, evident with even a cursory review of statistics and changes over the last 150 years.

Second sentence: what develops capital also develops labor power, both in terms of technique and in the sophistication of the means of production which employ labor. Again, somewhat obvious.

Third sentence: The relative mass of the industrial reserve army increases with the potential energy of wealth, which is to say that as the potential for accumulation increases, so too does the relative proportion of the population that may be, but is not yet, exploited. In this is included non-wage labor over the whole world, from women in households to peasants and herders and nomads. This would also include that layer of the working class employed in sub-par exploitative conditions (less efficient, not less nasty), employed part time, or employed in non-value producing industries. Regardless of whether you agree with Marx's notion of value or not, that is a logically coherent point from within Marx's framework that hold up empirically.

Fourth sentence: the greater the relative size of the surplus-army, the greater its misery is in inverse relation to its ability to get work. In other words, as society is more and more driven by money and waged labor, the further one is from waged work, the deeper one's immmiseration because less and less can be gotten without money and therefore, as more and more labor must of necessity be waged, without waged labor. This is clearly NOT a sentence about how there is an unchanging pool, but the exact opposite, that as waged labor becomes more and more the only option, and as capital expands to all aspects of life, so too does not having waged labor reduce one to utter deprivation. You also ignore that Marx has here 3 terms: reserve army, active army, consolidated surplus-population, or what we might call potential labor, active labor and redundant population (not even labor.) While the proportion between the three has fluctuated over time, I would still say that it is basically correct on a global scale, the scale at which capital operates. Taking India, China and Africa alone, half the world's population, you have a vast mass or both reserve and redundant labor on a scale unprecendented in human history.

Fifth sentence: This was obviously true in Marx's time and increasingly so today, but certainly did not seem that way at different times.

So let's look at the last sentence of the paragraph, the one you conveniently LEAVE OUT: "Like all other laws it is modified in its working by many circumstances, the analysis of which does not concern us here." Hmmm..., the amazing power of selective quotation.

Quote:
Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers

[Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 32]

Which is a theory of immiserisation of the proletariat akin to the iron law of wages, although the first quote has already been rejected as implying immiserisation, so maybe it's just my reading which is at fault.

Aside from saying Yes to the last part of your comment, specifically because misery is not merely economic, oppression, slavery, degradation are not merely economic (with all our things, with increasingly miserable working conditions, longer hours, long commutes, passive entertainment, etc. do we in fact have a very high quality of life?) and exploitation is not the opposite of high wages. You can increase exploitation by having producitivity outstrip wage growth and still have an absolute increase in wages and profits. Hence the post-WWII boom.

Quote:
2) That Marx did not assert a Labour theory of value.

If one stops at the first fives pages of Capital, as afraser and Bohm-Bawerk do, then this indeed seems the case. however, this is a mistake. Marx's real target is in the fetishism of commodities.

to quote I.I. Rubin on Marx's value theory of labor:

"It is more accurate to express the theory of value inversely: in the commodity-capitalist economy, production work relations among people necessarily acquire the form of the value of things, and can appear only in this material form; social labor can only be expressed in value. Here the point of departure for research is not value but labor, not the transactions of market exchange as such, but the production structure of the commodity society, the totality of production relations among people. The transactions of market exchange are then the necessary consequences of the internal structure of the society; they are one of the aspects of the social process of production. The labor theory of value is not based on an analysis of exchange transactions as such in their material form, but on the analysis of those social production relations expressed in the transactions." (Section II, preface between Chapters 7 and 8)

Quote:
3) That Marx only used the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" 7-10 times - and they don't count because he didn't really mean it.

I never said Marx did not mean what he said. I said that you, being an Orthodox Marxist of the Kautsky-Lenin-Trotsky sort, neither took seriously nor cared to decipher 'how', 'when' or 'why' Marx used the phrase, in context. His usage was the common form of the usage through the first half of the 19th century, when Marx first used the phrase. He used it primarily in critique of the Blanquists. I tried to cite some thorough source in the matter, but in vain. I didn't cite, but certainly could, the many, many places Marx takes the most critical view of the state, leaving little doubt as to his hostile attitude towards it, only mentioning writings as diverse and separated by time at the German ideology and the Critique of the Gotha Program. But you insist on reading what you want to see.

Quote:
Bakunin: So the result is: guidance of the great majority of the people by a privileged minority of former workers, who however, as soon as they have become representatives or governors of the people, cease to be workers and look down on the whole common workers' world from the height of the state. They will no longer represent the people, but themselves and their pretensions to people's government. Anyone who can doubt this knows nothing of the nature of men.

Marx: If Mr Bakunin only knew something about the position of a manager in a workers' cooperative factory, all his dreams of domination would go to the devil.

[Marx, Conspectus of Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm]

This is another splendid quote. Let's correct it:

" (Bakunin)... will consist of workers. Certainly, with your permission, of former workers, who however, as soon as they have become representatives or governors of the people, cease to be workers...

(Marx)As little as a factory owner today ceases to be a capitalist if he becomes a municipal councillor... (left out by afraser)

(Bakunin)and look down on the whole common workers' world from the height of the state. They will no longer represent the people, but themselves and their pretensions to people's government. Anyone who can doubt this knows nothing of the nature of men.

(Marx)If Mr Bakunin only knew something about the position of a manager in a workers' cooperative factory, all his dreams of domination would go to the devil. He should have asked himself what form the administrative function can take on the basis of this workers' state, if he wants to call it that." (this last also left out by afraser)

One's position in the state does not change one's class position, esp since the state is a form of those class relations. A point which Marx emphasizes in the missing setence.

And then Marx uses the term workers' state if Bakunin "wants to call it that", i.e. as if he is making a concession to Bakunin. these being personal notes for only himself, I fail to see the value for Marx in being coy.

Marx talks about the forms of administration and their need to have a purely functional character devoid of political power. For Marx, this was merely an extension of the Paris Commune. But like Marx is the Devil so the State is the Great Satan, from which all evil and all devils emanate. Sadly, the state too is just so much an aspect of particular social relations. The question then, as with value, is why sociality between people in public life should take the form of the state, just as the question is why labor and its products should present themselves in the form of Values.

As to the correctness of Bakunin's statements (one imagines Bakunin a great fan of the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, against those evil proletarian Orcs), they do not exactly match up to what happened in Russia, as the Bolsheviks, once in power, attacked workers' self-organization by undermining the soviets and factory councils. They also behaved as a bourgeois dictatorship would in relation to Makhno in Ukraine, as they would later do to the Left Communists (i.e. the Italian, German and Dutch Left, not Trotsky's Left Opposition) in the International, the workers' opposition, and the Kronstadt sailors. What is more interesting is why the workers did not ultimately revolt against the bolsheviks (except for Kronstadt), why the anarchists had so little influence outside Ukraine, etc. Mere ideology cannot explain this and we must look further into the concrete class struggle. Bakunin's point is prescient, but taken by itself insufficient.

Quote:
Back to the forum postings -

on measuring 'value':

Quote:
it is impossible to actually be able to MEASURE VALUE.

on defining 'value':

Quote:
our categories have to be fluid, live, and impermanent.

No, they do not have to be. Going further, they should not be.

This is a more philosophical discussion and if you want to take it up, I might suggest anothe thread. otherwise, you and I can go back and forth on that endlessly. But I'll ask you this: What categories are eternal? Is there an ethical statement that is absolutely valid, regardless of the situation? Is there a category or an ethical statement that is not ultimately situated in a specific set of human social relations?

Quote:
On this we have fundamental disagreement. You have presented a concept, Marx's 'value', which can neither be measured nor, in the schoolbook sense, defined. That is comprehensible to me - but not valuable.

I have suggested you are asking the wrong questions and not being careful enough in your arguments. You have been taking shots at someone you have not bothered to take seriously, demonized him, and then adopted the positions of his distorters. All in the name of defending vulgar economics and Bakunin as an abstraction (I happen to like some of Bakunin's stuff and think he did pick up on certain problems which Marx did not, as is to be expected.)

I have also suggested that Marx does not deploy Value to measure something, but to ask why human production relations take the form of Values and why that has revolutionary implications. That indeed may not be useful to you, but I find it essential to cracking open capital's supposedly eternal categories and laying bare that they are merely the relations of this society reflected (more or less accurately) in thought, but without the awareness of themselves as such or that the society they reflect is ultimately insane. This is a necessary part of the critique of capital, namely the critique of capital's ideology that exposes it as such.

chris

redtwister
Sep 7 2005 20:38
Catch wrote:

Labour and/or resource intensive items that aren't satisfying need, I think some of them would still be produced. However, exclusive ownership of such items couldn't occur.

Plenty of people have an interest in boat building for example, no reason why people couldn't do that in their spare time (unless there was a dire shortage of the necessary materials). There are already sailing clubs all over the UK where you can hire boats temporarily, the same with gliders, microlights, classic cars.

You and Revol68 are quite right. I meant personal ownership of such items, not their production for collective use or sharing around. Just as we would still produce means of production, but not for ownership as capital.

My real point is that, unlike money which can be accumulated independent of how much one works and based on th exchange of values in the market, no longer producing values for exchange, but use-values for, well, use, labor-tickets or vouchers do not play the role of money in th market, as a form of value, but merely exist as a sign of labor done.

And even this may or may not be necessary. We have a far greater capacity for producing today than in Marx's day and may not even need to bother with such a transition.

Cheers,

Chris

Lazy Riser
Sep 7 2005 21:51

Hi

Well that was a sound thrashing I received earlier, and no mistake. You guys are really into this “no personal ownership” thing. If I can personally own a toothbrush, why can’t I personally own a yacht? It’s only a matter of having the productive resources to support my ostentatious tastes.

Why can’t money and markets be just “things”? This “capitalism as a social relation” business is sound and true but is not carried in money or markets, which really are just tokens and a particular way of implementing consumer/producer democracy for some goods.

The reason why companies do bad things is not because they operate in a market, but because they are owned by anti-working class interests.

Nevertheless, if you dress money up as this oppressive vector, you’re right. But you’re giving dead cash false life.

Love

LR

cmdrdeathguts
Sep 8 2005 02:21

personally, i have no idea whether or not it would be possible in a libertarian-socialist society to possess a luxury yacht. if people want it, if the resources and manpower are there, it'll get made. whatever.

i'm short on economic insight, but as far as i can see, as long as companies are privately owned by anyone, and as long as they compete for profit, that profit is going somewhere and not everybody's getting it. thus, instantly, you have two tiers of society - 'classes', if you will. giving the companies to 'pro-working class interests' simply makes bourgeois interests out of them. i fail to see how what you propose is any different from (anarcho)capitalism, except that you're presenting it in an idealistic Disney-movie format.

Lazy Riser
Sep 8 2005 08:40

Hi

Quote:
i fail to see how what you propose is any different from anarcho capitalism

It is fundamentally different, for example…

1.

All property is ultimately vested in the public, neighbourhood councils get to sequester any resources as necessary.

2.

There is no enforceable payment of interest on “loans”.

3.

Direct democracy in the workplace, management is elected (including judiciary, police, military and banking). Firms are accountable to neighbourhood councils.

4.

Universal citizens income, whether you can find work or not.

5.

No poverty, no political disenfranchisement.

What’s your problem with Capitalism anyway? Unfairness and Pollution?

Love

Chris