Heinrich's Intro to Capital

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Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 17:02
mikus wrote:
Again, the point is that though you use the word "labor", you're not talking about labor in the same sense as the rest of us at all. Assuming you're talking about anything at all (I'm still not convinced of this but that's another topic), you're talking about something that is completely different from, say, the actual activity that workers do (mining, producing t-shirts, sewing, waiting tables

In other words, you mean I'm making a distinction between "concrete" and "abstract" labor, like, say, Marx does?

mikus
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Sep 14 2012 17:27
Angelus Novus wrote:
mikus wrote:
Again, the point is that though you use the word "labor", you're not talking about labor in the same sense as the rest of us at all. Assuming you're talking about anything at all (I'm still not convinced of this but that's another topic), you're talking about something that is completely different from, say, the actual activity that workers do (mining, producing t-shirts, sewing, waiting tables

In other words, you mean I'm making a distinction between "concrete" and "abstract" labor, like, say, Marx does?

Marx says repeatedly that abstract and concrete labor are the same labor, so his "abstract labor" applies just as much to the actual concrete labor that people perform. He is just saying that it doesn't matter, in the determination of value, which labor they actually performed. (Hence, "human labor in the abstract.") So yes, his notion of social labor most certainly does have everything to do with the actual labor of actual people in an actual capitalist society.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 17:06
mikus wrote:
And that "social relationship" (fully) exists only after the product has been exchanged, correct?

I'd say the social relationship exists since the expropriation of direct agricultural producers in England in the early modern period (and probably sporadically throughout history before then, but never as a dominant mode of production).

mikus
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Sep 14 2012 17:08

Ah, so the world "value" just refers to a historical social relationship, then, eh?

So there's no need for me to actually exchange the infamous coat for linen in order to actually have those commodities related to each other as values, I presume?

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 17:13
mikus wrote:
Ah, so the world "value" just refers to a historical relationship, there's nothing quantitative to it at all then?

Of course there's a quantitative component to it, which is also dealt with by Heinrich, but since I've already had this very same argument with you 5 or 6 years ago, with neither of us changing the other's mind, I don't really see the point in re-hashing it a thousand times, having to dig up the same quotations from Marx, etc. That's boring.

mikus
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Sep 14 2012 17:14

Oh Angelus, I'm sure we can make progress, I can save you yet! Help me help you, my friend!

All you need to do is give some straight answers instead of running all over the place to the beginning of the "early modern period" and back trying to avoid my inquiries.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 17:18
mikus wrote:
Help me help you, my friend!

Find me some more translation work! grin

mikus
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Sep 14 2012 17:26

Unfortunately for you, there is nothing of value in German (besides Marx) to be translated into English. It's time to allocate your social labor to a new sphere.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 17:31
mikus wrote:
Unfortunately for you, there is nothing of value

andy g
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Sep 14 2012 17:35

always nice to start off the weekend by re-igniting a shit storm!

I share ocelot's lingering feeling about the diminishing explanatory role of value as a concept in some of the arguments Heinrich uses - just wondered if it was me missing something.

sometimes with you guys these threads are a bit like an episode of the British TV show QI - a questions hangs in the air just waiting for someone to state the seemingly obvious only for a claxon to go off and them to be exposed as wrong!

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jura
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Sep 14 2012 17:43

Someone should ask about the dictatorship of the proletariat and the transition period, there hasn't been a discussion on that for years!

mikus
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Sep 14 2012 17:48

To be fair, that'd be better than the threads on nihilist communism, society of the spectacle, and insurrectionary anarchism.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 18:12

Those threads could be potentially great if Noa would just show up to drop some Kautsky.

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jura
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Sep 14 2012 19:04

On the other hand, in a dictatorship of the proletariat thread, there's a great chance he'd do just that.

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sabot
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Sep 14 2012 19:38

Oh God, please don't tempt anyone to do that.

Btw, looking forward to reviews from Nate/JK of Heinrich's book.

RedHughs
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Sep 14 2012 19:57
jura wrote:
Great quote, but the problem (and I think Perlman was aware of this, as was Rubin whom he translated) is that you cannot conclusively show how social labor is regulated by socially necessary labor time unless you also show the link between individual (enterprise-level) agency and SNLT. That link is 1. the establishment of the average rate of profit through mechanisms of competition (the drive towards extra profit or whatever is the proper English translation) and credit etc., 2. production prices, 3. market prices. Without the link, value does not explain social labor at all, it can at best be a hypothesis.

But there is no practical measurement of value (approximations at best, if we are to trust Fred Moseley et al.), and, on top of that, you have to (or at least you should, according o Marx) manage to explain social labor from 1. - 3. without presupposing what you want to explain. I'm not sure if Marx entirely succeeded in that step. Perhaps it can't really be done and we either have to lower the methodological standards or content ourselves with not having a full, polished explanation. (But I guess even a 93% theory of value is better than Samuelson.)

I very much appreciate your first paragraph though I'm not sure that approximation is failure. Also, it seems like if one went through steps 1-3, one would be constructing a position which at least some conventional bourgeois economists would find interesting, "political economy" and "economics" would no longer have no points of intersection.

In your second paragraph, however, I don't how you can put this as "percentage of a correct theory". A line of reasoning where "most of the steps are correct" can result in complete nonsense.

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jura
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Sep 14 2012 20:10

Red, the "93%" thing is an inside joke related to Ricardo's assertion that changes in the rate of profit (rise or fall in wages or profits) can influence relative prices by "at most" 7 %. Some historians thus refer to Ricardo as having a "93% labor theory of value".

Edit: What I meant is that even if Marxian theory cannot provide the full mechanism linking values and market prices (more precisely, cannot do so while staying true to the strict rules of what counts as an explanation that Marx subscribed to) it may still be a useful theory.

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ocelot
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Sep 14 2012 20:18

Shoulda known better than to mess with Dr. Capital. grin

RedHughs
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Sep 14 2012 20:30

Sure,

But it still seems like you're dismissing some serious problems with a joke...

Edit Obviously getting back to the theme that's already been tossed around for several pages; how is the theory useful if it doesn't link price and value.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 14 2012 20:34
RedHughs wrote:
But it still seems like you're dismissing some serious problems with a joke...

Dude, land-grabbing is a serious problem. Climate change is a serious problem. What's happening to Greece right now is a serious problem. A potential defeat for the Chicago teachers strike would be a serious problem.

Questions concerning methodology in the critique of political economy: not a serious problem.

Kinda important, sure. "Serious" just sounds so portentous for something that will not directly impact the life of most people on this planet, not even the ones who eventually make a revolution.

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jura
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Sep 14 2012 20:40

Well, I think Marx does provide the answer in Capital, it just isn't a completely worked out answer.

It also does not satisify some requirements other people may have (i.e. "magically compute value from this market price"), but, on the other hand, says why it can't be done. I also don't think Marx has fully followed his own prescriptions on what a theory should look like. Sometimes he has to invoke in an explanation something that has not been explained before, and stuff like that. Then again, maybe there is no other way to portray such a complex system in a linear text (most of which is largely a huge mess of manuscripts).

RedHughs
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Sep 14 2012 22:30
Angelus Novus wrote:
RedHughs wrote:
But it still seems like you're dismissing some serious problems with a joke...

Dude, land-grabbing is a serious problem. Climate change is a serious problem. What's happening to Greece right now is a serious problem. A potential defeat for the Chicago teachers strike would be a serious problem.

Questions concerning methodology in the critique of political economy: not a serious problem.

Kinda important, sure. "Serious" just sounds so portentous for something that will not directly impact the life of most people on this planet, not even the ones who eventually make a revolution.

Yeah, and my use of the word "serious" was clearly the most serious problem of all, since required you to disengage from your important efforts on all these fronts. Why not polish your skill at snidely commenting on adjective choice on someone else. I'm certainly not serious enough for you.

S. Artesian
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Sep 15 2012 02:51

It's ok Red, don't get your knickers in a twist; the great Marxist commentator Doug Henwood will sort it all out for us.

Ogion
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Sep 15 2012 04:14
RedHughs wrote:
But it still seems like you're dismissing some serious problems with a joke...

Aside from the question of them being "serious" or "important," you come across as implicitly saying we should be super-serious all of the time concerning theory and understanding how value functions. I think Marx made tons of inside jokes, sardonic comments, and whatnot throughout his works, and while, no, they're not essential, they at least show an element of fun which can be incredibly lacking in these discussions. I think it was the fantasy author Neil Gaiman (or maybe Terry Pratchett) who pointed out that the opposite of "funny" or "joking" novel isn't a "serious” novel, but just a "not funny” novel, and to some extent I think that can be true of theory as well.

Edit: Of course, I may just be misreading what you meant, and if I am, I apologize.

Dave B
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Sep 15 2012 19:16
Quote:
So there's no need for me to actually exchange the infamous coat for linen in order to actually have those commodities related to each other as values, I presume?

There is no need; in free access socialism 5 yards of Linen will contain the same amount of human effort (abstract labour), albeit of different ‘concrete’ types, as 1 coat.

The value of an artificial product, denominated in labour, is not dependent on exchange, it is a defined and predicated/premised intrinsic property of the material.

Quote:

It becomes plain, that it is not the exchange of commodities which regulates the magnitude of their value; but, on the contrary, that it is the magnitude of their value which controls their exchange proportions.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm

In fact saying that its ‘value’, or the amount of effort required to make it, is an intrinsic property of ‘it’ is an under statement as;

Quote:
products ARE labour

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch12.htm

Gabrielle Deville’s Das Capital for dummies which he wrote with the encouragement of Marx and completed in 1883 will soon be digitalised online in English.

It is a reasonable proposition I think to presume that it would have been a fair reflection of Karl’s ‘understanding’.

He goes off on his own tangent occasionally and puts his own ‘polictical’ spin on things, I think.

But it is fairly readable and includes ‘his’ take on various loose ends that inevitablely drop out of capital.

some of which are contained in the last few posts it seems, I have not been following this thread.

I quite liked Deville's book.

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jura
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Sep 15 2012 19:31
Dave B wrote:
The value of an artificial product, denominated in labour, is not dependent on exchange, it is a defined and predicated/premised intrinsic property of the material.

Marx wrote:
The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition. Turn and examine a single commodity, by itself, as we will, yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it seems impossible to grasp it.

Marx wrote:
So far no chemist has ever discovered exchange value either in a pearl or a diamond.

Worlds apart!

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Nate
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Sep 15 2012 19:46

MARX POSTS ON LIBCOM?!?!

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Railyon
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Sep 15 2012 21:12
Dave B wrote:
Quote:
So there's no need for me to actually exchange the infamous coat for linen in order to actually have those commodities related to each other as values, I presume?

There is no need; in free access socialism 5 yards of Linen will contain the same amount of human effort (abstract labour), albeit of different ‘concrete’ types, as 1 coat.

The value of an artificial product, denominated in labour, is not dependent on exchange, it is a defined and predicated/premised intrinsic property of the material.

Quote:
The general value form is the reduction of all kinds of actual labour to their common character of being human labour generally, of being the expenditure of human labour power.

The general value form, which represents all products of labour as mere congelations of undifferentiated human labour, shows by its very structure that it is the social resumé of the world of commodities. That form consequently makes it indisputably evident that in the world of commodities the character possessed by all labour of being human labour constitutes its specific social character.

Source: Also Capital Vol 1 Ch 1

Maybe Stalin was right and the law of value DOES operate under socialism. I thought to do away with it was the very point though?

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Nate
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Sep 29 2012 04:35

My copy finally arrived today. Looking forward to reading it and will go back over this thread afterward.

petey
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Oct 24 2012 13:38

got mine yesterday.