- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A response to a previous inquiry about social classes

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on November 17, 1999 at 10:39:27:

A response to David's post here, with its confusion about this post:

: Another point to add on to that is that money needs to have some objective value behind it. The money we use now is merely a promissory note from the government to tax it's citizens in the future and pay you from that.

SDF: There is no such thing as "objective value". Money is a social convention and circulates amidst a GENERAL SOCIAL PRESUMPTION of value. Values reside in people, not in objects. If a bar of gold could talk, it could value its body as an "objective value". But gold remains mute.

And money doesn't have to be "backed" at all. When money WAS gold, it wasn't backed by anything at all. The general spirit of economic optimism (or fetishism -- see Marx) keeps its value afloat -- please read some Keynes...

: I disagree with you when you say that labor-power is the first thing in the C-M-C relationship. I would argue that before there can be the C in C-M-C, there must be a need for C, an inventor of C, a means of manufacturing C, etc... Even that is simplified at best. There are also other considerations to take into account when you get into complex industrial processes.

SDF: The C-M-C relationship describes the rituals of work and consumerism that define the existence of the working class.

Labor-power, like natural resources, is a commodity, and nobody needed to manufacture or invent it for it to be a commodity. Under capitalism, all that is "wealth" is also "commodity". Labor-power, however, is a special commodity, for it is necessary to start the process of capital accumulation, whereby the owning classes see "returns" on their investments. (Please see the discussion of the labor theory of value.)

: The other point that I disagree with is when you say that in the C-M-C diagram, the last C is always a commodity that is not for further trade. A person can always save up their surplus income in order to buy a computer to start programming on, or purchase tools to sell their repair skills to people. Another example I can think of would be earning enough to buy a lawnmower, and then mowing peoples lawns for money. Obviously these are quite short term, simplified diagrams, but I believe they express the point clearly enough.

SDF: When we INVEST, we buy a commodity in hopes of "making money" off if it. When we CONSUME, we don't intend to resell the commodity we bought. The point of distinguishing C-M-C and M-C-M was, among many other things, to distinguish investment from consumption.

: The flaw I see in the M-C-M system is that money has no value if there is nothing to buy. The value of money can be described in terms of its purchasing power. If there is nothing to buy, money is useless.

SDF: Sure, investment doesn't work if nobody makes anything. Workers build the social world, investors merely exist PARASITICALLY off of that fact.

M-C-M, as I described below, is the economic ritual of the OWNING CLASSES, the classes that live off of their investments. It's not a description of a "system".

and finally...

: : SDF: Bourgeois morals are morals which assume that entrepreneurs must invest if anyone is to work.

: I would say that it is not so much a moral as it is a theory.

SDF: Nope, people can work without there being any investors at all. Such work is the basis of all social systems, historical and present-day, which are not dominated by investors.

: SDF:The right to work should not be dependent upon elites who move money around.

: I do not consider work a right, simply because it effects other individuals rights to free association. If working were a right, than I could say that anyone who refused to hire me for any reason was infringing on my right.

SDF: You appear to be saying that you think the right to work SHOULD be dependent upon elites who move money around. Would you like to exercise your right to be "unemployed"? Or would you like to make things less painful for yourself, and recognize the existence of social classes in a way that is uncluttered by the rhetoric of apology for the owning class?

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