- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Social classes...the whole gamut!

Posted by: David ( USA ) on November 18, 1999 at 08:29:07:

In Reply to: A response to a previous inquiry about social classes posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder 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.

When I used the term 'objective value,' what I meant was that the money is backed by a tangible good. In the case of a gold standard, I could take my 20 dollar note and go to my local holding bank and ask for my gold depoist that the note represents.
Of course the value of money itself is subjective, gold would be utterly useless if it was not considered to be of value and if no one was producing.

: 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...

You are correct, however the gold itself was tangible. The problem with the current system of Federal Reserve Notes is that they devalue whenever the feds print more. Granted that Greenspan has been keeping pretty good tabs on inflation. An example of out of control inflation would be Third Reich Germany, because ingflation was so bad, workers asked to be paid their wages at the end of each day because if they were paid at the end of the week their wages would be worth very little.

: : 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.

Okay. I missed that part, I thought you were presenting it as the economic system of capitalism in a macrocosmic sense.

: 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.)

True,however, labor without the ability to produce a good or supply a service is like hitting the gass pedal while in neutral, you aren't going to go anywhere and the gas is going to get all used up. So, as a qualification to what you are saying, I would also say that labor itself is a useless commodity unless there is a goal to apply it to.

: : 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.

I see, so one is a model of consumption while the other is a model of investment. I have no argument with them as such, however, I do not think that one or the other is exclusive to certain classes.

: 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".

Okay, I understand. Thanks for the specification.

: 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.

I agree, I just do not think we would be capable of such rapid growth if we did eliminate 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?

No. It all comes down to the right to your own life. If you own a farm and want to employ a farm hand to help to bail hay, then you may do so, assuming that you find someone to want to work for you. That farmer has the right to free association, he may hire who he pleases or no one at all. A person does not, however, have the right to make the farmer employ him, because it would violate the farmer's right to free association.
You do not have to be an 'elite' to hire someone. It could be something so simple as getting little Johnny next door to water your garden while you are away for the weekend or something.
I agree that there are social classes and distinctions. In my opinion though, that people tend to think of them in black and white terms: you are either an 'elite' or a 'prol.' Capitalists (especially Randians) are just as hardlined with their 'producer'/'parasite' construct.

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