- Capitalism and Alternatives -

This post's for you

Posted by: Stoller on December 25, 1999 at 12:28:15:

In Reply to: What's the use... posted by bill on December 25, 1999 at 00:48:51:

: I think more might be said about use-value in light of today's value structure. While modes of production may determine social relations, and the ruling values of a society are the ideas of the ruling class, this would also filter down to what are considered use-values. Now I'm not talking about food and shelter or the basic necessities of life. I don't know what percentage of the "productive" output of modern capitalism is devoted to these basics - but I suspect it would be a relatively small percentage.

: The "circulation" sphere has become the tail that wags the dog.

: The medium is the messege. Beauty, like the package, is the sell. It's as though Nike's shoe is the mined ore - the manufacturing (advertising) is done abroad in Seattle. The advertisement is not simply the distributional process of circulation but a product with its own (psychological) "use-values". And then there is of course the "use-values" of everything from the "terminator gene" to B-2 bombers.

: Of course the internal mechanisms of capitalist exploitation exist (as you noted) in both spheres. But the overthrow of this exploitative political-economy, while laudable, is only half the battle. After all, who needs worker-owned and controlled B-2 or "terminator gene" factories? I don't want a slice of THAT pie.

Good points.

I would argue, however, that 'the overthrow of this exploitative political-economy' is more than 'only half the battle.' It's the fundamental part of the battle.

Circulation costs increase, in part, because much of what capitalism creates is not necessary. No one advertises water (or at least, no one did until tap water became poisoned). If people need a famous basketball player to 'sell' them on a particular running shoe, that's a pretty certain indication that the shoe---in itself---is a weak product.

To strike a more serious tone, much of circulation exists to accelerate turnover time. (Remember how much of Capital volume two was spent on that topic?) The whole computer infrastructure primarily acts as a means to make the exchange of commodities and money lightening fast. This can only make constant and variable capital expenses go further per constituent commodity.

To abolish the production of goods for profit, replacing it with the production of goods for human need would---fundamentally---alter the WAY things are produced AND circulated.

To plug some of MY issues (again), if job rotation and a democratic conception of production accompanied the production of goods for human need, then (I believe) many SUPERFLUOUS commodities would be discontinued---simply because people would face making these things in equal proportion to the satisfaction of receiving them. For example: would you want fast food restaurants if you PERSONALLY had to pull a shift or two each week? Etc., etc.

Note: What's the use?---as in what's the use responding to Gee? Since Gee rejects the LTV, there really is no point in his taking my (Marxian) issues further. But I know other people read my posts (at least once in awhile)...

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