- Capitalism and Alternatives -

toasters and s**t

Posted by: Loudon Head on January 10, 19100 at 10:22:28:

In Reply to: What a lot of blather! posted by Stoller on December 30, 1999 at 10:55:06:

: Stoller:
: The difference between a proletarian and a capitalist can be quantitatively determined.

: Stoller:
: As a general rule,

: : A QUANTITATIVE determination that has as its first premise a GENERAL rule?

: General rules DO emerge from quantitative measurements. See SDF's post here.

I'll miss you most of all, strawman. I didn't imply that general rules don't emerge from quantitative measurments. I implied that quantitative measurements don't emerge from general rules, something which you seemed to be attempting in your original post. Go back and read them.

: Stoller:
: A capitalist, on the other hand, buys items that are consumed productively.* For example: plant facilities, raw materials, machines, and labor are all things that, once consumed (in the production process), become items retaining their previous value as well as possessing added value (if not, why bother to be a capitalist?).

: : It is not necessary to read any more of this post. It has already become nonsense, based on a faulty definition of "consume".

: No, there are TWO types of consumption, final and productive.

I assume eating food would be an example of final consumption in your analysis. Question: If I use my shit as fertilizer, does food's consumption classification change? What if I sell it?

What if an enterprising (and strong-stomached) entrepreneur harvests shit from the sewers and uses or sells it as fertilizer?

Please don't dismiss these questions as "silly". If you do genuinely believe them to be silly (I don't), then please tell me why they're silly. I don't understand your definition of TWO types of consumption, and the distinction seems to me to break down with the slightest examination.

: : Anything, once it is consumed, is "gone and must be purchased again" whether it is food, clothes, plant facilities, or labor, and each of these goods produces something of value while it is being consumed. The only important difference among them is that some take a longer time to consume than others.

: No, the important distinction is that some consumption eradicates a commodity and some consumption MAKES MONEY.

The only kind of consumption I can think of that MAKES MONEY is consumption of a printing press, (assuming that by money you mean paper bills. Anything can potentially be a medium of exchange, or "money".)

: When I eat a sandwich, it's basically gone; when I make a sandwich to sell, I make enough money to make another sandwich PLUS have money LEFT OVER (for re-investment and profit). Otherwise, capitalism wouldn't bother to make ANYTHING.

When you make a sandwich to sell, you don't make money (unless sandwiches are a medium of exchange in your society.) You make a sandwich. If you manage to sell it, you will have gotten some money (presumably) in exchange. You might also have exchanged (sold) it for oranges, hardware, a different sandwich, sexual favors, whatever you like.

: : Food is consumed immediately. Clothes are consumed over a long time, (producing something of value each time they are worn,) as are plant facilities and labor.

: You're leaving out the PROFIT-MAKING character of productive consumption here...

Only because, as I've said above, there doesn't seem to be a substantive difference between your "productive consumption" and your "final consumption". You say that productive consumption has a PROFIT-MAKING character. But my examples of shit and toasters seem to indicate that what you call "final consumption" may also have a profit-making character.

: : Stoller would have us believe that plant facilities, raw materials, machines and labor all "retain their previous value as well as possessing added value." Again, obviously false. Each time any of these goods is used to produce something, they lose a little bit of their value. Otherwise, they'd last forever.

: True, and any capitalist who plans to stay in business ADDS the costs of equipment wear and tear (constant capital) and plant depreciation (fixed capital) TO the overall price of the commodity being sold. Marx: 'Suppose a machine to be worth 1,000, and to wear out in 1,000 days. Then one thousandth part of the value of the machine is daily transferred to the day's product' (Capital volume one, International 1967, p. 204). Thus constant and fixed capital RETAIN their values in the M-C-M CIRCUIT.

You lost me. What's an M-C-M CIRCUIT?

: : The only difference between these and the goods which Stoller would like to classify as proletarian goods are the span of time it takes to consume them.

: Nonsense! It's M-C-M that counts.

: : I'd like to pose a series of questions which I've asked many socialists in many arguments and to which I've never gotten satisfactory answers: Is a toaster a factor of production?

: Silly question. A toaster cannot be a 'factor of production' UNLESS toasters are necessary for making something in the production sphere.

So, in spite of your earlier comments regarding making a sandwich to sell, you do not believe that toast is something which can be used in the "production sphere"? Please define "production sphere" for me so that we can debate this further.

: : (Or, in Stoller's terms, is a toaster a proletarian good or a capitalist good?)

: It is a CONSUMER good (i.e. somethign consumed finally)---whether or not a capitalist OR a wage-laborer buys it. I guess you didn't read the * in my post, did you?---'Not necessary to read any more of this post' and all...

A toaster is consumed "finally"? Do you mean to say that toast is consumed "finally"? I'd agree with that. Once I've eaten the toast, it's gone. But we're talking about the toaster here, not the toast.

Okay, I've gone back and reread your original post. Correct me where I'm wrong. You've posited two kinds of goods, regardless of their owner: Consumer Goods, goods which "once consumed, are gone and must be purchased again in order to reproduce those items' use-value," and Productive Goods, goods which "once consumed (in the production process), become items retaining their previous value as well as possessing added value."

I'm guessing you would call a toaster a good of the second type. Or is it a good of a third type which you haven't yet defined? Please tell me. Or is its classification dependent on what one decides to do with the toast?

: : If it's a capitalist good, then why do so many proletarians (yes, even the working class ones) own them?

: Another silly question...

Since you've dismissed the rest of my questions as "silly", I'll leave them for now. But we might come back to them.

P.S. No, the Lewis Carroll economics guy you refer to isn't me. My name is spelled "Loudon Head", but it's pronounced "Throat-Wobbler Mangrove."

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