- Capitalism and Alternatives -

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Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on November 03, 1999 at 13:04:16:

In Reply to: done posted by Gee on November 01, 1999 at 17:50:13:

: : SDF: Are you saying that "use-value" is "useless" for the calculation of profit? Have you changed your mind, Gee? Stoller and I have you quoted as saying "Profit is gain based upon use value." Which opinion may we attribute to you, that "Profit is gain based upon use value" or that use-value is useless as a concept for the calculation of profit, and we must use exchange-value instead?

: That exchange-value is concrete evidence of use-value,

SDF: Not necessarily. Capitalism breeds a class of people who are called speculators, who make their money simply by buying and selling properties without using them. The profits of speculators have NOTHING to do with the "use-values" of the products they trade, at least not to the speculators themselves.

There are, furthermore, commodities whose use-values are trivial (gold, silver, platinum e.g.) but whose exchange-values are the main reason they are traded -- people buy gold not to make earrings for the overwhelmingly most part, but rather to speculated upon the projection of an increase in its currency-value.

Thus arguing that "profit is based on use value" tells us nothing about profit from the perspective of those who make a profit.

I repeat: uses are IDIOSYNCRATIC and INCALCULABLE, exchange values are CALCULABLE because exchange value is a generalization of PRICE.

: becuase on its own use-value is an intangible unmeasurable concept. That profits are recorded by using exchange value data

SDF: So profit is based on the exchange values accumulated by the capitalist, NOT on the use values enjoyed by the consumer. Glad we cleared that up.

: but that making profits in the first place requires that people will find a product useful to them and want to trade etc.

SDF: As I have pointed out many times as well, the fact that people "want to trade" something that is "useful to them" means NOTHING if they can't meet the ASKING PRICE of a product. To repeat, furthermore, things are traded for their mere exchange value, esp. precious metals, having nothing to do with the use of a thing. Money is the ultimate example of such a commodity, being itself exchange-value located in an object. Furthermore, the price of a product has nothing to do with its usefulness to the consumer. The price of food has in many places reached incredible lows, so much so that in some of these places the only people who are starving are the producers of food themselves. This does not make food any less a necessity of life. Whole economies, moreover, can be based upon unpaid labor (housewives, students) and sharing (agricultural and hunter-gatherer economies), providing their participants with use-values without creating any exchange values whatsoever. Exchange value only becomes important with CAPITALISM, which is why we measure profit by it and not by use-value, since capitalism is the name we give to an economy based upon engines which produce profit for capitalists.

The idea of "profit being based on use value" is therefore at best a non-sequitur, and at worst a complete falsehood. It's like saying "apple production is based upon orange production".

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