- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More conceptual goulash

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on November 03, 1999 at 13:07:49:

In Reply to: use-exchange-profit and a lack of exploitation. posted by Gee on November 01, 1999 at 14:15:27:

: The post I made below regarding the labor theory of value sparked some interesting debate (and some pointless sniping). The purpose was not to 'bury' the LTV but to conclude that neither it, nor any other useful economic model offers 'scientific' proof of exploitation.

SDF: Actually, the LTV provides a circular, or tautological, proof of "exploitation" because of the way it defines the word "exploitation".

: In previous discussion with RD, in which I learned a fair bit, I came to the conclusion expressed since that LTV must be 'tacked on' post exchange to produce data on 'labor value' from which mathematical models purport to calculate the amount of 'surplus value' exploited from the worker. I also concluded that profits are the wage of the entreprenuer, I shall explain this in the form of a 'light' story.

SDF: But the entrepreneur does not WORK for his or her profit! Investment is NOT WORK! Basically what you're saying is that you reject the LTV out of hand, because you wish to characterize profits as wages.


: Profits are the difference between the use-value (expressed in the exchanged value, not as some disembodied concept)

SDF: Here, abstraction is called reality, and reality abstraction. Exchange values are not the embodiment of use-values, since exchange-value is an abstraction and not an embodiment, whereas use-value is the material embodiment of the use of a thing in the thing itself. Rather, PRICES are the embodiment of exchange values, and product prices (as I have pointed out in detail before) bear at most a tangential relation to the uses of products.

: 'Exploitation' as an issue is nothing to do with calculable economics or 'science', its a moral-philosophical question about who 'deserves' what according to various people's views of what 'ought' to be the case.

SDF: Gee, that's YOUR definition of exploitation you're working with. You have proved nothing to those who define exploitation differently. Exploitation defined as the appropriation of surplus labor without remuneration to the laborer exists BY DEFINITION under capitalism. People who define exploitation thusly are not making a moral question of it, they aren't arguing anything about who deserves what. From Marx's CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAMME:

What is "a fair distribution"?

Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is "fair"? And is it not, in fact, the only "fair" distribution on the basis of the present-day mode of production? Are economic relations regulated by legal conceptions, or do not, on the contrary, legal relations arise out of economic ones? Have not also the socialist sectarians the most varied notions about "fair" distribution?

: In socialism the intent is to do away with exchange value, the concrete evidence of use-value,

SDF: Exchange value is not the concrete evidence of use value. The concrete evidence of use value is in observed instances of people using things. This is true now as it was before economies of exchange ever existed (but people were using things nevertheless). No exchange is required for me to ride my bicycle, for instance, yet in riding my bicycle I am getting "use-value" out of it. The use-value of a bicycle is therefore evidenced by my riding it, not by its price were I to sell or buy it.

: because some people have more to exchange than others and so it is inegalitarian.

SDF: Please read Marx's CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAMME in order to find out that the predominant socialist critique of capitalism, Marxism, is not based on egalitarianism. And perhaps, sometime in the distant future perhaps, please stop mischaracterizing socialism.

: What it leaves society with though are an endless stream of desires called use-values which have no objective base (not objective-utilitarian - that would requrie prioritisation of goods regardless of democratic wishes),

SDF: Such an ethical stance also places no priority on anyone's "desire" for the basic necessities of life, thus it makes no criticism of societies where large numbers of people are needlessly dying of starvation while others hoard food. Such an ethical stance furthermore refuses to acknowledge the "objective basis" of the "desire" of the starving for sustenance. Positions like this correspond to nothing more than relativism, and they evidence nothing more than the ethical egoism of the well-fed. No wonder Stoller is so angry.

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