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View Diary: Conservative misunderstanding of the economy: The fundamental issue of the hour. (63 comments)

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  •  I know you don't read (0+ / 0-)

    actual responses. My initial criticism of Marx is contained in what I wrote about the absurd conceptions of labor and value you put forward. I explained what I thought and why. You, however, have done little more than dismiss them with insults, not substance.

    You put forward silly assertions, such as "capitalism was built on slavery and genocide," that you imagine are so glaringly obvious as to need neither definition nor defense. Sorry, but they do. You likewise toss about terms such as capitalism, slavery, genocide, neoliberalism, etc. as if everyone had already agreed on what these things refer to and that something called capitalism had caused them. Sorry—needs work. A lot of work.

    In any case, I need not distort Marx in the slightest. He bases his convoluted theories on undemonstrated and undemonstrable declarations that property is merely expropriation and that the only source of value is labor (understood as an undifferentiated product). From this it must follow that even ordinary commerce is the trafficking in unjustly acquired goods made possible by the unjust exploitation of the labor of others. Since I reject the most fundamental of his assertions, I easily reject what follows from them.

    And I haven't even yet gotten to the seriously wacky Hegel-on-his-head stuff with the inevitability of historical movement and, my very favorite, the reification of consciousness (I suspect yours may suffer from this dire malady). And, of course, we have those great moments of prescience, in which Karl foretold the steadily  lengthening working day (because of automation), the proletariat everywhere thrown into dire poverty, and, of course, the absolutely inevitable rising up and overthrowing of the capitalist exploiters.

    That's a good top-of-my-head start. But please, wake me when the revolutionary vanguard gets to the gates—I'll want be there to help pass out the Adidas and iPads.

    •  Yes, I've read your responses. (0+ / 0-)

      And, no, you didn't critique Marx prior to this silly attempt.

      Marx didn't say the workday would lengthen because of automation. He said automation would put people out of work. Thus increasing the army of surplus workers, which further erodes Labor power and wages. He witnessed the lengthening of the workday first hand, and was correct about that. Capitalists lengthened it in order to increase their surplus value. Instead of raising wages, they demanded Labor work longer hours at the same pay rate.

      Today, they call that "increased productivity."

      And, yes, the proletariat was thrown into dire poverty, and Marx was by no means alone in writing about this. Ever hear of a fellow named Charles Dickens? Or, maybe Upton Sinclair? Or, perhaps, John Steinback -- just to name three novelists.

      Marx was actually quite mainstream in his analysis of a factual, existing tragedy. But, because he told the truth about people in power, he was demonized, and still is demonized, by those people in power. And those in power have a ton of resources at their disposal to make that demonization happen and, unfortunately, stick.

      They can't actually defend their own system, so they've done all they can to bury those who are opposed to it. They can't argue with Marx and those who have built upon his legacy, toe to toe, idea for idea, so they make sure they're not even allowed into the conversation.

      And you repeat their dirty work for them. You drank the plutocratic koolaid, and it's blinded you. Or, you know capitalism is a cancer, and you just don't care. You'd rather be on the winning side right now -- to hell with the losers.

      I still don't think you're a teacher. And if you are, as I mentioned in that other thread, I pity your students.

      •  Pity (0+ / 0-)

        Mine is for your inability to distinguish between perfectly ordinary sorts of inequalities and injustices that are expected between rich and poor and between employer and employee, and the vast, vapid spinning of an imaginary web of historical inevitabilities, class consciousnesses, and what-all that is the Marxian 'analysis' and then revolutionary prescription. Instead, let me suggest a week with Aristotle's Politics and Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality. You will then know all you need to know about how the world works, and you will not need the clutter of Marx or Marxists.

        And once again, you spout platitudes about capitalism and cancer and plutocratic kool-aid with the assurance of the True Believer who feels not the slightest necessity to prove his point. And rest assured, you haven't.

        Nor have you understood Dickens, a man who saw life's injustices clearly—even those of the French Revolution. As for Upton Sinclair, I always thought that it said a great deal about how poorly he understood human nature that it puzzled him how he could aim his Jungle at the nation's head but only hit its stomach. There is also something perpetually entertaining about the Lanny Budd books—a Socialist zillionaire who zips from soirée to champagne soirée in his latest fast car, that champion of the of masses who could both have and eat his cake. I'm afraid I'm rather down on Steinbeck, ever since it was discovered that much of his Travels With Charlie was actually a fictional confection of imaginary conversations, with Steinbeck spending more nights in comfy hotels than in that trailer. Me, I suggest you rent Ninotchka again—more verisimilitude.

        BTW, you ought to know your boy Karl a little better. Even I, whose copy of Capital has languished in the basement for probably 20 years, had little trouble finding this discussion of how mechanization undoubtedly will lengthen the work day. Ah, Marxian prescience!

        Like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of the working-day, in which the labourer works for himself, to lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, to the capitalist. In short, it is a means for producing surplus-value....

        When machinery is first introduced into an industry, new methods of reproducing it more cheaply follow blow upon blow, and so do improvements, that not only affect individual parts and details of the machine, but its entire build. It is, therefore, in the early days of the life of machinery that this special incentive to the prolongation of the working day makes itself felt most acutely.

        Given the length of the working day, all other circumstances remaining the same, the exploitation of double the number of workmen demands, not only a doubling of that part of constant capital which is invested in machinery and buildings, but also of that part which is laid out in raw material and auxiliary substances. The lengthening of the working day, on the other hand, allows of production on an extended scale without any alteration in the amount of capital laid out on machinery and buildings. Not only is there, therefore, an increase of surplus-value, but the outlay necessary to obtain it diminishes. [italics added]

        I'm tempted to say, just as you gratuitously call me a liar with regard to my employment, I should suspect that you've never actually read the Marx you proudly wave about. OTOH, who could really blame you for not wishing to read the unreadable.?

        •  You are a very, very poor reader. (0+ / 0-)

          Marx is clearly saying -- as he says elsewhere in his writings -- that a laborer will work a certain portion of his day to earn his wages, but the rest of the time he works to create surplus value for his employer. In the three sections you cite, that is what he is talking about.

          And this is empirically true.

          (That is what he means by the lengthening of the day)

          For instance, a typical worker on an auto-parts assembly line earns his day's pay in his or her first hour. For the next seven hours, he or she works to increase profit for the boss.

          Or, to put it another way: In order to match output with wage, that worker need only work an hour. The rest is pure gravy for his employer, none of which he shares.

          •  Reading comprehension (0+ / 0-)

            Let's try it in simple bits for those challenged by long sentences.
            quote 1: machinery produces things for less money. Without it, much of what is paid for in labor goes into the value of the product. Lengthen the working day, however, and labor becomes a much lower percentage of the cost, creating so-called surplus value which goes to the capitalist, not the laborer.
            quote 2: machinery, especially when first introduced, incentivizes a lengthening of  the working day
            quote 3: mechanization results in a longer working day because longer hours for labor are a cheaper way of producing more stuff than putting in either new buildings or more machinery

            In all cases, supposedly mechanization results in longer hours, QED. And that was the point I originally made. You really aren't capable of understanding this stuff, are you?

            If you don't understand the role of historical inevitability in Marx, you've pretty much missed it all—it is the source of his claim to have stood Hegel on his head. The reason I know this, is because I have read Marx, not relied on secondary sources of the kind you apparently depend on.

            Similarly, although I thank you for your patronizing "did you know this?" about Marx's background, you will be shocked to learn that I already knew this récherché information. Not only that, but I have read his thesis on ancient materialism, have read much of Aristotle—and Smith and Ricardo—and did my thesis on Rousseau. Frankly, although Marx claims a debt to Aristotle in Part I of Capital, I wouldn't have said that he knew Aristotle backwards and forwards—more like he misunderstood some key thoughts. Marx was very well educated. He was nevertheless severely handicapped by misunderstandings of all sorts of things, economics above all.

            You should consider in future trying more assiduously to remain within your limits, narrow though they may be.
            But now, you having grown perfectly tiresome, I will not be looking back in here. You have a pleasant evening.

            •  You're a pompous, egotistical ass. (0+ / 0-)

              And you haven't earned that error.

              Judging from your Let Them Eat Cake attitude, I would imagine that you're an insufferable prig as well.

              Again, if you are a teacher -- which I doubt all the more with each post from you -- I pity your students. I really pity them. They're going to have to deprogram themselves and burn away the WASPish, snotty bullshit you've dumped on their young heads.

              Oh, and please keep your promise. Don't come back. And don't respond to me elsewhere. Two threads is two too many.

        •  On "historical inevitabilities" (0+ / 0-)

          If you think that was at the top of Marx's list, or anyone who built upon his legacy, then you truly don't understand Marxism at all.

          Found a pretty good article on the topic from G. A. Cohen, one of best of recent Marxist scholars.

          Historical Inevitability

          BTW, Marx was a great scholar of Greek and Roman culture and history. He did his PHD thesis on Democritus and Epicurus. He knew his Aristotle backward and forward, as well as Rousseau and the philosophes. He built on the studies of Adam Smith and Ricardo as well. In fact, he was easily one of the most learned men of his century, and a voracious reader of the classics and his contemporaries. People forget that. They forget that he stood on the shoulders of giants, and was a giant for others in turn.

        •  Also: About those "perfectly ordinary . . . " (0+ / 0-)
          perfectly ordinary sorts of inequalities and injustices that are expected between rich and poor and between employer and employee

          Care to elaborate? You sound like you're sitting in your plush chair in Versailles as you write the above.

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