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Workers:  The Source of All Value, All Surplus Value and All  the Resulting Capitalist Looted Wealth.
Recently, Forbes magazine, a major tool of the capitalist class, reported that the "Super Rich" are hiding $21 Trillion dollars in off-shore tax-havens.  A single trillion dollars is a looooooooooo….t of money, and that amount pales besides the trillions the super rich are holding quite openly -- in factories, equipment, office buildings, agribusinesses, stocks, bonds, derivatives and ownership of magazines like Forbes and all our media industries.

Where did all that vast wealth come from?  Why are so many impoverished under our capitalist economic system, while the few gain such tremendous wealth? Karl Marx (1818 - 1883), Hegelian philosopher, political economist and practical revolutionary, asked that basic question and provided the most definitive answer to this very day in his study, Capital published in 1867.

So why does this old book strike such fear today into the hearts and minds of America's corporate owners that they virtually forbid its teaching in American universities' economics and business schools?  

Some members of our Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up group hope to explore that question and the basics of Marx's theories in a series of once monthly posts, of which this is the first, on surplus value.

We will explore other issues such as wages, profits and the falling rate of profit, accumulation of capital and the means of production, use value versus exchange value of a commodity, money as an intermediary between buying and selling commodities,  alienated labor, private property, private versus state capitalism, finance capitalism and globalization, the role of cooperatives versus unions, finance capitalism and like issues.  We'll break it up into different diaries one a month. Maybe you'll volunteer to write one too?  (Please do!).

Economics Professor Richard D. Wolff (University of Massachusetts and the New School for Social Research) provides, in his four part series of lectures on the basics of Marxian economics analysis available on his web site under "online classes". a solid, readily understandable and thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Marx's economic theories which this writer uses as her departure point.

Wolff shows how Marx discovered, by analyzing its inner-most workings in detail, why capitalism is so de-humanizing and exploitative of its workers and produces such poverty and misery for the vast majority of the population.  Marx's analysis is set forth in his "theory of Surplus Value", which is the secret to where all the trillions of wealth, both hidden and open, came from.

Professor Wolff places Marx's work into its historical and intellectual context.  Like other progressive intellectuals of his day, Marx was nourished on the slogans of the French Revolution of  Liberté, égalité, and fraternité.  He questioned why the transition from feudalism to capitalism had not brought the promised freedoms to the society.

Marx started out as academic philosopher of the Hegelian school, then applied Hegel's dialectical method to analyzing the practical economic reality he saw around him.  Writing between roughly 1840 and 1883, when the capitalist economic system was gaining total dominion over economic life and  submerging the old European feudalism in the wake of the French Revolution of 1792. The aristocracy and the Catholic church were ousted from their hegemony, the industrial capitalists had taken over the reigns of economic and political power.  

Professor Richard D. Wolff, in his lectures, demonstrates how Marx discovered, by analyzing its inner-most workings in detail in his work, Capital, why capitalism is so de-humanizing and exploitative of its workers and produces such poverty and misery for the vast majority of the population.  Marx's analysis is set forth in his "theory of Surplus Value" within "Capital", which is the secret to where all the trillions of wealth, both hidden and open, came from.  

Marx looked at the actual production process in the average factory of his day and saw that this is where the pernicious exploitation process of capitalism has its start and its motive force.  The capitalists'  profits are generated from the stolen labor power of the workers.  

First, the worker, no longer having land to farm as under feudalism, gives up his control over his own work day, selling his work day, his labor power, to the factory owner for a fixed sum, thus his labor has itself become a commodity.  The owner, depending on the vagaries of the supply of available workers, pays the workers as little as possible for his labor time, hoping to extract as much labor as possible in return.  In Marx's time, 15 hour work days were not uncommon.  

Let's use a rug factory as our simplified example here to describe the process of extraction of this value.  In a 10 hour work day, the weaver, using the power loom machines  owned by the employer might produce 10 rugs. (The machines are one form of the "capital" owned by the capitalist.)

The owner, having bought the work day for sufficient to keep the worker fed and surviving, perhaps the equivalent of two rugs, now has 8 additional rugs to sell in the market.  The capitalist owner has effectively appropriated 8 rugs of "surplus value"  from the worker.  

If he can, the owner will try to reduce the worker's wage as low as he can, perhaps to the equivalent of one rug, but if there is shortage of workers in the town, he might be forced to pay the worker the equivalent of 3 or even 4 rugs, thus reducing the surplus labor he can appropriate.  Workers with specialized skills likewise may be paid more than unskilled workers as their skills may be harder to find.

Once extracted from the worker, the capitalist owner is free to distribute the value of his 8 rugs anyway he sees fit, and those decisions may determine whether the business thrives or declines, depending on the vagaries of the market and/or his competition in the rug business, but the theft of the surplus labor is complete upon the end of the working day for the worker.  

The worker's labor has produced much more than he has been paid, that is the "surplus"  in the Theory of Surplus Value.

Marx focused on the extraction of surplus value under capitalism because that was the critical aspect which determines all the other consequences and machinations.   It is precisely from this stolen surplus labor that the trillions of dollars in wealth owned or controlled by the wealthy, the big corporations or even the State,  derive.  It is simply the surplus value that has been accumulated over time as savings or turned into newer and bigger factories, machines, corporations.

Living human labor is the only source of value and the human being is the only "machine"  from which the capitalist can extract a surplus.  The capitalist may buy a new machine to add to his fleet of machines (his "means of production"), but that machine has a fixed price and a fixed operable "life".  The owner cannot extract more use from that machine than it was designed to produce and what he paid for it.

Huge Amounts of Fixed Capital Machinery Here, But These Robots, Unlike Human Beings, won't produce a Penny of Profit.
A worker, on the other hand, can be made to work for forced over-time, forced to produce 15 rugs in a 15 hours day rather than 10 in a 10 hour day, or, with a superior machine, to produce 15 rugs rather than 10 in the 10 hour work day, at relatively little more cost  to the owner.

But the pernicious nature of capitalism extends beyond the mere economic deprivation suffered by the workers, its process of depriving the worker of the use of his mind and creativity, depriving him of control over the conditions of his work, depleting him of the energy to live a fully human life.

Thus, in the auto industry in Detroit in its heyday, the workers not only had to work "forced"  over-time, but the speed of the assembly line was increased as much as possible to likewise increase the surplus produced.  Recently, with the help of the federal government and the UAW auto union, the company was allowed to pay new workers less than the former "union wage", obviously increasing the amount of surplus value and thus profits available to the employer, a process that not only diminished the wages of the workers, but the very power of their union to protect them.

Clearly, putting a few workers on the board of directors of a company or giving workers minority shares of company stock will not fundamentally change the capitalist production process, nor will mandating that corporations give a certain percentage of their profits to charity, even expropriating companies and titling them in the name of the state will not do so-- or  any of the other schemes that are touted in the attempt to make capitalism kinder or more equitable, none of this abolishes the extraction of surplus value, and thus capitalism exploitation and all the evils that flow from it, continues a pace.  

Capitalism steals not only surplus value from the worker, but his very humanity, his energy, his autonomy, his right to think creatively, to determine the conditions of his work life, the right to be treated as a whole human being with a body and a mind.

In Detroit in the 1950's and 60's, the union fought only for higher hourly wages or related financial benefits while the rank and file workers were fighting for their humanity, for  control over the speed of the assembly line and an end to forced over-time.  

These workers wanted better and more humane working conditions, not merely more money.  They objected to being turned into commodities themselves which were thrown away when their useful work lives were ended.  They objected to the fact that they were treated as things, not thinking, creative human beings.  

For more voices direct from the auto assembly lines see the excellent booklet, Workers Battle Automation,written by  Charles Denby, a Black auto worker and editor of Marxist-Humanist newspaper, " News & Letters" , detailing the struggles of auto assembly line workers in Detroit in the 1950's and 1960s.  

Workers Battle Automation described in detail and the fight against the constantly increasing speed of the assembly line.  Obviously, by speeding up the assembly line, the bosses could increase the number of cars produced per hour, and thus the amount of surplus value extracted from the workers.  See also Denby's autobiography Indignant Heart,  as well as his editorials published by News & Letters.  All are accessible through News & Letters.

It is only when the workers in a given factory or workplace join together to re-appropriate the previously stolen labor in its machines and buildings, join together to  decide what to produce, how it will be produced, and how the proceeds will be distributed that their labor can cease to be a commodity, cease to be alienated from them.  It is critical to break down the division of mental and manual labor in the work place so that all the workers, democratically, control the conditions of their labor and the distribution of its proceeds.  It is crucial to abolish capitalist production and its consequences and create a human basis for not only production of goods but for our human communities.

Originally posted to Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Meetup.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:00:08 PM PDT

  •  Hello friends. (12+ / 0-)

    Great to able to check in. I am bookmarking this for later reading- as its a Justina essay, I know its going to be dauntingly informative.

    Hope everyone is enjoying a restful Sunday.

    "Vulture/Voucher 2012"? ¡Venceremos!

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:07:46 PM PDT

  •  I may volunteer for a diary perhaps on finance (10+ / 0-)

    capital or perhaps on the problem of property, or ideology

    Economics Professor Richard D. Wolff (University of Massachusetts and the New School for Social Research) provides, in his four part series of lectures on the basics of Marx's economic analysis. available on his web site, www.rdwolff.com,  a solid, readily understandable and thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Marx's economic theories which this writer uses as her departure point.

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:11:27 PM PDT

    •  Great anniell! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, DavidW, annieli, Pluto

      Thanks for your willingness to write a post.  Could you be sure we have your e-mail address so we can work out exactly when and what?

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:17:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love these lines from Michael Parenti (8+ / 0-)

  •  Our pockets. (7+ / 0-)

    Our pensions.  Our work.  Out of our mouths.  Our brains.  Our muscles.

  •  I would like to see more employee owned companies (8+ / 0-)

    Each year tens of thousands of small and medium sized businesses are sold in the US. This will continue to grow as business owner baby boomers look to sell their privately owned companies and retire. I am working on some ideas that would allow workers to at least compete for purchasing these companies and plan to write a diary in early 2013 when I have completed my research outlining my proposal.

    The small and medium sized company sector has recently started to receive more attention from private equity funds and I would much rather see companies in the hands of the current employees.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 03:37:43 PM PDT

    •  When Workers Truly "Own" the Company, ..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, tardis10, TPau

      when they totally control what they produce, how they produce it and how the fruits of their labor are distributed, they are no longer employees and capitalist ownership is at an end.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:27:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point Justina! (0+ / 0-)
      •  Just changed my mind -- while internally the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, Funkygal

        workers have democracy, their coop is generally still in a capitalist market world.  What are the relations of these workers like with other competing cooperatives? Mondragon is a good example.  Although they try to maintain a more "cooperative" system, eventually pressures from a capitalist world start creeping in -- there is an ever greater (still good, but greater)difference between what workers and managers are paid, they have more people at this time hired as employees than they have cooperative members, etc.  I am very active promoting cooperatives as transitional ecnomic forms, but I don't think you can just pretend that we don't still live in a competitive capitalist system and that we don't have to act like capitalists in the market, even if we are as good as we can be internally in our coops.

        •  I have been wrestling with the same questions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justina

          GeminiJen. There are 2 food co-ops here which lately have been mimicking the corporations. One of them hired a anti-union law firm during a labor dispute (but backed off thanks to alert customers who gave them their piece of mind). Another one supposedly is hiring staff on part-time basis to escape from providing healthcare, benefits etc. I am wondering if this proves the limits of reformism in the corrupt capitalist system.

          "The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”. - George Carlin

          by Funkygal on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 04:52:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Are you connected to the USWorkers Cooperative Ass (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, Justina, tardis10, TPau

      .    They are doing quite a bit of work on this. I think they even have a special funding group to help retiring bosses turn their businesses into coops.  Two good contacts if you are not already working with them are:
       1) unioncoops@lists.usworker.coop
       2)Melissa & Stephanie
          US Federation of Worker Cooperatives
          PO Box 170701  
        San Francisco, California 94117

    •  2012 is the year of the Coop! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 01:24:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would love to read this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, Justina

    "Vulture/Voucher 2012"? ¡Venceremos!

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:08:01 PM PDT

  •  ACM post schedule (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen, Justina, annieli, TPau, Funkygal

    Nov 4th: NY brit expat on the neoliberal (and Austrian economic school) lie that the state cannot create jobs or economic growth

    Nov 11th: Geminijen: part II on Marxist education discussion
    Nov 18th: UnaSpenser and NY brit expat on Capitalism, Competition, Justice and Fairness
    Nov 25th:

    Dec 2nd:
    Dec 9th:
    Dec 16th:
    Dec 23rd:
    Dec 30th:

    We have openings, perhaps people can volunteer for slots? We need volunteers to keep the blog going. Can anyone take a slot, please reply here or send a personal message to ny brit expat here on dkos or to the group email at: dkanticapitalistgroup@gmail.com

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:09:09 PM PDT

    •  It's not on Marxist education or non-Marxist (4+ / 0-)

      education -- it's on how to keep public education for the community and not let people privatize it -- which is certainly a public/socialist? concept, but is supported by many people who would identify themselves in many different ways - not just as Marxists.

      •  Thanks Geminijen ... appreciate the clarification (0+ / 0-)

        it has been a day, sorry for the error!

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:44:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  how about 30 December (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, Justina

      I will either do the part II of my earlier piece or on ideology, property, or finance capital.

      yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

      by annieli on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:01:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you! that is fantastic! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli

        December 30th is yours Annieli! :)

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:10:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A Wonderful Post Justina! (4+ / 0-)

    Wonderful description of where all this wealth of the capitalists comes from Justina!

    There are is a strict biological limit to how low they capitalists can reduce wages if they want to ensure the subsistence and biological reproduction of the workforce. Undermining that means that they do not have the next generation of workers. In most countries, workers have a wage which is socially recognised and which changes over time and has different goods in different countries in recognition of the different goods workers consume in different countries at different times (today's consumption bundle may have some goods which are the same as in the 19th century, but also very different ones like electricity, fridges, telephones, tv which did not exist back then) which is difficult to undermine, but that is exactly what is happening in most of the advanced capitalist world today.

    An additional important point relates to how they try and reduce the value of labour power, that is the amount of time it takes to produce the subsistence and reproduction of the working class; that is through the introduction of machinery in the sectors that produce workers consumption goods thereby reducing the amount of time it takes to produce goods that workers consume and thus more time is available for production of surplus value. But this has a contradictory result, introduction of machinery both relatively and absolutely reduces the need for human labour and lowers wages, but in the absence of consumption, capitalists cannot sell their goods at a price which gets them the profits (realises the surplus value in the goods). This leads to periods of overproduction (or underconsumption) and this forms the basis for one of the crisis theories in Marx's Capital. This all derives from the internal mechanisms of profitability or laws of motion of the capitalist system.

    Sorry for the late comment, technical difficulties abound it seems!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:31:56 PM PDT

    •  Shipping Jobs to Third World Countries.... (3+ / 0-)

      Is a Two-Edged Sword

      By sending their factories over-seas, owners try to reduce the amount they must pay the workers there, who generally have a much reduced cost of living.  Thus, they can be kept alive and working for lower costs.

      Sophisticated machinery reduces the cost of each item produced, but their cost is fixed, no "surplus labor"  can be realized there, and the labor value of the worker's labor in each piece is reduced or spread to a greater quantity of goods.  (Sophisticated machines also break-down and require highly skilled workers to fix them.  They demand to be paid well and may be very hard to find  in third-world countries.)

      This machinery may reduce the cost of each individual item, but the owner has to sell many more items to keep the mass of his profits flowing.  

      This can be a problem if others in the same business are likewise using the fancy equipment and producing more " widgets" too.  The market can become saturated with goods, forcing the owner of factory 1 to reduce his prices and thus his profits.  The guy who buys the newest and fastest machine makes out like the bandit he is, but only until others in the industry have similar equipment.

      The other side of the coin is that there needs to be enough buyers of the widgets to keep the cycle going.  Taking jobs away from higher paid workers to give them to lower paid workers may reduce the size of the market for the goods, thus cutting into the owner's rate of profit.

      One way the owners attempt to hold on to their market share is to buy-out competitive companies.  Thus we get the concentration of productive capital in fewer and fewer hands.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:02:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not so sure about (3+ / 0-)

        this part of your analysis:

        "Sophisticated machinery reduces the cost of each item produced, but their cost is fixed, no "surplus labor"  can be realized there, and the labor value of the worker's labor in each piece is reduced or spread to a greater quantity of goods.  ...

        This machinery may reduce the cost of each individual item, but the owner has to sell many more items to keep the mass of his profits flowing."

        But I literally don't feel well enough tonight to comment in any depth.

        I do know, however, that any understanding of this phenomena requires deployment of the concept of combined and uneven development, for a big part of this is capital's ability to take advantage of varying standards of living on both sides of the equation (dialectics): Not just low wages in underdeveloped countries, but high wages/high consumption in the developed world. It's a hell of a profitable thing to make a pair of shoes for 50 cents in Vietnam and then sell them for $100 in the US.

        Perhaps someone else, with a working brain, can comment further.

        This is a very important diary.

        "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

        by Le Gauchiste on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:16:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You just explained the part I felt was missing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, isabelle hayes

        from the discussion of surplus labor.  Your diary explained the "how" of surplus labor exploitation, but it didn't explain the "why" of the expolitation -- how the dynaimcs of capitalist competition under mass production requires each capitalist to make each individual good cheaper by cutting the cost of labor and that he sell more and more or them so he can stay competitive--at a certain point, he has to buy out his competitors to survive.  The main point Marx made about this, however, is that it is not because the big owners are greedy (a personal moral value) that they keep concentrating their wealth, but it is an inherent dynamic that they can't stop doing if they are to survive. As Sweezy says, this explains the "why" of exploiitation and the inherent contradiction and flaw in the capitalist dynamic.

        I hope to write a diary on this toward the end of December and hope you will give your input.

  •  Could you fix your links? The way you have put the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat

    them in, the first part says "www.dailykos....and then the real link follows, but if you click, it won't go there.

  •  Hey Justina, this article is an excellent start to (5+ / 0-)

    our series and I think explains one of the most basic concepts if you want to understand how we ended up with the 1% and the 99%.  I hope, however, that we will be open not just to self-identified Marxists, but to all of us at ACM who consider ourselves progressive --whether we define ourselves as anarchists, social democrats, just part of the 99%, etc.  so that we can have a real discussion of where we agree and where we disagree and why.  Of course,  I am naturally going to think I've got the answers (I am a Marxist) as will everyone else.  But that is the nice thing about this group -- we can actual talk to each other on this site and, at this transformative a point in history, we are bound to learn from each other and grow and broaden our theories, cause nothing stays exactly the same forever--even marx (i.e., your own discussion of how the new managerial class (whether public or private) relates to the "owners of production" concept is an interesting case in poiont).  

    •  Agree Absolutely, Geminijen. (3+ / 0-)

      I hope we have lots of different perspectives reflected in our posts and comments.  

      Opposing ideas make for much livelier discussions and can advance us all.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:09:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry I was so late getting to the diary--in NYC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, Justina, UnaSpenser

    we are preparing for a big storm. they shut down the subways and evacuated lower Manhattan near the shoreline.

  •  Great post! (4+ / 0-)

    I have just one quibble: Marx himself was quite adamant that labor is not the source of all wealth. From the first sentence of his "Critique of the Gotha Program" (1875):

    "Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power. The above phrase is to be found in all children's primers and is correct insofar as it is implied that labor is performed with the appurtenant subjects and instruments. But a socialist program cannot allow such bourgeois phrases to pass over in silence the conditions that alone give them meaning."

    In my view, Marx was especially prescient here, for by reminding us of the critical role of Nature, he laid the foundations for a socialist critique of capital's rape of the planet.

    "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

    by Le Gauchiste on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:48:19 PM PDT

    •  wealth is different from value (5+ / 0-)

      labour is the source or foundation of value. Wealth (whether in the form of commodities owned by the capitalists, in their money form, developed land) are the creation of the combination of land, labour and capital. This is a direct response to earlier socialist and anarchist arguments that argued that labour and labour alone creates wealth; this is inaccurate. However, only labour can increase the value of things that they produce by the direct and deliberate production of things that are produced for the purpose of exchange. Capital as means of production is created by the application of human labour and raw materials which are also obtained through the use of human labour.

      Land in and of itself does not add to the value of agricultural goods produced for the market. But in the absence of land, agricultural goods are for the most part  not producible (ignoring hydroponics for the moment). That is why land is needed for the creation of wealth, but does not in and of itself add to the exchange value of commodities. Even if apples are produced spontaneously, they still require human labour to get them off the tree whether for personal consumption or whether for sale. In the absence of direct and deliberate human endeavour, fish stay in the sea, crops lie ungathered in the field (if they spring up spontaneously), creating more than accidents, it is human labour which creates not only personal consumption, goods for personal trade, the production for exchange ... this holds in all systems. Under capitalism (as opposed to earlier forms of capital such as financial and commercial capital), the difference is that where labour owned and operated the tools (axes, arrows, hoes, etc) and machines (hand looms, spinning wheels), these capital goods become privately owned and controlled; this alienation is not only from tools and machinery, but from the activities of humans as creative individuals. We become under the control of machines, rather than using machines to create.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:09:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Alienation is also caused when we are divided (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, isabelle hayes

        from ourselves as if we were just workers or just consumers which is what happens in a commodity/market economy where there is always a buyer and seller.  Instead of growing and eating our own food, the half of the person who is a worker grows the food and demands more money for his/her work while the consumer who buys the food wants the cheapest price possible pitting us at war with ourselves. The clearest current example is workers who want certain safety rights or better hours but since this would cut down the profit of the "shareholders"(most of these folks are also workers somewhere), the company doesn't give the workers in production their rights. This is why coops can only work when there are no outside shareholders.  If you are a worker/shareholder, the two parts of yourself are reunited.

    •  Good Point, Le Gauchiste! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geminijen, isabelle hayes

      It is human labor transforming the materials derived from  nature which Marx emphasizes.  He foresaw man working in harmony with nature, directly contrary to what our capitalist economy does.  We are destroying nature and ourselves, as we humans are natural beings as well.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 05:16:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sitting here listening to the roar of the wind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justina

    am so happy to learn of the plans to enlighten those of us who haven't yet explored the subject sufficiently

    specifically, i certainly know of the phrase "surplus value" but hadn't yet read enough to be sure of what it means, but here it is --explained quite clearly so easily understood

    am looking forward to the acm enterprise that's in the works

    the analysis is (almost) able to drown out the wind gusts and the unease with Mother Nature

    •  Thanks Isabelle Hayes! (0+ / 0-)

      How about writing something for the series?

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 06:17:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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