[OPE-L:7462] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: definitely not about Ch. 5

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu Jul 25 2002 - 02:37:49 EDT


first a substantive issue. Albritton seems to argue that the law of 
value only regulates capitalist production when labor power has been 
fully commodified for the following reason:

for  production to be subordinated to the maximal valorization of 
value, capitalists have to be indifferent to use value, and such 
indifference can only rest on the foundation of the more or less full 
commodification of labor power. For example, firms can only easily 
disinvest  to the extent that labor costs are not fixed as they are 
in slavery, and firms can only freely enter extra profitable 
industries if they can easily draw from a free wage labor pool not 
tied down by extra economic coercion.

I don't think this argument is quite successful in connecting the 
regulatory power of the law of value to the commodification of labor 

After all, slavery did not necessarily prevent capitalists from 
achieving indifference to use value. Fogel argues that American 
slavery was a highly flexible, efficient form of capitalism. 
Plantation owners were quite adept at shifting their crop mixes in 
response to price signals; slaves were rented out to mfg enterprises 
when this was most profitable; slaves were sold to other plantation 
capitalists who could exploit them more intensively.

So far, I think Weeks has the best argument for the connection 
between the regulatory power of the law of value and the full 
commodification of labor power.  And I don't think it quite works in 
the case of modern plantation slavery in part because the means of 
subsistence can be monetized to some extent without the 
commodification of labor power.

Now of course Albritton agrees with this to some extent. He considers 
merchant payment to craftsman in the putting out system as piece 
wages, though of course these craftsmen were not formally speaking 
free wage workers since they had nominal control of the means of 

Now to our acrimony--the question of whether you need to chill out or 
whether I am chilling speech.

>   What's more, I think it would have a seriously chilling effect on 
>our discussions if every time A asks B for his or her opinion about 
>author C, B has stop and consider that possibility that his or her 
>comments will be forwarded to C for refutation.

What you call a chilling effect I would call a honing effect. It did 
not even occur to me that people submit criticism to public archives 
(which are not private offlist emails) without stopping to consider 
the refutations which could be offered. If I submit a criticism to a 
publically accessible forum, I look forward to the possibility of a 
reply in my in box. Otherwise, I do not submit it public.  I also 
think that it is perfectly obvious that there is a right of rebuttal 
to criticism made in a publically accessible forum.

If your criticism is very tentative, then submit it privately and 
offlist. In this case you could have sent your post to Michael L or 
me offlist so there need not have been a chilling effect.

What should be chilled--that is disallowed--is the making of 
criticism of someone in a publically accessible forum without 
allowing--nay, encouraging-- that person's rebuttal. Especially if 
that person is a fellow critical theorist.

>  Our discussions are by their nature tentative, and should not be 
>taken presumptively as serious indictments of others' work for which 
>they automatically deserve the opportunity for rebuttal.

Now who's doing the chilling? People don't deserve the opportunity 
for rebuttal even if they have been criticized in a publically 
accessible forum?.

>  Furthermore there's the ever-present danger that some listmembers 
>might use this as a selective threat to discourage the making of 
>arguments they dislike.

Again I don't consider it a threat but a dialectical opportunity if 
my criticism is submitted to the person I criticized. I--nay we--may 
learn something from discussion, each changing our position.

>I take this as a very serious matter for the list and ask that it be 
>taken up by Jerry and the oversight committee.



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