Re: [OPE-L] the virology and political economy of two self-reproducing non-basic products

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Oct 11 2005 - 08:23:07 EDT

Hi again Ian H:

It's easy enough to envision a scenario in why a 'spyware' type of
computer virus fully takes the commodity form.  It can be
produced with the intention of sale, have a use-value to potential
buyers, an exchange-value, and  value.  Of course, it's illegal to
sell or distribute spyware but that fact alone does not determine
whether it is or is not a commodity.

> Sraffa's book is 'production of commodities by means of commodities'.
> So I doubt a self-replicating non-commodity could count as a good
> example of a self-replicating commodity to replace the (defective)
> 'beans' example. The virus is not exchanged as a use-value with those
> who receive it, and so it is a not a commodity - nor is it a
> 'use-value' to those who receive it - in the phase of its existence
> (its use or 'consumption') when it is self-replicating.

The use-value of a greeting card is realized by the person _buying_ the
card.  In the same way, the spyware has use-value to the person buying
the software (if it was sold).  The 'gift' does not also have to have
use-value to the recipient.  For the buyer, it is a 'gift' which keeps
getting better: i.e. the virus spreads without further expenditures of
labor or means of  production yet the 'return', often taking the form of
money, keeps growing.

> But even it it were a commodity it would still not be
> self-replicating in its production phase but only in its phase of use
> or 'consumption' as a weapon, nuisance, or expression of malice,
> depending on what sort of damage it does.

The virus, having been so programmed, reproduces itself.  Why
isn't that sdelf-replicating?

> Computer viruses should be seen as black
> part of a 'gift' economy, where something bad rather than good is
> transferred, for which it would be inconceivable - outside Christian
> forgiveness ("if thy enemy smite thee, kiss him on the cheek") - for
> a good like money to be given in return by the recipient,

Yes, but gifts typically take the commodity form under capitalism:
as Milton Friedman once said -- "there's no such thing as a free

In solidarity, Jerry

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