Re: [OPE-L] Occupy/Resist/Produce Versus Value/ Exploitation/ Globalization

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Sat Oct 22 2005 - 21:54:32 EDT

Dear Jerry,

 From my perspective, there is the following necessary connection
between value and Capitalist exploitation: capitalist exploitation
exists only if there is appropriation of surplus value by
capitalists. Slave or feudal exploitation often occurs without any
relation to value, though they can also occur as forms of
appropriation of surplus value (the thing appropriated is the same
but the social relations of production through which appropriation
occurs are different crucially in the relationship between exploiting
and labouring classes.) So I do not say that "there isn't any
necessary connection between value and exploitation".

However, I do not equate value as a social relation of production
with an exploitative social relation of production. So I agree with
you that in worker owned forms operating in the market-place there is
no exploitation. However, I think that such firms operate under value
as a social relation of production: here the social relation of value
serves to coordinate production and determine in part the
distribution of wealth and income: there is discipline of the labour
of the direct producers not through the directions of an employer but
through competitive pressures to achieve sales and through that
income for technological development and "wages" (net operating
surplus shares) for the workers.

The way to put these things depends on theory and what you want to
explain. On your account "value" becomes something introduced by
capitalist social relations of production rather than the essence of
exchange relations. Price and exchange-value would then have to serve
as a social relation of production in a theory of the distributive
and production control role of the market,

>  > It depends on what the accusation is: if the accusation is that value
>>  is separated from capitalist exploitation in the workplace, then
>>  "trans-historical" (or multi-system accounts of value) need not stand
>>  accused just because they cannot say that wherever there is value
>>  production, there is capitalist exploitation (or even some form of
>>  exploitation through appropriation of surplus value, if there are
>>  systems of value production in which no exploitation occurs).
>So, from your perspective, there isn't any necessary connection
>between value and exploitation?
>Let me suggest another interpretation:  the social relations
>characteristic of workers' owned and controlled firms which
>produce products for sale is NOT value and NOT exploitive.
>Those workers are NOT exploited -- and it makes no sense, imo,
>to refer to how workers can "exploit themselves".   While they
>are connected to the capitalist economy because their products
>are sold on commodity markets,  there is a very real sense in
>which they are NOT part of the value relationship.
>Coincidentally, I saw the movie "THE TAKE" last night at a Union-
>sponsored monthly film series called "Labor Goes to the Movies."
>The poster for this film series for 2005-06 is at:
>Information on "The Take": .
>I highly recommend this film.  Some of the issues raised in the
>"bottom up" social movements in Argentina following the 2001
>economic crisis are related to the debate that we had this Spring
>between Mike L and John H and others.  (Perhaps Alberto and
>Claudio have some first-hand experience with these social
>movements in Argentina?)  In any event, given this context, I think
>that the topic of workers' ownership control of factories (and offices,
>etc.) should be something that we should talk about.
>Now, here's the way I see it:  There is obviously a sense in which
>the products made in these factories are _valued_ -- we can see
>this both on the market and through transfers of products among
>worker owned factories.  The workers themselves obviously think
>that what they are doing is _of value_ to themselves, their families,
>their communities, and their class.  However,  the social relationship
>that they are part of is NOT value.  Indeed, as a social and class
>relationship, there is a real sense in which their activities help to
>undermine the social relationship that we call value; they are
>subversive of value.
>Clearly, they themselves do not believe that they are exploited.
>Yet, they produce products with the intention of sale which
>have a use-value and an exchange value.  Some might then say that
>the products so produce express value; I would say that the products
>are valued on the market and come therefore to have a price but
>this does not mean that they express value; rather,  those products
>might be thought of expressing ANTI - value.
>In solidarity, Jerry
>>  >Consider the case of  commodities produced by producer
>>  >cooperatives in which there is worker ownership and control.
>>  >Clearly, the products produced by these cooperatives are
>>  >produced in order to be sold.  They also typically have a use-
>>  >value and an exchange value.  They thus represent value from
>>  >the perspective of those who believe that a particular social and
>>  >class relationship (that between wage-labour and capital) is not
>>  >required for the constitution of value.  Yet, there is clearly no
>>  >exploitation which necessarily arises in the case of the producer
>>  >cooperative.  Hence, the link between value and exploitation
>>  >is broken and the concept of value can exist without exploitation
>>  >in the workplace.   Paul's charge is thus misdirected:  rather
>>  >than being directed against value-form theorists and others who
>>  >emphasize the role of exchange, it should instead be directed
>>  >at those who have a trans-historical conception of value.

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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