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

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Oct 23 2005 - 10:28:30 EDT

Re: [OPE-L] Occupy/Resist/Produce Versus Value/ Exploita> 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.

Ian H:

I would express the matter differently (no surprise):  in a class society
where value rules,  all are impacted by the rule of value.  You make a
valid point when you suggest that even the workers' owned factories
are in some sense regulated by the market: e.g. (assuming that they
are in competition with capitalist firms) they can not set a price for their 
products which differs from the competitive market price without losing
revenues from sales.  Similarly, they must (as you suggest) make 
technological improvements and, in their decisions about dividing
revenues between investment and wages, must recognize that their
decisions are constrained by the context of producing goods for
sale on markets where there is competition.  In other words, the
workers' controlled factories are not an island which is totally isolated
from the capitalist economy.    One of the messages that also came 
through strongly in "The Take" is that even where the workers rejected
both Menem and Kirchner and all politicians (to the point where many
advocated not voting at all, even for leftist alternative candidates),
they were still forced in various ways to seek approval and 
legitimation from state authorities.  So, they recognized in practice that 
they could ignore neither the state nor the market:  no workers' 
cooperative is  entirely "an island" when landlocked in a capitalist 
social formation. In recognizing this reality,  workers _can_ also draw 
a revolutionary conclusion -- the need to _extend_ workers' control 
and ownership to all parts of the economy and take on the rule of 
capital and the state.  Whether or not this conclusion _is_ drawn by 
the those workers who are part of the occupation movement remains 
to be seen: clearly (as could be expected) there are major political 
divisions among these workers. 

However, just because decisions made by the workers in these
worker-owned factories have to take into account the reality that
they can not do whatever they want without regard for the market
does not mean that they produce value.  Your emphasis on value
seems to me to be on price; what I am suggesting (and you are
rejecting) is that the value relationship entails a specific social
relationship involving _class_.  By that account,  products can be
valued (i.e. have exchange-value) even where they do not represent

A I noted above,  you are correct in saying that workers' cooperatives
are constrained by the fact that they are surrounded by an economy
dominated by the rule of  value.  You haven't recognized, though, that
they are in some sense struggling _against_ the value system and are
in some sense part of an _alternative_ society growing in the hostile 
womb of  capitalism.  In that sense they represent more than not-
value; they represent _anti_-value.

In solidarity, Jerry

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