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

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Sun Oct 23 2005 - 19:07:59 EDT

Dear Jerry,
I agree with your comments but they translate in my terminology into
this: the workers are resisting capitalist exploitation (they are
anti-capitalist). This sounds a bit less confusing to me: of course,
if one is embarrassed about a 'price' role for Marx's concept of
value, then your terminology suggests itself as a way to retain the
term 'value' but avoid attributing any market regulatory role to it,
reserving that for 'price' (either long run, ie with cost-minimizing
technology technology or medium run, ie with supply demand balance
but coexistence of more and less productive technologies).
I am not embarrassed with retaining a 'price' regulatory role for
'value': for me the concept of value operates as the 'essence' of
price competition, which in Marx's view is that it tends to increase
labour productivity (Marx may also have given it more than a
tendential role in regulating labour productivity but that can't be
sustained, I think).
But, our respective terminologies aside, it seems we agree
substantively on workers control of firms,

>  > 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

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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