Re: [OPE-L] Albritton on Marx's value theory and subjectivity

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed Apr 12 2006 - 19:42:17 EDT

>> This subordination is then summarily *equated* with
>> indifference to use-value - "all that capitalists care about is profit",
>> the lazy leftist caricaturists claim, AND THEREFORE they do not care
>> about anything else.


The "capital personified" assumption is also an assumption about
capitalist *consumption* behavior.  I.e. if capitalists are capital
personified then they will be driven by their inner nature to "Acumulate!
Accumulate!" rather than use a greater proportion than (customarily)
necessary for individual (unproductive) consumption of surplus value.
It is, of course, easy to find exceptions to this in the form of
conspicuous consumption by individual capitalists, but I think Marx
believed that it was an assumption which corresponded broadly to
capitalist history.  Here there is a difference in interpreting
capitalist history between Marx and Veblen.  Perhaps this is a topic
that is amenable to empirical investigation: e.g. have rates of
unproductive consumption of surplus value for the purposes of
individual capitalist consumption grown, declined, or remained
stable over time and across social formations?

(A note:  I think it might be interesting to also look at how
patterns of working-class consumption have historically been affected
by patterns of capitalist consumption.  My initial thought on this is
that with the development of new mass communications technologies
[especially the television] the cross-class effect has been more
pronounced. A side note: one can probably also identify some ways in
which bourgeois consumption habits and tastes have been influenced
by the habits and tastes of workers.  But, I think the greater impact
is from capitalists to workers _because_ so many workers secretely
want to be, and fantasize about being, 'filthy' rich like capitalists.
In a perverse sense then the 'rich and famous' and their lifestyles
are both envied and copied -- to an extent allowable by the wages
of workers.)

In solidarity, Jerry

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