Re: [OPE-L] SV: [OPE-L] what is irrational in the functioning of capitalism?

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Thu Nov 30 2006 - 17:11:42 EST

--- Ian Wright <wrighti@ACM.ORG> wrote:

> Hi Ajit
> > Imagine a large capitalist economy which produces
> a
> > huge amount of surplus however employs just a few
> > thousand workers (since you guys are not ready to
> > accept zero worker situation). Now, if you apply
> > Marx's calculation here, then the labor-values of
> > commodities would be close to zero and if wages
> are
> > what is necessary to reproduce the labor-power,
> then
> > the rate of profits would be quite high, and this
> high
> > rate of profits (within Marx's calculations) could
> > only be explained by a very high rate of surplus
> > value.
> So to be clear: In your example, it is not merely a
> small number of
> workers (equivalently, a direct labour vector close
> to zero), but
> additionally a small labour force that consumes a
> small real wage.
Well, Marx defines value of labor-power or real wages
as socially necessary labor-time needed to reproduce
the labor-power. I'm simply following Marx--which I
must do if I want to develop a critique of his
> In this example, the surplus-value added by this
> small workforce is
> very high. So what?
Try to explain someone that the capitalists earn
profits because the rate of exploitation is one
billion times the time the few workers put in the
factories. And you will know how persuasive your
theory of profit will sound to anyone.
> > That's why I said in the limiting case the rate
> > of surplus value will tend to infiniti.
> You need to prove that. I spent a few minutes on it.
> I'd hesitate to
> say what the limit is.
If you have problem with the word limit, just forget
about it. You understand my above example, just keep
making the number of workers less and output more and
you will see you could move from billion times to
trillion times of rate of exploitation.
> I wrote:
> > Without human labour (or something like it with
> its causal powers) then no prices and
> > hence no profits.
> Ajit wrote:
> > This is where you go wrong. An economy can be
> divided
> > into various sectors simply for technical reasons
> and
> > also private property is not contingent upon
> > wage-labor or labor of any kind. You can have
> private
> > property with sectoral division of the economy,
> where
> > market would exist with supply and demand for
> > commodities and competition among the producers.
> I have empirical reality on my side here. I didn't
> say "wage-labour"
> but "human labour". There aren't examples of
> monetary economies
> without the existence of human labour.
I have repeatedly said that my problem is a logical
one and not an empirical one. So I don't know what to
make of your answer.
 I don't
> restrict the value-form
> to capitalism. It existed long before the dominance
> of the
> wage-capital relation.
This has no bearing on my case, as I said Marx imputes
a causal relation between surplus production with
labor (in any society for that matter)
> There could be production with highly adaptive
> robots but not humans.
> In which case, I think there could be a value-form
> that refers to
> robot labour. But as I mentioned, this is not so
> interesting compared
> to a mixed economy both with robots and humans.
Then why don't you refer to computer's labor or all
kinds of machines' labor or iron and steel's labor or
copper's labor or oil's labor, etc. today? Do you get
the point? Your use of 'robot labor is a freudian slip
that has exposed the weakness of your position. As you
must know, people have already shown that there is
nothing special about labor-values as you could easily
do the same exercise with any basic commodity in the
system and get a corn or oil or steel theory of value.
> > Nothing of the market mechanics is contingent on
> the
> > existence of wage-labor.
> I follow Marx in thinking that the causal power of
> human labour
> necessarily manifests in the form of value once we
> have a reasonably
> developed division of labour and independent
> producers.
This makes no sense to me. First of all, what you
follow or who you follow is not an issue here. I'm
presenting a case that claims to contradict one of
Marx's fundamental proposition. You tell me you follow
Marx. In what way it becomes a defence of Marx? BTW,
what you say above is not following Marx, but you can
follow whatever you wish, that is not an issue here.
 You are asking
> me to imagine an economy that uses money but lacks
> abstract labour. My
> point is that the two go together.
I don't remember talking about money or abstract labor
etc. at all. You must have someone else's post mixed
up with mine
> > That's why the paradigmatic
> > explanation of the market in the general
> equilibrium
> > framework, assumes no wage labor or even
> production.
> > You just begin with given endowments (that is the
> law
> > of private property).
> There aren't supply and demand dynamics in the
> standard Arrow-Debreu
> general equilibrium. There are no money flows
> occurring in historical
> time, no waxing and waning of money and commodity
> stocks. There's no
> causal role for money. There is no reallocation of
> social labour-time.
> Even the inter-temporal approach is merely a chain
> of market-clearing
> states with prices that jump with infinite speed
> from one state to the
> next. Money and prices are imputed to the
> mathematics, but they do not
> play the causal role they do in reality. Some of
> these features are
> shared by Sraffian theory by the way. At this point
> I agree with TSS
> critique: these models are by definition incapable
> of understanding
> the relations between social labour and value. Let
> me state it as
> plainly as this: we need to develop a dynamic model
> to understand the
> theory of economic value.
This is all irrelevant to the issue. Again we are not
discussing what we need to develop etc. I'm presenting
a logical case, which I claim contradicts one of
Marx's basic propositions. Either one must accept that
it does or present the argument that it does not.
Beating about the whole forest will not get us
> I wrote:
> > _______________________________
> > > Second, I don't think your example is a state
> that
> > > can conceivably be
> > > attained under capitalism. Capitalists compete
> with
> > > each other. To do
> > > that they need to employ the creative power of
> > > labour. Any capital
> > > that reduced labour to zero will eventually have
> its
> > > constant capital
> > > rendered obsolete. So the "end state" of fully
> > > realised
> > > labour-displacing technical change cannot be on
> any
> > > feasible
> > > trajectory of capitalist dynamics.
> > ________________________
> > This makes no sense to me. Capitalists are in
> business
> > to make profits (M-M'), if a capitalist finds that
> > s/he can increase her/his profit by introducing a
> > technique that displaces labor, then why wouln't
> s/he
> > do it? As a matter of fact Marx's argument is that
> > actually the dynamics of capitalism is such that
> this
> > will keep happening--that's why my limiting case
> of
> > this dynamics is something Marxists cannot close
> their
> > eyes to.
> >
> > Again, I do not understand why constant capita (by
> > which I understand you mean machines and raw
> > materials) will be rendered obsolete if there is
> no
> > wage-labor in the system?
> My point is that -- during the historical process of
> attaining your
> hypothetical end state -- if an individual capital
> eradicates human
> labour from its production then its forces of
> production are entirely
> constant.
Why? why can't there be still competition, technical
change and increase in the productivity of the system?
Your statement is making no sense to me.
 It has become an automaton, unable to
> adapt and produce new
> surplus-value.
> Competing capitals will invest in variable capital
> and employ the
> creative powers of labour to steal its profits. The
> automaton won't
> last.
Again, it makes no sense. If you are talking about a
completely automated system, then there is no variable
capital in Marx's sense. You seem to be stuck in the
idea that only variable capital can produce surplus,
which is a proposition that I'm contradicting. Again,
I do not understand who is investing in what kind of
variable capital and steeling whose profit?
> > The point is: can there be surplus production
> without
> > surplus labor? You seem to say, yes.
> Yes it is conceivable. Rakesh's post is even simpler
> and also makes
> this point. Who can deny that it is possible to
> imagine an economy
> with prices and profits but lacks human labour? But
> I can also imagine
> a horse that talks.
As I have repeatedly said, the problem I'm talking
about is a logical one and not an empirical one and
you seem to accept that logically my point is correct.
I do not know what talking entails and what are the
capabilities of horses, so I don't know whether horses
can talk or not. By "imagine" I mean logical
possibility, given our state of knowledge.
 That doesn't mean that my theory
> of horses is
> faulty.
I won't argue with your theory of horses, because I
have none! Cheers, ajit sinha
> > And that's what
> > is my point. It becomes important because in the
> > history of political economy Marx is the first
> major
> > political economists who explicitly argues for a
> > causal relationship of surplus with
> (surplus)labor.
> > This is nothing but metaphysical. A lot of Marxist
> > intellectual energy has been stuck in the mud for
> a
> > long time simply because it confuses a
> metaphysical
=== message truncated ===

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