Re: [OPE-L] exploitation and consumption

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Jun 08 2007 - 12:05:11 EDT

Hi Jurriaan:

A few short comments and questions:

>  But this does not imply that *in reality* the exchange will
> necessarily be an equal exchange, nor that many other forms of
> exploitation
> exist or are also possible. Among other things, workers can exploit
> workers, and capitalists can exploit other capitalists.

How do you see workers exploiting workers and capitalists exploiting
capitalists?  Re the latter, do you believe that quasi-rent should be
viewed as exploitation? Re the former,  are you thinking of workers
_employing_ workers (e.g. higher-paid workers employing a 'nanny' to
look after their children) or something else?

> Orthodox Marxism says workers are only sellers of labour-power (actors in
> a  labour market) but this is obviously ridiculous - they are also buyers
> of  commodities, and there is a profit impost on these commodities, which
> can  also be bought above or below their value. Consequently workers
> can in  principle be shortchanged twice over.

I agree with that point, especially if we're talking about late capitalism
where most commodities which are purchased by workers are sold by

> For orthodox Marxism the sphere of consumption doesn't really exist, even
> although Marx himself defines economic life as the totality of production,
> distribution, circulation and consumption. Ever since Stalin's "priority
> of  heavy industry", the sphere of consumption has been theoretically
> neglected  in orthodox Marxist theory.

I think you could trace that trend to a period of time long before Stalin.
Don't you think it was manifest in late 19th and early 20th Century
German-Austrian social democratic thought (e.g. in the writings of Kautsky)?
Perhaps as far back as Engels?

> If we were to complete Marx's theory of capital, we would among other
> things
> have to show how capital reshapes or restructures the sphere of
> consumption
> to bring it into line with the requirements of the private accumulation of
> capital. This would presumably involve at least these ten aspects:
> - the commodification of consumption
> - the privatisation of consumption (substitution of private consumption
> for  collective consumption)
> - the social relations of consumption within which consumer items are
> supplied, acquired and consumed
> - consumer and civil resistance, and class conflicts in consumption
> - the transformation or reshaping of (mass-produced) use-values and the
> technologies that produce them, with the aim of maximising their exchange
> value.
> - advertising, innovation and marketing of wares
> - the regulating role of the state in the sphere of consumption
> - class cultures of consumption
> - the ideology of consumption
> - the disposal and recycling of wastes

11.  the transformation of  cultures of consumption, etc. that is part
and parcel of the creation, reproduction, and expansion of the world
capitalist market.

In solidarity, Jerry

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