[OPE-L] exploitation and consumption

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Jun 10 2007 - 16:36:41 EDT


Just an additional note. I think that "exploitation" (both a normative and
an analytical concept) should be taken to refer to at least these

1) Criminal appropriation or expropriation (robbery, theft, plunder and
2) Appropriation or expropriation of surplus labour in production, legally
or by force
3) Appropriation or expropriation of the surplus product in distribution,
legally or by force
4) Appropriation or expropriation of wealth through extortional
5) Appropriation or expropriation through structural unequal exchange

That is to say, if you want to "exploit" somebody,

- you can do it by taking something off him that belongs to him
- you can shortchange him in trade
- you can directly or indirectly force him to work for you
- you can use somebody against his will, or without his consent or knowledge
- you can impose an arbitrary differential treatment of people (as in
ascriptive discrimination)

The best source of information on this topic is really not economics, but
jurisprudence and ethics. Economics started off as a "moral science"
concerned with principles of fair trade, but it split into law and a
technical science about the allocation of resources from which moral
considerations are removed (however, because these are not separate
compartments in human beings, there is a continual slippage in economics
between "is" and "ought", between "fact" and "value").

One of the main reasons why I think Marxism has to be rejected is that,
contrary to Marx & Engels themselves, it operates constantly with a too
narrowly defined concept of exploitation. The advantage of socialism is that
you are no longer limited to an endless, boring and abstract refrain about
"exploitation at the point of production", but that you can talk about
exploitation in all its forms, and the conditions for being emancipated from
all of them.

The original 1918 constitution of the Soviet Federation stated "the
fundamental aim of suppressing all exploitation of man by man, of abolishing
forever the division of society into classes, of ruthlessly suppressing all
exploiters, of bringing about the socialist organization of society and the
triumph of socialism in all countries". Later, in 1951, Stalin stated:
"Undoubtedly, with the abolition of capitalism and the exploiting system in
our country, and with the consolidation of the socialist system, the
antagonism of interests between town and country, between industry and
agriculture, was also bound to disappear."
This is obviously ridiculous, but one of the reasons why it is ridiculous,
is because a too narrow concept of exploitation is assumed.


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