[OPE] Understanding value (reply to Michael Heinrich)

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Mon May 04 2009 - 08:53:27 EDT


Of course Marx is considering the commodity primarily in the context of the
capitalist mode of production, he says so in the first sentence of Cap.
Vol.1. But Marx himself is also quite clear that "In the ancient Asiatic,
Classical-antique, and other such modes of production, the transformation of
the product into a commodity, and therefore men's existence as producers of
commodities, plays a subordinate role, which however increases in importance
as these communities approach nearer and nearer to the stage of their
dissolution." (Cap. Vol. 1, p. 172). Indeed he claims that "the human mind
has sought in vain for more than 2,000 years to get to the bottom of [the
value-form of commodity trade]" (p. 90). The ideas of the New Marxist
Exploiting Class that commodities and product-values only exist within
capitalism is completely false. It is moreover simply imbecile, to think
that people did not attach value to their products, until those products
become commodities produced by means of commodities. There is also not a
shred of evidence for that idea, and a mass of counterevidence. Marx himself
points out that in the earliest forms of exchange of goods, "Custom fixes
their values at definite magnitudes... At this stage, therefore, the
articles exchanged do not acquire a value-form independent of their own
use-value, or of the individual needs of the exchangers" (p. 182). That is
what his real argument is, and not the fake lefty valueform theory.
Obviously the fact that the values of the products exchanged were customary
does not mean, that they had no values, or that people were unaware of the
labour it took to make them or of the consequences of given terms of trade
for their own work effort.

The New Marxist Exploiting Class wants to smash trade, and establish its own
tributary rule over society via a regime of direct resource control,
taxation, terror and administered prices. I am opposed to their program. I
invite you to do the same.

For its purposes, the NMEC uses a "value form" ideology which seems to be
super-radical and revolutionary, just as Proudhon narcissistically fancied
that his own idea was the quintessence of revolutionary thought. "If trade
is destroyed, value is destroyed." This is total bullshit, except in the
sense that the magnitude of the gross product and the value of assets takes
a nosedive, because the incentive to produce and maintain anything to a
large extent disappears. Products initially do not have value, because trade
objectifies that value, they have value because, by physical necessity, it
takes cooperative human labour to make them. If labour is taken away,
there's nothing left other than a ghost town. What trading does, is to
objectify that value and make it expressible in money quantities. Maybe it's
incomprehensible to a rich academic who can buy anything he fancies in a
shop, but if you have to produce for a living, you know very well what is
the value of work.

Rapidly, however, the New Marxist Exploiting Class begins to find out about
the value of labour (among other things because, after it has destroyed
trade, nothing works anymore, it's a chaos and people start trading and
bartering illegally), and from there the workers are whipped, tortured and
bullied into exerting themselves to build pyramids, palaces, temples, cars,
roads, factories and suchlike to please the New Marxist Exploiting Class.
For its part, the New Marxist Exploiting Class exerts itself up to the point
that it commands sufficient surplus to give them and their offspring a nice
life, justified by the fact that they also improved the life otheir
subordinates some; after that, its modernizing zeal is largely exhausted.
Meanwhile it has raped the spirit of its own people, who therefore become
nihilistic, demoralised and cynical, and no longer have any work ethic,
doing only as much work as they need to survive, or to get what they want.
The whole process of stuffing up human culture can be accomplished in one
human lifetime.

Far back in the mists of time...

"From 2112 BC onward... the Third Dynasty of Ur established a new
"neo-Sumerian" territorial state or empire, mostly referred to as "Ur III".
(...) In 2074.... king Sulgi undertook a military reform, which was
immediately followed by an administrative reform. From this point onward,
and until the collapse of the empire, hundreds of thousands of accounting
tablets inform us about the details of the administration (and indirectly,
about its governing principles. At least in the Sumerian South, the larger
part if not the overwhelming majority of the working population in both
agriculture and handicrafts production seems to have been submitted to
conditions close to slavery, working under scribal overseers who were
responsible to the work performed corresponding to units of 1/60 of a
working day (i.e. 12 minutes). The accounts of the overseers are extremely
meticulous, converting all outputs into a common unit, taking illness, death
and absence as well as workers lent to or borrowed from other overseers into
account. The old administrative calendar was still in use - Ur III is the
epoch in which sources show that the overseer scribes were to press out of
their crew 30 days' work each month irrespective of its actual length. As
shown by Robert Englund, the yearly deficits of an overseer scribe were
accumulated, and at his death the family was held responsible for it (if
needed by being drawn into the enslaved crews) - at least in private
discussion, Englund would speak of the system as a Kapo economy" (Jens
Hoyrup, "Early Mesopotamia, a statal society shaped by and shaping its
mathematics", pp. 13-14).

There you have the original foundation of so-called "abstract labour". It
took about four thousand years before the human mind finally comprehended
it. The New Marxist Exploiting Class, in the guise of social amelioration,
however wants to turn the clock of history back four thousand years again!
Except they haven't a clue about what actually happened there. The New
Marxist Exploiting Class reifies the theory of commodity fetishism, reifying
Marx's theory, by seeking the source of value in exchange, rather than in
labour. Its value-form theory is a cover for its own exploitive parasitism.
According to this new oppressor class, with their bureaucratic sociology 101
understanding of value, "value" disappears if social relations are changed.
This is meaningless gibberish, but not only that, it is also a very
dangerous idea, because, while the new exploiting oppressors philosophize
about the theory of fetishism, workers must labour under the raw physical
necessity to work, fetish or no fetish, to survive and produce the goods
which allow the new exploiters to philosophize. It turns out, just that the
New Marxist Exploiting Class has one set of "values", and the workers have

Death to the New Marxist Exploiting Class! Long live my holiday!



E-mail message checked by Spyware Doctor (
Database version: 5.10260
ope mailing list
Received on Mon May 4 08:59:21 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun May 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT