Re: [OPE] the market and a classless society

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 01:26:48 EDT

> So you think that you can have a "classless society" even with the
> market and monetary exchange?

Yes. Economic classes are constituted by kinds of income, e.g. wages,
profits and rent. So if you abolish profit-income there cannot be a
capitalist class.

It's an entirely separate argument whether the market and monetary
exchange necessary lead to the restoration of a capitalist class. My
point is that economic classes are intimately bound-up with the
distribution of income, and not the existence of money and markets.

Plus, one can have economic classes even if money and markets are abolished.

> Your formulation is self-contradictory: you say that capitalist
> social relations "are a specific social relation within production
> (not exchange)" which refer to the wage-capital relation. *The
> wage relation to capital requires the purchase and sale of labor
> power - an exchange relation*.

The exchange of money for labor is not in itself a sufficient
explanation for the existence of capitalist exploitation or the
enduring power of the capitalist class.

In Vol 1. of Capital, I understand Marx as saying that the exchange of
labor for a wage is subject to the laws of commodity exchange, and
given the assumption of price-value proportionality, is an *equal
exchange* and therefore *not* the source of exploitation.

The action happens in the "hidden abode of production" where a surplus
is produced (breaking the cost-revenue equalities implied by
price-value proportionality). The new profit now gets distributed.
Although the workers are responsible for the profits they don't own
those profits. Note that this social relationship between capitalist
owners and workers is not a market relation: it's a contractual

For example, a co-op may purchase labor-power and the workers may sell
their labor to the co-op, but since the workers own the firm and its
profits, there is no exploitation and no capitalist owners.

I think it's very important to understand that capitalism is not
constituted by money and markets, but by the wage-capital relation.

> The point here is that capitalist
> social relations of production can not be understood independently
> of exchange because there is a unity of the processes of capitalist
> production and capitalist circulation.

I hope you understand me better now.

> Those who argue most vocally
> against value-form theory seem to repeatedly miss this basic point:
> it is precisely the specific relation between the process of
> production and circulation insofar as the class relation is concerned
> that distinguishes capitalism from non-capitalist modes of production.

I find this formulation of the specificity of capitalism really very vague.
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Received on Wed May 6 01:28:44 2009

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