[OPE-L:856] Re: Valuation Of Inputs

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Fri, 26 Jan 1996 04:01:21 -0800

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Replying to Alan Freeman [853]:


> Fetishism being important in Marx's thinking, we should be
> careful not to assign a causal role to aspects of consciousness
> which are a mere reflection of material reality.

The consciousness of human agents is indeed a reflection of material
reality. However, as stated, it is one-sided since the consciousness of
humans, when mobilized into action, can change material reality. When
discussing the more concrete manifestations of the competitive process, I
believe we have to consider how the "anticipations" and "expectations" of
capitalists modifies their behavior.

Logically, it would seem to me, that one must *first* discuss how moral
depreciation can be explained at a level of analysis where capitalists
are mere carriers of capital relations (character masks). However, one
must *then* go on, at a later stage of analysis, to inquire about how
capitalist behavior is modified by altering forms of competition and
where capitalist expectations are explicitly taken into consideration
(and other topics as well).


When discussing a *very concrete* topic (upgrading of computers from 486
to 586), Alan writes:

> Capitalists are *forced* to upgrade their equipment, or suffer
> complete ruin, by the phenomenal rises in productivity, in use-
> value terms, of the labour-power of the workers using new
> technology: not the cheapening of the existing technology as
> such.

(1) assuming competitive conditions (which is appropriate for an initial
analysis of moral depreciation, but is not entirely appropriate for
analyzing the concrete question that he has selected).

(2) assuming that there *is* a "phenomenal", rather than a marginal,
increase in productivity.

> People don't buy Pentiums because they are cheaper (they
> aren't - there is an industry dictum that the computer you want
> always costs $2000) but because they can do more with them.
> Otherwise they would just buy cheaper 486s.

You are wrong. At the concrete level that you have selected, the above
isn't necessarily the case. In practice, both consumers and firms
frequently buy computers that are much more sophisticated than their
needs require. Advertising, which isn't considered under more
competitive conditions, has an important role in shaping demand.

> Unless they are among those terminally sad people who just like
> to have the latest of everything.

There are these people too. This consciousness, however, is not
accidental. It is created by social forces, including firms. _If you
select a concrete topic for analysis, then you must consider all of the
variables that determine that subject or, at least, specify all of the
assumptions that you are making_.

In OPE-L Solidarity,