Abstract Labor and the Puzzle of Unproductive Labor

Value-form theorists love to repeat a statement of Marx that seems to have been first marked by Rubin in the 1920s.

“Political economy has indeed analysed, however incompletely, value and its magnitude, and has discovered what lies beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour time by the magnitude of that value.”

Says Rubin,

“The concept of labour must be defined in such a way that it comprises all the characteristics of the social organisation of labour, characteristics which give rise to the form of value, which is appropriate to the products of labour.”

As the name implies, the value-form school places great emphasis not simply on the value of commodities and the magnitude of value, but also on the appearance value takes in a commodity producing society. Rubin argues “that value arises not only from the substance of value (i.e. labour) but also from the ‘form of value’”

This argument resonates with a very large body of labor theorists today because of one simple fact: What we today call money is a valueless token issued by the fascist state and controlled by it through its laws and central banks.

This fact suggests Marx fundamentally misunderstood a critical category of the capitalist mode of production. Since the movement of capital begins and ends with money, you cannot misunderstand money without misunderstanding both the beginning and end of the movement of capital itself.

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The single non-reformist reform that can end capitalism within months, not decades

the-labor-force-participation-rate-tanked--heres-the-not-so-scary-reason-whyThe problem of unemployment has been addressed from two different angles by activists: the guaranteed job for everyone who wants one and the basic income guarantee to provide every worker an income above the poverty level whether he or she can find a job or not. Both schemes have their advocates and some activists even advocate both ideas together.

The problem with both idea separately or in tandem is simple: No one can explain how either reform gets us where we want to go: not simply the end to unemployment, but the complete abolition of wage slavery — to end unemployment forever as the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the working class.

Continue reading “The single non-reformist reform that can end capitalism within months, not decades”