Why reducing the work week is better than basic income

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I am a stubborn opponent of universal basic income. For reasons I won’t bother to go into here, including support for this dumb idea by people everyone knows have no desire to see the working class’s material position improved, I have concluded UBI is just a bad idea. The alternative I have championed is a general reduction of hours of labor; a policy that by its very nature cannot be used to the advantage of the capitalist class.

Let me make the case for reducing hours of labor and why less labor is far superior to even a generous basic income proposal


Continue reading “Why reducing the work week is better than basic income”

If we don’t drive our own wages to zero, capital can do it for us

On twitter @housetrotter made this extremely pertinent observation:

We make jokes about “after the revolution,” but the fact is I don’t know how we get to revolution and it scares the shit out of me.

Here is the problem:

This statement:

  1. Capitalism
  2. ???
  3. Communism

Practically translates into this statement:

  1. Capitalism
  2. Wages go to zero
  3. Communism

And this statement:

  1. Capitalism (Jobs, jobs, jobs!)
  2. 100% unemployment
  3. Communism

It’s real easy to figure out how we get to communism when capitalism does all the dirty work. It’s that middle part, when wages go to zero and unemployment goes to 100%, that bothers people, I guess. People have a really hard time imagining a future where no one has a job or wages.

Fine. If we can’t figure out how to drive our own wages to zero, capital can do it for us.

Continue reading “If we don’t drive our own wages to zero, capital can do it for us”

Automation: Celebrating the final victory of capital over wage labor

I hope you have read this article from the World Economic Forum, “After replacing 90% of employees with robots, this company’s productivity soared”. If not, go read it and then come back to this post. I am going to tell you something you probably cannot figure out on your own — not because you are stupid, but because the way capitalism works conceals it from you:

It’s hard to argue against automation when statistics are clearly illustrating its potential. The latest evidence comes out of a Chinese factory in Dongguan City. The factory recently replaced 90 percent of its human workforce with machines, and it led to a staggering 250 percent increase in productivity and a significant 80 percent drop in defects.

Changying Precision Technology Company’s factory used to need 650 human workers to produce mobile phones. Now, the factory is run by 60 robot arms that work around the clock across 10 production lines. Only 60 people are still employed by the company — three are assigned to check and monitor the production line, and the others are tasked with monitoring computer control systems. Any remaining work not handled by humans is left in the capable hands of machines.

According to Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the factory, the number of people employed could drop to just 20, and given the level of efficiency achieved by automation, it won’t be long before other factories follow in their footsteps.

Bullish for automation. Bullish for profits. Bullish for capital.

Perhaps, but let’s follow the process all the way to its conclusion.

Of course, as the writers note, the huge increase in the productivity of labor, “comes at a price, though: our jobs.” But, no matter the immediate costs in employment of wage workers, the capitalists are going to automate, because, at least initially, it is profitable for them to automate. As Marx put it, the reduction of living labor in production “even seems in certain circumstances to be the nearest source of an increase of profits”.

Which means the capitalists will be sawing off the tree limb they are sitting on, expecting the tree to fall, not the limb. They will automate both because it is profitable in the short run to do so and because they have no more idea that labor is the source of their profits than you do.


The way automation works is easy to understand:

First, the capitalists will automate the factories and realize massive increases in profits by slashing the amount of living labor in production and reducing their costs of production. Profit is the motive of all capitalist production and with profits rising employment will be rising along with it.

Profits, profits, profits mean Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Everyone will be overjoyed and we will join hands and sing, “Happy days are here again!” And so on.

Then, while we are busy celebrating the final victory of capital over wage labor, the second part of the automation process kicks in, when the rate of profit plunges. The rate of profit plunges because the same automation that increases profits reduces the amount of living labor, the source of all profits, that is now being used in production. Profit falls because the employment of living labor in production falls. With less profits there is less demand for labor power. When this happens, businesses go bankrupt, millions get thrown into the streets, entire states collapse.

In the first place, consumption conditioned on wage labor was always a farce because it never applied to the capitalists. Now, however, consumption conditioned on wage labor loses even its historical justification because there will be no wage employment to be had no matter how low wages fall. Consumption conditioned on wage labor basically becomes a death sentence for billions of wage workers who can no longer find jobs as a result of the increased productivity of social labor. The less wage labor there is, the harder it becomes to justify conditioning consumption on the performance of wage labor.


We are so fucked, you can’t possibly imagine how fucked we are.

When automation hits the fan, it’s going to trigger every crazy anti-semite, racist, nativist, neo-nazi conspiracy theory nut-job on the planet. In the ensuing catastrophe, all the Alex Joneses will gather their followers and go off trying to find a scapegoat who turned utopia into dystopia overnight. Meanwhile radical parties everywhere will demand still more wage labor to fix the problems caused by wage labor.

At that point, no one will be thinking about “A new world is possible”, because they will be too busy desperately trying to bring back the old world.

This problem cannot be fixed with food stamps, single-payer, UBI or any other scheme to save the profits of the capitalists. Since the problem consists entirely of the fact that less labor is being employed in the production of commodities, it can only be resolved by abolition of wage labor itself; the progressive reduction hours of labor until unemployment disappears.

Make no mistake: we are going to crash big time while, on the one hand, fascist idiots claim reducing labor creates jobs; and, on the other hand, radical idiots claim the problem can be fixed with UBI. No one is prepared for 50% unemployment. If you think neo-nazi groups are a problem now, wait until entire communities, cities, counties, etc. are unemployed; if you think nativism is a problem, wait until citizens are fighting Mexican migrants to pick tomatoes.

The capitalists are now fucking with forces they don’t even begin to comprehend. In a matter of days in 2008, the failure of a bank in New York, brought down governments in Europe. Do you really think you can address the problem of automation with your reformist schemes?

Joseph Choonara explains how NOT to read Capital

So here is a very interesting lecture by Joseph Choonara: “How to read Capital”

From what I can tell, Choonara is an egghead from the Socialist Workers Party of the UK, for whatever that is worth. The lecture is a standard boilerplate presentation very similar to many you have probably watched or attended in the past. As a lecture, it is neither more interesting or more boring than the typical attempt to summarize Capital in 2000 words or less. In his favor, Choonara, unlike Harvey or some other lecturers, sticks pretty close to the text without adding his personal opinion.

On the other hand, Choonara recommends you should read the repugnant David Harvey — and thus earns my eternal scorn.


Continue reading “Joseph Choonara explains how NOT to read Capital”

The myths and (ugly) realities of proletarian politics

PROPOSITION: The statement, “Political change is possible”, is just another way of blaming the proletariat for making bad choices.

The GOP and the Right blame the poor for making bad economic choices, while the Democraps and the Left blame the poor for making bad political choices. Both parties assume that there is a different possible outcome from present material social relations than increasing poverty. Even if it is admitted by one side or the other this is not true for society in general, both sides hold it is true in the individual case, or for the individual class.

And this message is repeated in various forms: one of the media outlets last week told the story of some speculator who parlayed $600 into $100,000. The moral of the story was obvious: the poor are making the wrong choices. Even if everyone can’t escape poverty, escape is possible through individual ingenuity, hard work and diligence. If you are still in poverty, you must lack one or more of these attributes. However, the narrative is not limited to the Right: the same tale is told by those who promote the Soviet revolution or Swedish social democracy: we can make different political choices with different outcomes.

Thus politically or individually, our circumstances are relatively, at least, independent of the material social relations within which these choices are embedded. Now this has to be true on some level otherwise we can’t explain the Soviet revolution or that lucky speculator, but given the historical evidence is the relative independence of individual and political choices from our material social relations the rule or the exception? If it is the rule, the end of poverty could be had for as little as $600 per person — not a high price to pay.

I would suggest the idea that individual choices are relatively independent of material social relation is one of the grossest fallacies to emerge from the 20th century and from the bourgeois mode of production generally. It emerged because, for probably the first time in human history, our social roles are no longer assigned to us from birth. There is a very high degree of chance and fortune embedded in the mode of production, an accidental quality to our lives. This is huge change from previous modes of production when roles were largely fixed by tradition and this accidental quality of our personal circumstances appears to us as freedom.

Nowhere does this accidental quality of our circumstances — this freedom from fixed and definite social roles — achieve greater expression than among the working class. Having been stripped of everything, the working class, more than any other class, appears utterly free from all fixed and definite social relations. It thus appears free to enter into any role it chooses. The story of the high school dropout who went on to become the founder of Ford is typical of this sort of bourgeois myth-story repeated over and over.

The appearance here, however, is both valid and entirely illusory: It is valid in that we have indeed been stripped of every fixed and definite social relation — cast adrift from society, but, at the same time, we have been cast adrift from the material preconditions for making use of this freedom from fixed and definite roles. We have been freed from the traditional roles inherited from birth, but also from the material conditions on which these traditional roles were founded to create new roles for ourselves. This puts us in the worst of both worlds and neither individual nor political means can overcome this problem. What we lack are the material preconditions required to make use of our freedom from traditional roles and this cannot be fudged.

The critique of both the Left and the Right is that they want us to make choices without having the material means to effect those choices. They think it is sufficient to have individual choice (liberty) or political choice (democracy) and deny the dependence of all choices on the means of life. But if you don’t have access to the means of life, all of your individual and political choices come down to how to get access.

Thus, Left politics can never be more than a crude, vulgar clash between proletarians over access to the means of life. Any attempt to elevate this nasty competitive conflict for survival to the aim of proletarians is as crude and vulgar as the competition itself. In the end, proletarian politics is all about a crude struggle for survival and efforts to erect barriers against the competitive pressures other proletarians.

There is no more future in proletarian politics than there is a future for proletarians themselves. The proletarians are, in the first instance, nothing more than the detritus thrown off from class society, its refuse, its waste product. In the second instance, they are daily being rendered superfluous even as a condition of bourgeois society. Proletarians have no future, no place in society, no function but to serve as pool of cheap labor or cannon fodder for imperialist outrages. This is not their world and the next world is not for them either. As a class they are nothing more than the end of the line for class society, its ultimate destination. We can only pass to the next society as individuals, the class itself must perish, its politics must perish. Politics is nothing more than a means of delaying the inevitable.

We need to stop promoting the idea that proletarian political revolution is possible; as a political force the proletarians have been exhausted for more than 100 years. We have never known the proletarians as a class capable of seizing power and managing society. That is a 19th century portrait of the proletarians that has been invalid since they slaughtered each other for their own bourgeoisie. That proletariat, the proletariat of the first international, is never coming back and we need to deal with that reality. We have to learn to accept it and move on.

If the problem we face is not politics itself, then you are forced to blame the way people are doing politics. Like the Right and the Left, communists are blaming the poor individual or political choices people are making. Basically, they are saying that if people made better individual or political choices, we wouldn’t have an Obama or a Trump.

Do communists really want to be in the position of parroting (in a slightly altered form) the talking points of the Democraps and GOP?

  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because they don’t vote for communists.”
  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because they voted for opportunists like Syriza.”
  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because they got fooled by Obama.”
  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because Clinton sold them out.”
  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because Bush stole the election.”
  • “Proletarians keep getting screwed because they are racist.”

Every defeat of the proletariat is rationalized in such a way that the issue of politics itself is never called into question; every defeat is attributed to one incidental defect of democracy or another.

Here is the thing: A rejection of politics should leave us with nothing: no strategy, no tactics, no demands, no aims. This is only right, since our strategy, tactics, demands and aims have all been focused on politics and winning political power. Since the time of the Manifesto, the standard boilerplate is that the proletariat would seize state power and undertake its own emancipation Rejection of politics is the rejection of this standard boilerplate.

This assertion will raise a lot of eyebrows, even if it flows directly from my argument, but remember: according to the Manifesto, the taking of state power was always assumed to be “economically insufficient and untenable”. The folks who proposed to seize political power never for even one instant believed the seizure of political power was itself sufficient. I am only adding here that it is also not necessary. If, as I have argued, politics is a dead end now, nothing in communist literature suggests we need a political starting point.

Let me give you an idea what that means. In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels write: “The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.” However, what happens if the “settling of matters” is decided in favor of the bourgeoisie? What happens then? Is the revolution finished? I ask this because the period between 1914 and 1945 looks a lot like things were “settled” in favor of the bourgeoisie. By and large, we haven’t heard a peep out of the proletariat since then.

Yes, people may point to 1968, but that is mostly complete bullshit blown up in the imaginations of radicals — 1968 never really challenged the rule of capital.  Similarly, the civil rights movement was suppressed and its leaders murdered or bought off. The labor movement collapsed in short order. Nothing is left of any of the struggles of the sixties. So, you radicals can stop patting yourselves on the back. The reality is that the conflict was settled between 1914 and 1945 and our side got its ass handed to it, bigly. The proletarian political revolution was exterminated in Auschwitz with the Jews, Gypsies and the disabled. Some may still anticipate a rebirth of the proletarian political revolution; I am not one of those people. I think it is finished.

But the communist movement of society is not finished; that movement necessarily ends with communism. The caveat is that this movement is not itself political; although it was expressed in the political conflict between classes. It is a material movement; the development of the productive forces of society, which carries in its wake a social transformation. The productive forces of society are no more than the material precondition for this transformation.

The defeat of the proletarians didn’t halt this movement; in fact the defeat like all of those suffered by the proletarians only accelerated the development of the forces of production. It added new impetus to the expansion of the world market, increased the population of the propertyless, and drew nations into closest possible intercourse. It has concentrated political, military and economic might into the hands of Washington, and stripped nation states of their sovereignty. It has, in other words, made it possible to conceive of a global communism founded on the highest level of development of the productive forces. A local communism based on undeveloped forces of production and limited intercourse and bound by superstition — a communism of poverty — is no longer possible in our time.

But these achievements come at a price: in an era where each nation is utterly dependent on its economic relations with other nations, and competition has developed to a point where workers separated by thousands of miles are now in direct competition with one another, the possibility of a single working class effecting meaningful national political change no longer exists. People who keep fucking around with national politics have no hope for success. Moreover, the domination of national governments by capital is so firmly entrenched there is no possibility the two can be separated. There are no national economies anymore and no basis for a national economy to be recreated.

How can there be a national politics without a national economy? It’s a pipe-dream.

My argument then is that people keep making “the wrong individual and political choices” because all individual and political choices are wrong. People are, of course, free to continue making whatever choices they want, but nothing about our society suggests any of these choices are relevant. Most people on the Left accept that individual choices cannot significantly change outcomes, but they refuse to accept that this might be true for political choices as well.

In fact, the problem is not which party, politician or program you choose, but democracy itself. Our democracy is now as empty of real material content as the American dollar is empty of value.

Declining Values, Rising Prices: Toward a labor theory explanation of inflation

You probably never noticed this, but Marxist economists have been using Milton Friedman’s explanation for inflation, rather than developing their own. This is because, to discard Friedman’s explanation, they will have to develop an explanation premised on labor, not money. Post-war Marxist academics by and large don’t think labor explains anything about capitalism or, at best, is a redundant category to money.

Now borrowing arguments from bourgeois simpletons is not, of itself, a problem — Marx did it himself. But I have two problems with borrowing Friedman’s argument: first, and personally, I hate Friedman and want nothing more than to prove him to be an incompetent simpleton. I regret having shared the same air on this earth with Friedman for many decades. My absolute hatred for Friedman, utter rejection of everything he stood for and complete revulsion at his very existence forces me to reject any argument with which he is credited.

Second, (and, hopefully, a little less irrational), Friedman’s argument has obvious flaws that cannot be ignored by Marxists. Friedman’s argument requires us to believe that by increasing the supply of currency in circulation the state can increase the prices of commodities:

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. … A steady rate of monetary growth at a moderate level can provide a framework under which a country can have little inflation and much growth. It will not produce perfect stability; it will not produce heaven on earth; but it can make an important contribution to a stable economic society.”

Milton Friedman, ‘The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory’ (1970)

The problem with this argument is not just that state policy causes inflation, Friedman’s argument requires us to believe that inflation arises from exchange relation not from production relations. The assertion that inflation is caused by state currency counterfeiting may be true, of course, but it does not sit well with Marx’s labor theory of value, which proposes that exchange relations are the expression of production relations. To accept Friedman, we would have to reject Marx’s theory of prices.

If money is an expression of socially necessary labor time, and socially necessary labor time is expended during production, logic suggests the explanation for price inflation begins not with exchange but with production, not with money but with labor.

But here is the difficulty with deriving price inflation from labor: inflation means rising prices, while the labor theory premises of capitalist production assume the labor embodied in commodities generally falls. If you begin with production and the diminishing expenditure of labor, you have to explain how the falling labor content of commodities can come to be expressed in rising prices for the commodities. You have to explain, in other words, what would cause prices to move inverse to labor content of commodities. Now, that is a heavy lift for labor theory and, frankly, most Marxist academics today are not up to the job; so they prefer instead to rely on Friedman’s monetary explanation instead of taking the time to develop a native labor theory explanation. An argument that is native to labor theory would initially assume that labor values determine the prices of commodities, but only up to a certain point in the development of the productive forces of the capitalist mode of production. After this point, prices would increasingly diverge from their labor values and even rise as the value content of commodities fall.

What would cause prices to suddenly flip and begin moving inversely to the labor values of commodities? The closest explanation we have for this sudden and bizarre change in the behavior of prices is offered by Marx in Capital, v3, c15: absolute over accumulation, of which Marx has this to say:

“There would be absolute over-production of capital as soon as additional capital for purposes of capitalist production = 0. The purpose of capitalist production, however, is self-expansion of capital, i.e., appropriation of surplus-labour, production of surplus-value, of profit. As soon as capital would, therefore, have grown in such a ratio to the labouring population that neither the absolute working-time supplied by this population, nor the relative surplus working-time, could be expanded any further (this last would not be feasible at any rate in the case when the demand for labour were so strong that there were a tendency for wages to rise); at a point, therefore, when the increased capital produced just as much, or even less, surplus-value than it did before its increase, there would be absolute over-production of capital; i.e., the increased capital C + ΔC would produce no more, or even less, profit than capital C before its expansion by ΔC. In both cases there would be a steep and sudden fall in the general rate of profit, but this time due to a change in the composition of capital not caused by the development of the productive forces, but rather by a rise in the money-value of the variable capital (because of increased wages) and the corresponding reduction in the proportion of surplus-labour to necessary labour.”

In other words, Marx is suggesting there is an absolute limit to capitalist accumulation that cannot be exceeded by the mode of production. Once capital encounters this limit, any additional investment would cause the mass of profit to fall, rather than increase.

Now, here is the really huge problem with this argument by Marx: no Marxist academic today thinks this can happen. All Marxist academics I have read, from the ‘hard-line’ orthodox school of academics like Kliman to the neoMarxist school of academics like Simon Clarke agree that Marx was not serious about this idea of an absolute limit on accumulation. Marx, they argue, was only speaking hypothetically to illustrate his point; proposing a scenario, he never really imagined could happen.

My own problem with Kliman, Clarke, et al is that this is the only possible way to explain the paradoxical behavior of values and prices without invoking Friedman’s simple-minded quantity theory of money. If Marx was indeed speaking hypothetically, we are left with Friedman’s monetary argument and this makes me sad. So, if there is any possibility of proving that incompetent simpleton to be a fraud and a charlatan, I prefer to adopt it.

Textural support for the idea Marx was not speaking hypothetically only exists in the very weak form of an odd quip Marx makes when he defines what he means by the term absolute overaccumulation:

“Over-production of capital, not of individual commodities — although over-production of capital always includes over-production of commodities — is therefore simply over-accumulation of capital. To appreciate what this over-accumulation is (its closer analysis follows later), one need only assume it to be absolute. When would over-production of capital be absolute? Overproduction which would affect not just one or another, or a few important spheres of production, but would be absolute in its full scope, hence would extend to all fields of production?

Note, in the above quote from Marx, the parenthetical statement, “its closer analysis follows later”. If Marx was only speaking hypothetically, why would he intend to examine absolute overaccumulation more closely later on in Capital, v3? One possible interpretation of his statement is that Marx wasn’t speaking hypothetically; he fully intended to show there was an absolute limit on capitalist accumulation.

Not surprising, both Grossman and Postone —  the two greatest Marxist thinkers of the postwar period — provide arguments that agree with me — not with Kliman and Clarke.

For Grossman, absolute over accumulation leads to a situation that labor power (a commodity) has to be sold below its value. For Postone, the development of the forces of production lead to the accumulation of superfluous labor time. I believe either of these conclusions can be the starting point of an argument to explain how declining the value content of commodities might  result in rising prices for the commodities.

Grossman’s argument basically states socially necessary labor time no longer determines the price paid for labor power; while Postone’s argument basically states that aggregate labor time doesn’t fall as we previously assumed. Thus each agrees that, at a certain point in the development of the forces of production bound up with capital socially necessary labor time no longer determines either actual labor time or prices.

If prices don’t express the socially necessary labor time required for production of commodities, they must now increasingly express the actual labor time of society. As the actual labor time of society increases relative to socially necessary labor time required for production of commodities, prices must increase relative to the values of the commodities.

Notice that no role in inflation is given to the state’s counterfeiting of the currency. This is because state counterfeiting is determined by the expansion of unnecessary labor time and does not cause it. The state’s monetary and fiscal policies are determined not determining. Since aggregate labor time is increasing, the state must increase the quantity of currency in circulation or a crash will occur.

Towards a hypothesis of the final collapse of capitalism (5)

Sidebar: Understanding the concept of labor time density

I received two comments to my last post that raise questions about my approach. The first comment is from Noa, who thinks my employment of the concept of superfluous labor time ignores capitalism’s drive to constantly reduce socially necessary labor time and eliminate unnecessary expenditures of labor in production:

“Wouldn’t that be a typical apologetic argument in favor of capitalism? Perhaps you’re thinking only of a few particular cases (like in the Simpsons episode where Homer replaces himself at work by a drinking-bird-mobile pushing a button). But on the other hand, perhaps more normal, take a look if you can at some car assembly line today, the worker literally becomes a cog of the machine, sitting in an machine-chair to speed up his every movement. That intensifies their labor. And I think the labor can be intensified not necessarily only by increased productivity due to a shorter working day, but also by cutting staff, increasing the workload of the remainder.”

The second, related, comment is from Коммунист, who wonders why the state’s currency printing, combined with capitalist greed, would not result in hyperinflation:

“I will probably be asking this question also on behalf of all bourgeois economists or at least people who base their everyday logic on these charlatans’ understanding of the economy. If the government start directly buying produce from capitalists with its printer “paper”, why won’t the capitalists just start increasing the prices, seeing that there is now suddenly a demand for their products? These prices can be increased in proportion (even ad infinitum) to the volume of issued “paper”. Isn’t this exactly what the typical bourgeois economist would quip at your ideas?”

My argument that there is a declining density of labor time does not in any sense imply that the worker becomes lazier or that her labor becomes less onerous. I assume a very high intensity of labor and that the capitalist maintains the intensity of labor by eliminating all superfluous or redundant staff while paying the strictest attention to costs of production. Further, I assume state currency printing will force capitalists to offset the declining ‘purchasing power of the currency, by increasing their prices. My argument about the density of labor time thus assumes no unnecessary social labor is employed in the production of commodities — capital continues to function exactly as we have come to understand it from Capital. I do not wish to invoke any other mechanism to explain the declining density of labor time than are already explicitly given in the definition of capital as described by Marx.

Despite this, as I will show, there is without a doubt a declining density of labor time in the aggregate social labor day.

Continue reading “Towards a hypothesis of the final collapse of capitalism (5)”

Towards a hypothesis of the final collapse of capitalism (4)

4. Full employment, or the deferral of communism

In my last post, Towards a hypothesis of the final collapse of capitalism (3), I showed that the duration of the social labor day is no longer confined to the socially necessary labor time required for production of commodities. A distinction must now be made between the actual duration of the working day and that duration of the working day that would be considered socially necessary according to Marx’s definition of value. It was exchange value that constrained the duration of the actual working day to be no longer than was socially necessary for the production of commodities. With the breakdown of production based on exchange value, i.e., the collapse of the gold standard, this connection between the two durations of labor time no longer exists.

Between the actual duration of the social working day and the duration of the working day required for production of commodities, a new category of labor time emerged that Moishe Postone calls superfluous labor time. This superfluous labor time is labor time that cannot be employed productively, it is superfluous to both wage labor and capital. In a socialist society, this labor time could only be set free to make room for free disposable time for everyone. In the capitalist mode of production, however, this labor time cannot be set free because, as superfluous labor time, it is now the essential condition for its opposite, socially necessary labor time.

The emergence of superfluous labor time, time that adds neither to the productive capacity of society nor to its consumption power, is made possible by the replacement of commodity money by debased valueless fascist state tokens. These tokens express the value of commodities, including labor power, as zero. As I explained in a separate blog post, the fascist state can, therefore, “buy” any commodity simply by printing up the requisite quantity of currency, without actually paying for with real exchange value.

The state can, in other words, buy without selling, without first acquiring the means to purchase by offering a commodity in return, and without taxing or borrowing.

Continue reading “Towards a hypothesis of the final collapse of capitalism (4)”

Why Marxist academics are charlatans — all of them, without exception

The argument that needs to be explored is that between 1867 and 1971 an essential category of Marx’s Capital disappeared. In 1867 money was a commodity with value, transactions involving money were exchanges of value, exchanges of socially necessary labor times; by 1971 this was no longer true. Its disappearance was predicted by Marx’s labor theory of value, but has not been recognized by the Marxist school of political economy.

The Marxist school have refused to recognize this change, its cause and its implications. For the life of me, I cannot understand why they are so stubborn on this. Even if you don’t agree with my view on this, it is a testable counterfactual: the dollar in 1867 was pegged to gold, today it is not. Both gold and the dollar continue to exist today. We know gold is money. And we know why it is money. The question is whether currency is money apart from its relation to gold.

To test the counterfactual that currency in circulation today is not money, all you have to do is compare dollar prices since 1867 to gold prices since 1867. If the relation between the two is unchanged since 1867, my counterfactual argument is falsified. Not a single Marxist who has challenged Marx’s theory of money has ever provided any empirical proof for their claim. They will provide charts and graphs to prove any assertion except the one that says fiat currency behaves like gold.

Mind you the implications of debased fiat currency are staggering: if my counterfactual is falsified, Capital Volume 1 can be thrown in the trash. There is no more Marx’s labor theory of value. And no need to ever speak of it again. All it takes to completely discredit Marx is a single empirical demonstration that fiat prices and gold prices behave the same way.


Continue reading “Why Marxist academics are charlatans — all of them, without exception”