The Real Movement

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Month: December, 2020

On the eve of open warfare between Trump… and the GOP

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming

The Donald cut his holiday in Florida short to return to Washington as his forces prepare to challenge Biden’s coronation in the House and the Senate. Still hanging in the balance are two senatorial seats in Georgia that only he can clinch. An opening skirmish is planned over a military appropriation that no one ever thought was in danger.

The center likely will not hold…

Can someone tell Francesco Boldizzoni that if he is going to diss Marx, he should at least get his theory right…

This is the crap that passes for a serious restatement of Marx’s labor theory of value:

Marx believed that the value of commodities depends on the quantity of labor they embody. Yet any attempt to deduce market prices from “values”—the so-called transformation problem—has failed, beginning with Marx’s own attempts. Orthodox economics could thus easily maintain the alternative thesis that prices are determined by the relation between the utility and scarcity of goods. It is clear that if labor is not (the only element) involved in the process of valorization, the possibility of profits being affected by exploitation, on the one hand, and by the substitution of machinery for labor, on the other, becomes much less plausible. But critics who overfocus on these aspects miss the point. The conclusion that prices can (entirely or in part) be explained in terms of utility and scarcity does not disprove the claim that exploitation and the appropriation of surplus value underlie the wage-labor relation. Indeed, a modern Marxist can argue that “workers … do not create value, but they create what has value… What raises a charge of exploitation is not that the capitalist gets some of the value the worker produces, but that he gets some of the value of what the worker produces.”

Foretelling the End of Capitalism: Intellectual Misadventures since Karl Marx, Francesco Boldizzoni, Chapter 1

Frankie, baby. Give a dead guy a break. Marx obviously believed that the value of a simple commodity depended on the quantity of socially necessary labor time (not just ‘the quantity of labor’) it contained. However, Marx also showed that this was not true for any capitalistically produced commodity.

The difference between the two types of commodities is so pronounced that Marx’s transformation function predicts a commodity, like, for instance, a taxicab ride in a self-drive cab will have the same market price as a taxicab ride in a cab that is manned by a cab driver, although the latter employs human labor and the former doesn’t.

The surplus value created by the manned cab capital must be shared with the self-driven cab capital. Another way to say this is the self-driven cab capital realizes excess (or additional) profits by eliminating human labor in its operation.

And stop fucking reading Sweezy and Baran; those idiots knew nothing.

(Note: It would appear that the price of a cab ride in the self-driven Waymo or Tesla taxi, once the cost of the constant capital involved is subtracted, should be zero, if, as Frankie assumes, the price of a commodity was equal to the socially necessary labor time incorporated in its production. But this would ignore the law of the average rate of profit, which distributes what surplus value there is among capitals in proportion to their magnitude. Thus even a capital employing no labor power at all enjoys an average rate of profit calculated on the total mass of capital of society and distributed among capitals in proportion to their aliquot share of this total mass. Which is to say, capital is still fucked, despite Frankie’s own intellectual misadventure here.)

A Lame Duck Cripples Congress…

I guess Trump stopped packing his bags long enough to leave a huge turd in Washington’s Christmas punchbowl.

And then off to Georgia to take political advantage of some ugly domestic dispute…

So Completely Fucked…

Trump’s parting gift is that SCOTUS is pretty well fucked in this crisis. No way out for the jerks in black. Between the partisan squabbling over the election and the challenge to “choice” they are likely to piss off about 99.9% of the country, no matter what they decide.

I really am going to need a bigger bag of popcorn.

Trump in Valdosta…

The alleged ‘loser’ of the November election went to Georgia and thousands of his supporters turned out to greet him. Some United States senators running for office in Georgia came along for the ride, but the crowd basically ignored them and shouted them down with screams of “Fight for Trump.”

States of the Union are now at each others’ throats.

Marx never thought capital was compatible with commodity production

So, I have been reading Capital, volume 1 again for a project and I came across the opening statement in chapter five, “Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital”, that I probably read a dozen times but never actually studied.

This time for some reason it caught my eye and surprised me:

“The form which circulation takes when money becomes capital, is opposed to all the laws we have hitherto investigated bearing on the nature of commodities, value and money, and even of circulation itself.” Capital, v1, c5

All frigging day, I have been trying to wrap my head around it. Does that statement say what I think it says?

Let me be specific and unambiguous here: Is Marx, in his own understated fashion, asserting that the circulation of capital is opposed to, conflicts with, contradicts, or is incompatible with the law of value?

Am I reading that correctly? If not, what is he saying?

(I find it interesting that David Harvey, in his abbreviated discussion of this chapter (see 30 minutes in), completely ignores the chapter’s opening statement.)

(The folks at Zero Books discussed the chapter, but didn’t notice the statement either. Then again, it doesn’t appear they notice much of anything.)

(Surprisingly, this guy, Rhizome, seems to get the point Marx is making in the opening statement of the chapter. I don’t know who he is, but he is likely an offspring of Land, or, at least, the accelerationist prophets, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. )

Let me add one other interesting statement — this time by Engels — in his supplement to volume 3:

“…the Marxian law of value holds generally, as far as economic laws are valid at all, for the whole period of simple commodity production — that is, up to the time when the latter suffers a modification through the appearance of the capitalist form of production.” Capital, v3, Supplement

In other words, according to Engels, once the capitalist form of commodity production appears, prices of commodities more or less begin to diverge from their values until, we can assume, production based on exchange value breaks down completely.

In short, there is no contradiction between volume one and volume three of capital, because at the opening of chapter five of volume one Marx already states that the form taken by the circulation of capital is incompatible with the law of value. He is, in effect, telling us that capital undermines its own premises.