The Real Movement

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Tag: technological unemployment

Schrödinger’s Capital: Money, “technological unemployment” and the cold war

NOTE 13: Historical materialism minus the history part

I have been reading, “Marx and Monetary Theory”, by Matthijs Krul. At the outset, Krul makes this statement:

“In the context of the current crisis, with ‘quantitative easing’ to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars on the one hand and the rush to liquidity that accompanies financial crises on the other, it may be useful to take a look at how Marx’s economic theory relate to issues of money and monetary policy. The aim here is to provide a clear and understandable overview of what Marx’s theory of money was, how it relates to our current-day monetary system internationally, and how this relates to his value analysis generally.”

image-A699_4D98869BAccording to Krul in this 2010 essay, the financial crisis makes it useful to compare Marx’s approach to money (and, by implication, value and exchange value) with bourgeois monetary theory. The problem, however, is that in Marx’s theory money is the expression of the values of commodities. By contrast, bourgeois theory lacks a theory of money and treats money as a mere system for counting up incommensurable use values.

Since the commodities themselves are incommensurable, what else the prices might represent is unclear from Krul’s discussion — he never mentions the word, value, until he discusses Marx. It is possible that bourgeois economics believes money is a system for counting itself. As Arthur puts, money is both the form and measure of value.

In any case, bourgeois theory bounces between two poles: in times of relative calm it adheres more closely to the Austrian theory. During times of crisis, it suddenly declares, in the words of Milton Friedman, “We are all Keynesians now.”

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For too long the radical Left has ignored the only real social movement that can directly end capitalism

maxresdefaultFor all of its “anti-capitalist” credentials, the radical Left has long ignored the need for a radical reduction of hours of labor, the only social movement that can directly bring an end to capitalism all by itself. Reducing hours of labor should be an easy issue for the radical Left to organize around since it has four things going for it that aren’t within easy reach for any other social movement.

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The Value of Labor Theory: Money as a class dictatorship

Continued from here

Labor screen_shot_2014-04-13_at_7.29.21_pmtheorists are so used to expressing their ideas in the form of abstract, scholastic, indecipherable bullshit, they have lost all ability to state in clear language, comprehensible to the working class, the gist of the argument they wish to make.

Take, for instance, this passage from Paulani’s paper:

“the categorical evolution of money results in a need for the expulsion of the materiality of money, that is, its ‘natural’ logical movement leads it to a figure that is no longer connected with a real (produced by labour) commodity.”

What does this gibberish even mean?

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The Value of Labor Theory: Money is a political weapon of one class over another

Continued from here

Here is a fact that is absolutely vital to your material standard of living and that of your children:

Money is political.

atlanticapril2012It is a political weapon employed by one class in society to subjugate the other class and force it to labor ceaselessly.

Yet, today, we have a bunch of useless labor theorists running around who approach money as if it is above classes. There are two classes in society and, therefore, two antagonistic and incompatible expressions of the socially necessary labor time of society. This cannot but give rise to two fundamentally incompatible money forms. The struggle in society over which money form will be established as the universal equivalent cannot be divorced from the struggle over what constitutes the socially necessary labor time of the working class.

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The Value of Labor Theory: Money as an unconscious class war raging in society

Continued from here

One of the difficulties I often encounter when discussing money is that the discussion is so couched in incomprehensible philosophical or scholastic bullshit that the absolutely vital stake ordinary working folks have in the debate never dwars 88 Unifac Financien - Basia Dajnowiczsees the light of day. The question at issue in the debate is not just “What is money?” Rather, the question posed is “What would be the socially necessary labor time of society today if the money we used was a commodity money as Marx argued?”

Labor theorists have a number of very interesting answers to the question, “What is money?” But not a single one of them has ever actually investigated the implications for wage slavery if their pet answer were true. You can look at the writings of people like Moseley, Foley, Nelson, Arthur, Campbell, etc. All have very interesting answers to the question, “Must money be a commodity?” However, one thing you will notice in common in all of these papers is that not one of these useless academics ever manages to explain how their particular answer affects the labor time of the working class.

It is time to put an end to this sort of nonsense: money is class warfare and labor theorists are fighting on the wrong side.

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The Value of Labor Theory: “Our friend, Moneybags, should be so lucky …”

In part I of this series, I explained how the events of 1971 — the collapse of Bretton Woods — had its roots in a process Marx first fully described in Capital: the ever increasing separation of the useful qualities of the commodity from its value, i.e., the socially necessary labor time, required for its production. In this separation, for the first time the labor time required to produce the commodity takes a form that is independent of the useful qualities of the commodity.

banqueroThis fact has significance for us because unless Marx established in the opening chapter of Capital that these two characteristics of the commodity take on forms that are independent of one another, he could not show that Keynes’ so-called “technological unemployment” was an inevitable result of capitalist commodity production. In other words, Marx intended to show that absolute overaccumulation — in the form of an excess mass of capital and an excess population of workers — had to develop, leading to the complete breakdown in production on the basis of exchange value that he predicted in the Grundrisse.

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The Value of Labor Theory (and the uselessness of labor theorists)

In 1971, the United States, under pressure from international economic forces, was forced to abandon the gold standard. Yet forty years later, labor theorists have failed to come to grips with that event and refuse to acknowledge what it technologicalunemploymentsignified: the final collapse of production on the basis of exchange value, as was predicted by Karl Marx in 1858. This incapacity to recognize Marx’s prediction in the actual events of 1971, probably more than any other single event in 20th century history, demonstrates the utter and complete failure of the post-war Marxist school.

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Platypus Question No. 6: Is there a concrete demand for the immediate abolition of wage labor?

In question 6, Platypus asks if there is a concrete political demand for the immediate abolition of wage labor:

“If the abolition of wage labor should indeed be a goal of emancipatory politics, what forms of politics or concrete demands should be pursued to attain this goal? How do we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’?”

The question is somewhat confused: Since the state itself is maintaining and enforcing the conditions for capitalist reproduction by extending hours of labor, a political demand for the abolition of labor is not possible. The problem is further complicated by the fact the Left faces is that it conflates opposition to fascist state economic management with opposition to social progress. To resolve these complications, we need to go back to my definition of overwork and unemployment.

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Platypus Question No. 5: Overwork, unemployment and the state

5. What remedies exist to address overwork and unemployment?

For the fifth question, the Platypus group asks what might be considered an adequate remedy to overwork and unemployment.

“5. Historically, the left has sought to remedy the problems of overwork and unemployment, through various means: full employment; a guaranteed minimum income regardless of employment; and/or shorter working hours for those employed. Which of these, if any, do you consider to be adequate responses, and how, if at all, should the Left pursue them?”

The question itself is evidence of a fallacy that is deeply embedded in Left politics, a fallacy Platypus seems to explicitly accept in their introduction to the questions:

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Platypus Question No. 4: The Great Depression, the Left and the Politics of Work

In question 4, the Platypus group asks about the historical influences that inform the politics of work:

“4. In the history of the Left, what examples do you regard as informing your attitude towards the politics of work and unemployment today, and what is relevant about these touch points?”

In think the seminal event in the formation of the Left’s attitude (not my attitude) toward the politics of work and unemployment is its inability, eight decades later, to come to grips with the Great Depression. To a large extent Marxism is precisely at the same point it was in its classical period and in some important aspects it has regressed.

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