Tag Archives: Exploitation

Surplus Value (draft)

Another draft chapter for my book. All comments welcome. The most interesting part, I think, is the last section. Surplus Value Marx begins Capital with an analysis of the commodity form. He immediately tells us why: because the commodity is … Continue reading

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Law of Value 9: Abstract Labor, draft (parts A and B)

This is draft of my script for Abstract Labor, the 9th video in my Law of Value series. I always appreciate the comments, suggestions and criticism on these drafts. They really help me focus the scripts. This video has a … Continue reading

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Law of Value 5: Contradiction

We are all painfully aware that modern society is full of social antagonisms. There’s poverty amidst great wealth, over-work alongside massive unemployment, banks taking away homes, gentrification, racial tensions, violence against women, labor struggles, environmental apartheid, police brutality, gang violence, hate groups, massive dislocations of populations, and lots of war. Marx was interested in explaining all of these antagonisms, but he doesn’t start his analysis with any of them. Continue reading

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Law of Value 6: Socially Necessary Labor time- another draft

Alone on his tropical island Robinson Crusoe can take as long as he wants to build a cabin for himself. It’s up to him. We don’t have that luxury when we produce for market exchange. When Wonder Bread makes bread they are competing in the market against Pepperidge Farm, Arnold and White Rose. If their workers are less productive, if they take longer to make bread, that doesn’t mean they can sell their bread for more money. The social value of bread is not set by individuals but by the average amount of time it takes to produce bread. This is called the “Socially Necessary Labor Time”. (SNLT) Continue reading

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Law of Value 6 (or 5): Contradictions – a draft

Marx is always talking about contradictions in the law of value. But these aren’t logical contradictions like “round square” or “military intelligence”. They are contradictions inscribed into the very heart of the social relations of a capitalist society. Some prefer to use the word “antagonisms”. Continue reading

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Law of Value- Introduction

This video series will cover various topics in Marx’s theory of value: The difference between use-value, exchange value and value, the relation of supply, demand and price to value, abstract labor, exploitation, crisis, socially necessary labor time, and even what an understanding of value can tell us about changing the world. It is hoped that they can contribute to a better appreciation of the importance of value theory to radical movements today as they seek ideas with which to articulate their demands and strategies. Continue reading

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Crisis, Value and Marx’s “Order of Operations”

An economic crisis manifests itself in many different forms simultaneously: stock market crashes, housing market crashes, over capacity, unemployment, etc. For every aspect of the crisis there is some theorist who mistakes this surface appearance for the inner mechanism of crisis. But a proper analysis of crisis needs to have some reason for selecting some phenomena as causes and others as effects. There must be a proper ordering of the relations between different economic factors in order for our analysis to avoid being arbitrary and piecemeal. Marx gives us a very clear, though complex, ordering of these relations. Interestingly enough the misunderstanding of Marx’s method, of the proper relation between different aspects of his value theory, is also one of the main reasons that many have dismissed the labor theory of value and Marx’s theory of crisis in the first place. This paper will seek to explain and defend Marx’s “order of operations” in hopes that this can shed valuable light onto what exactly differentiates Marx’s theory of capitalism from others. Continue reading

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Das Kapital vol. 3 Part 2 chapter 8 Different Compositions of Capitals in Different Branches of Production and Resulting Differences in Rates of Profit

“…differences in the average rate of profit in the various branches of industry do not exist in reality, and could not exist without abolishing the entire system of capitalist production. It would seem, therefore, that here the theory of value is incompatible with the actual process, incompatible with the real phenomena of production, and that for this reason any attempt to understand these phenomena should be given up.” Continue reading

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Das Kapital vol. 3 Part 2- opening thoughts

Herein lies theoretical ideas that have been hotly debated for well over a century now. Up until now we have assumed that price equals value and that profit is directly related to the amount of surplus value produced. But now, 140 pages into the 3rd volume of Kapital Marx explains that in conditions of capitalist competition prices don’t equal values and that profit is not determined by the surplus value produced by a firm. This has raised all manner of criticism and even ridicule from some corners. Bohm Bawerk made much of this in his criticism of Marx. Continue reading

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Das Kapital vol. 3 part 1 chapter 7: Supplementary Remarks

….Therefore it is easy to confuse the value-creating powers of labor with the subjective valuations that happen in exchange. We have seen, throughout these opening chapters, how that profit comes wholly from surplus value. Yet the rate of profit is modified by a variety of other factors like changes in the value of constant capital, turnover time, changes in value of labor power, etc. This is one more way in which we confuse these changes for the cause of value. We might notice that increased turnover time increases profit but this doesn’t mean that time itself creates value. We might notice that a decrease in constant capital costs causes profits to rise. But this doesn’t mean that constant capital is creating more value. Continue reading

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