Tag Archives: capitalism

Law of Value 6: Socially Necessary Labor Time

We’ve probably all heard Marx’s famous description of the higher phase of communism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Marx didn’t actually come up with this phrase but he quotes it in one his rare commentaries on communism. Here an hour of one person’s work is equal to an hour of anyone else’s, creating a basis for real equality throughout society, regardless of the productive abilities (or privileges) of individuals. In the Critique of the Gotha Program Marx describes the lower phase of communism as a system in which, after an hour of labor, all workers receive a certificate entitling them to a certain amount of consumption goods in proportion to their working time, not their level of productivity. There is no SNLT, and no inequality, because everyone’s work has the same social power. Obviously this is not a robust plan for how a communist society should be run. But it gives us a glimpse into the sort of radical questions we should be asking ourselves when thinking about communism. 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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The Law of Value 2: The Fetishism of Commodities

part 2 in the Law of Value series. There are a lot of people that are really powerful in the world: Presidents, CEO’s, bankers, leaders of movements… But there is an object, a thing, that is more powerful than any … 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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Left Forum 2010

Below are video from 3 different panel from the March 2010 Left Forum in New York City. There is a lot of stuff here so let me describe and recommend a few highlights for viewers with less time on their hands.

Probably the most frequent question I get from viewers/readers is: “Okay, you have critiqued capitalism. Now what is the solution?” I usually respond by saying that we need to understand the problem better before we can begin to articulate solutions. Here, I am pleased to post some thoughts on what it means to overthrow capital and some of the ways it can be thought about: Check out Anne Jaclard and Andrew Kliman’s talks on the “Future of World Capitalism” series and the discussion that followed. These will be of interest to many viewers who want to know what it means to overthrow the law of value. Continue reading

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Das Kapital vol.3 Chapter 9: Formation of a General Rate of Profit (Average Rate of Profit) and Transformation of the Values of Commodities into Prices of Production

In all of the consternation, debate and quarreling over Marx’s value theory this chapter, chapter 9 of volume 3, lies in the center of much of that (though perhaps chapter 10 even more so). Continue reading

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Rethinking Marxism: Temporal Value Theory in a Moment of Crisis; Roundtable on the Economic Crisis

This is video from a roundtable on the economic crisis held during this year’s Rethinking Marxism conference in Amherst Mass. Each panelist’s presentation stands on its own so they need not be viewed in any specific order. A brief bio proceeds each video as well as my own short summary of their argument. This is merely to help viewers decide what to watch and to give some brief context for the uninitated. 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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