Tag Archives: karl marx

Are Corporations People? Is Romney?

Watching Democracy Now on Friday Jan 6th I saw another sad exchange on the topic of “corporate personhood”, the strange legalistic side-track that seems to have galvanized so much of the passions of Occupiers. Two days earlier Mark Provost of … Continue reading

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Law of Value 8: Subject/Object

Law of Value 8: Subject/Object part 1: part 2: part 3: part 4: One of the more common objections raised to Marx’s theory of value, at least here in the theoretical void of cyberspace, is the objection posed by subjective … Continue reading

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Law of Value 7: Production and Exchange

This is part 7 of a series on the law of value. Part 1: Part 2: Part 3: Production- Exchange script We get into trouble anytime we try to understand something in isolation. The true meaning of things exist not … Continue reading

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Kapital vol 3; Chapter 14. Counteracting Influences

Capital Vol. III Part III: The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall Chapter 14. Counteracting Influences (This post is part of an ongoing project: a close reading of volume 3 of Kapital, one post per … Continue reading

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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 (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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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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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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