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Ask a Red III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cheezy the Wiz, Feb 6, 2012.

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  1. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    This is a very interesting issue, in my opinion. The USSR, for example, exploited workers in order to industrialize quickly. So did many other states with a "state capitalist" organization. Technically the capital improvements that the workers created was collectively owned by them. And later on they (or their descendants) did benefit collectively from state-provided services enabled by that capital build-up. But I have no doubt that from the point of view of many workers involved in the process the promise of some distant better tomorrow wasn't' enough to make the present effort demanded a justified one. In any case the "communism that existed" could and did compete with capitalism in doing that, at least for some decades. It was in the 70s, when the political systems gradually abandoned the ruthless enforcement of their directives and also started providing move social services, when it stated to deliver on some of those promises, that the economy slowed down there. And the idea I get is that the the vast majority of the people who lived there were happier with that change. So, yes, I guess you may have a point...

    If you want to accumulate and reinvest large amounts of capital then workers must consume less. Thant simply could not be avoided. And so it was that the process of industrialization everywhere has seen workers being exploited, used against or beyond their desires had they been free to choose, on many an occasion. But perhaps we have already reached the point where productivity is high enough that the accumulation of capital through forced reduction of consumption of physical goods is no longer necessary. Capitalism, however, doesn't make it easy to verify if that is true. But high unemployment and the big shifts of labor towards essentially entertainment services will be a giveaway.
     
  2. ori

    ori Repair Guy Super Moderator

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  3. dutchfire

    dutchfire Deity

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    Could you explain the labor theory of value to me in simple terms? In the Twinkie thread there was some discussion about what types of work add value, and I'd like to know how the commies think about that.
     
  4. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    What do you account for the drop-off in support from blacks? The Communist message has of course had great resonance at certain points in time, Eugene Debs spoke of it, there were the Black Panthers, W.E.B. Dubois, Paul Robeson, and Angela Davis. Currently you still have Stewart Alexander or James Harris running on SPUSA or Socialist Workers tickets, but it hardly reflects in the polls. I'd wager that it's white college kids voting for those parties along with old guard.

    I had a professor who thought that the CPUSA could and should have focused on the black community, and urban areas in running candidates and expressing their message and could have actually even won some elections if they had done that.
     
  5. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Deity

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    That is perhaps the most fundamental gist of what I mean, yes. But it is also more than that. It is the fundamental dynamic of capitalism which shapes our existence in so many ways. Scholars of the past considered it a serious issue how all the people should be kept busy if high productivity allowed them to only work say 5 hours, 4 hours a day or perhaps merely 3 days a week. Marx more or less laughed at the idea. His idea was that capitalism was like a vampire, which seeked to suck its "victims" dry, looking for the very last drop of blood to satisfy its never satisfied hunger for more. According to him, no matter what in theory might be possible, people would always have to do work all day - because they could and capitalists would coerce them to (and are in turn coerced by the competition, mind you - am not interested in vilification). And to a large part, he was absolutely right. Productivity is on a steady rise since decades. Since the 70s, work time is increasing again. And all concessions won are merely the result of furious labor fights and its cultural heritage.
    It is about how capitalism follows its own kind of perverted logic. That logic can benefit us a lot as innonimatu also illustrated in his most recent post. But it doesn't mean a really reasonable distribution of resources at any moment. Only - if we are lucky - a relative improvement with regards to the future. A company owned by workers would want ot make the moment worthwhile though.
    The problem I see here is
    A) That you theory doesn't account for the human factor. I hope to have shed some useful light on that.
    and
    B) That your theory still assumes the basic machines of capitalism as a given, not willing to concede that perhaps those mechanisms aren't so much a reflection of human nature but of the system itself. And it then seems unfair to judge the performance of communal concepts by limiting yourself to this system.

    @innonimatu
    I don't really have anything to add to your post. I think what you say makes a lot of sense I have no grounds to diverge at any point.
     
  6. LamaGT

    LamaGT Emperor

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    I'm sure this has been asked a thousand times, but do you guys see the restoration of a western communist state possible? Perhaps with a different policy, and if yes, which one?

    I was born in Ukraine and I know about the USSR more than the average American, and I think that the planned economy and the redistribution of wealth is generally a faulty idea, and I'm curious whether you think that as well or have some solution for those problems.
     
  7. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I don't think that it's possible or desirable. The MLs were in the end nothing more than huge company-towns, and I don't think there's anything of value of in that for the working class.
     
  8. Takhisis

    Takhisis Free Hong Kong

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    up yours!
    Since the Soviet Union and its satellite (read: vassal) states didn't help the workers, why should they be restored?
     
  9. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    They helped the workers. Everyone who speaks different is a part of the international conspiracy by the world capital to discredit the Soviet Union:gripe:
     
  10. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    The Soviet Union should be restored because nowadays only 3/4 of Russian political ruling class and top businessmen / market controllers are former KGB agents, and Mr. Vladimir would like it to be 4/4 (and without the "former" part).
     
  11. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    Seriously, people who think that the SU didn't help workers usually don't argue for its restoration.
     
  12. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    What does that have to do with anything?
     
  13. Takhisis

    Takhisis Free Hong Kong

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    up yours!
    :dunno:
     
  14. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    The new Bond movies would have a better plot than "I have a grudge against an old woman so I will elaborately do the dirty work of shooting Parliamentarians in the face."
     
  15. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I, for one, support the willful and systemic execution of Roundhead traitors.
     
  16. dutchfire

    dutchfire Deity

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    Anyone?
     
  17. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Very rightly Marx stated that labour adds value to a product; this idea has since been incorporated into general economic theory.

    Simple example: your coffee is planted by farmers (labour), who sell it to buyers/manufacturers, where again workers ensure the final product reaches you in the form of coffee packs/pads (also labour). What Marx was talking about was the workers' labour in factories. Things have changed a bit since Marx' times, but the essence is the same, and labour value is generally rewarded better nowadays (at least in the indistrialized countries).

    In short: you start with a raw material (coffee beans) and end up with a finished product (coffee packs/pads). What does this - besides the factory and machinery therein (capital) - is labour. Ergo, labour value.

    (You could equate labour value with pay, but that is not entirely correct.)

    I'm sure the various worker uprisings in the USSR's satellite states are evidence of the world capital conspiracy. It's a pity these workers didn't understand how Communism helped advance their class...
     
  18. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Deity

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    Well if the Reds have better things to do - maybe I can attract their attention by feeding you my bullcrap

    Rough and probably insufficient version:

    The work of a person is worth the "labor" invested. Product A requires effort x. Product B requires effort y. A is worth x and B y. This theory is more or less also the basis to argue for the exploitation of workers (I mean for the fact that it happens - not that it should happen). Because if this value theory is true, the capitalist has no choice but to pay the worker less than the value he produced to accumulate capital (or in other words have a surplus). I am not certain how effort is measured, work time seems to lend itself, but to me it seems insufficient without having thought about it hard at all. Also perhaps me using "effort" is totally misplaced and I should stick with "labor".
    This theory is validated in so far as that often in deed products which require more labor tend to have higher prices. Keep in mind that this includes all labor invested from the very beginning. Resources have to be extracted, machines designed and build before they can be used etc.

    However, this theory encountered some grave problems. Like diamonds. According to the labor theory of value, they shouldn't be worth what they are at all. But stuff like that was more or less shrugged off as weird exceptions for the lack of a better concept. Adam Smith was an adherent of the labor theory of value (I pray to God I am not talking BS at this point).

    A better concept - supposedly - came with the so called marginal revolution in economics. Marginal, because it is about the margin of selling one more unit of a product and its marginal value is the value one more product can be sold for. Or something of the sort (I need to desperately brush up my economics before the next exams :mischief:). Don't let me confuse you - it comes down to the market dictating value. Not the effort a product required.
    This marginal approach is pretty much the basis of modern economic academia when it comes to microeconomics. But it took some time before economists managed to think of it (or perhaps rather until they managed to give it a mathematical expression).

    whoa x-post
    Well there you go
     
  19. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    These so-called "worker uprisings" were composed of bourgeois nationalists and criminal, thuggish elements paid by the CIA:gripe:
     
  20. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    JEELEN, you do not have permission to answer in this thread. Please do not answer questions in this thread directed at Reds.

    Always so eager to demonstrate how much you learned from your father and/or teacher, and yet you never learned the maxim: "if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all." I would extend that to useful things to say as well. Please do not answer questions or post your nonconstructive and unsolicited comments in this thread.

    I apologize for having been absent for so long as to apparently invite the mice to come out and play.

    Marx discusses the crux of his interpretation of the labor theory of value in the first three chapters of Capital. But this is not a Marxist idea; its origins can be traced back as far as Aristotle, but it began to take its modern form with the Physiocrats, particularly Quesnay and Turgot. The Physiocrats saw the land as the only origin of value. The added value that Smith and Ricardo later saw in the labors upon materials extracted from the land were not perceived by them. To them, artisans and other craftsmen were actually unproductive.

    Smith is really the one who formulated the labor theory of value in a directly translatable format, all Marx did was to slightly refine it from this. Smith was greatly influenced by the Physiocrats (his "wealth of nations" that he sought to inquire upon was really the "annual production" of the Physiocrats, i.e. the total output of a nation's land in a year), but perceived that value originated not necessarily in the land, but in the labor used to obtain the materials of the land, and refine them into a marketable form. Thus, an object's value was composed of all the costs required to create it, from the value of the equipment lost while being used to create it (what you might call capital deterioration) to the labor-time used to physically transform or alter it to create the product. The obvious consequence of this is, though, that labors which do not increase the material wealth of society are unproductive. Services like soldiery, the priesthood, lawyers, performers, and the government, whose utility lay only in their immediate consumption, fell into this category.

    Or if you prefer it straight from the horse's mouth:
    Marx's contribution to this theory was to identify surplus value as a distinct but aliquot part of labor value. The most important consequence of that discovery being, that if a laborer were not being reimbursed the whole value of his labor, then he was effectively working at least part of the day for free.
     
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