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Ask A Red V: The Five-Year Plan

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cheezy the Wiz, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    It is with great pleasure that I introduce the FIFTH serial "so you would like to know more about communism and socialism" thread!

    Remember that this is a question and answer thread and not for arguments. Critical response is welcome, tirade and polemic are not.

    If you wish to engage in discussions about these topics as many surely do, I highly encourage you to check out our companion thread, The Offtopicgrad Soviet, where the rules are far more relaxed and a passionate give and take is encouraged. Civilly, of course.


    That said, we are ready to field your questions!

    Ask A Red

    Ask A Red, Second Edition

    Ask A Red III

    Ask A Red: The IV International


    List of posters approve to answer questions:

    Cheezy the Wiz
    Traitorfish
    innonimatu
    FredLC
    RichardCribb
    ReindeerThistle
    Aelf
    Azale
     
  2. ReindeerThistle

    ReindeerThistle Zimmerwald Left

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    Haha! Back to the Communist Offensive period, are we?

    Excellent!

    Building socialism for the 21st Century requires 21st Century tactics...

    I may actually have some time this weekend to answer questions.
     
  3. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Does anyone know a good book about the botched German revolution in 1923? I have Russian sources that talk about their perspective/involvement in it, but nothing about the Germans themselves.
     
  4. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I'm curious about the thoughts Reds here have about the social division of labor. How are we to escape it? It seems like the common Red response to this problem is nationalization and state planning, but that's no more a guarantee of its eradication than worker ownership by itself is. I suppose it could be as simple as a law against surplus value, and then a regulatory agency to enforce it, but that could become very cumbersome.

    Is there a Red answer to this?
     
  5. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    "Law against surplus value"
    So a law making profits illegal, am I getting this right?
     
  6. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Pretty much.

    When a commodity is purchased in the marketplace, an unequal exchange takes place. The object, which has a certain value imbued in it as a consequence of the labor which turned it from a raw material into its finished product, is exchanged for an amount of money. Now the producer has the money, and the buyer the product. But if the producer profits from the exchange, then he has obtained more wealth than he gave to the buyer in the form of his commodity. This formula is expressed as M-C-M' and creates inequality. In order to create an equal society, we must exchange commodities not for profit, which injures another for our benefit, but rather for the use-value itself: its utility to another. In this way there is no winner or loser, merely a net material enrichment of society.
     
  7. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    But aren't there other motivators to obtain surplus value other than a profit? You can also immediately spend the surplus you received via wages or on-going investments. I believe it was Cutlass who complained that this was something happening in the American health care industry, where an official prohibition of profit doesn't seem to hinder the will of institutional participators to take in as much money as they can. They just find different ways to make use of the money. I suppose one could implement further legislation which would ensure that such money benefits the workers. Still, surplus value would continue to matter I imagine. Or not?
     
  8. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    It doesn't matter what the motivation is, the point is that it enriches the producer at the cost of the consumer.

    Wages are a constitutive part of value. Wages will equal the value of the labor the worker imparted into his/her products. That is, as long as wages As A Thing survive.

    Investments are still entirely possible. But investments, and indeed all transactions involving profit-made money, are speculative. They create bubbles, because they are not based upon real value.

    "Take in as much money as you can" is speculation, which necessarily involves creating surplus value, which is profit-making.
     
  9. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    Oh disregard. I think I am just a bit fuzzy and confused in my head right now what surplus value really constitutes and will mostly project my confusion by keeping to talk. Perhaps my head will retain some order and I'll ask further questions. Right now it is ringing with sickness
     
  10. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    In what way would they do this?

    By themselves they won't. My post wasn't a comprehensive "everything about socialism is contained in this single doctrine" statement. Abolition of private property will help this, though.

    A worker is exploited because his labor is extorted from his pay to be collected by the capitalist as part of profit. He is not reimbursed for the total labor he performs, he is only paid for part of it. If profit is eliminated, and the capitalist ceases to exist (meaning that the private property foundations for his existence as a class are removed), then the only remaining value after the transaction is what was originally created by the labor, and the laborers can be rewarded in kind, since there is no where else for their extorted labor value to go. No capitalist pockets to line.

    Or in other words: couldn't a business create surplus value by creating surplus value, instead of creating surplus value?

    You described exactly how it works, not an alternative.

    Businesses will not be sovereign.

    Because it's "value" that rests on no material foundation. That price is made on the gamble that someone will be daft enough to actually pay it.

    Investment will not entail the private ownership of capital. The only possible exceptions are one-man operations or family unit businesses, like family farms, provided they don't have to hire anyone.

    Groups can come together and invest mutually if they desire something, as can the community organs invest. But again, we are far enough down the road to communism at this point to consider that money will very soon be obsolete, and so raising funds will not be an issue: members of society will, through society, decide they wants something, and will act to create it. If it finds no use, then those efforts will be redirected toward useful, desired things.
     
  11. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    I see you already answered. Well keep it there! I was about to ask better questions anyway and that may help :)
     
  12. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    Okay thank you for your responses, that was helpful. :)
    The whole theory of surplus value (at least as it was conceived my Marx himself) rests on the assumption that monetary value reflects labor time invested.
    So for a worker to not be exploited, he needs to be able to buy as much labor time from others with his wage as he sold to a given business. Correct?
    For this to work, wouldn't you need to set in stone that a price also actually does reflect invested labor time?
    As otherwise, different businesses will still be more successful, right? And will this not mean that some labor time will be rewarded better than other labor time? In effect stealing from those less successful and giving to those with more, aka surplus value (just in a different context)? So outlawing profits itself will not put an end to surplus value, but just will mean that workers will have to earn their surplus value by being more successful on the market. Agreed?
     
  13. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    The Russian Revolution, 1917 by Rex Wade is one of the standard undergrad texts, and I'd recommend it. Covers the February Revolution to the dissolution of the constituent assembly. Particularly worthwhile in that it spends a lot of time discussing the attitudes and aspirations of the various social and national groups involved, which more narrowly political histories can miss. Not a great deal of pictures, but the ones that are there are of very good quality and are built into the text very well.

    I'll also second Cheezy and RT on Reid's Ten Days, which although not totally reliable factually (it's essentially long-form journalism, which has obvious limitations), does an unrivalled job of catching the mood of the October uprising. (Additionally, the ground-level perspective from which most of it's written means it avoids privileging the big names at the expense of the workers who actually made the revolution.)
     
  14. _random_

    _random_ Jewel Runner

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    So when reading some Wikipedia, I came across the following bit:
    Admittedly knowing jack-all about the history of race relations in Cuba, I'll ask the following questions:

    Do you think banning Afro-Cuban organizations is or was a good idea?

    Do you think that banning racial minority organizations in the US or elsewhere would be a good idea in general, or as part of a broader communist movement?
     
  15. Ghpstage

    Ghpstage Chieftain

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    Hi,
    I'm just starting to read into parts of Communism with some essays and speeches by various authors like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky (though these are combined in a book about revolutionary writings so may not be the best!) and have a copy of das Kapital ready for the future, and i'm wondering what the Reds here would consider required reading for a decent understanding of socialism and communism, and if there is anything else beyond that which they would particularly recommend.
     
  16. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Would this book happen to be To the Finland Station?
     
  17. Ghpstage

    Ghpstage Chieftain

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    Its "The Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings", the title being more for catching eyes than a real description as while a fair amount is by people who are relevant to Communism there isn't a central theme of Communism with 'others' including things like the American declaration of independance!
     
  18. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Ah. Sounds cool! Check out Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station when you're done. It's a history of 19th century revolutionary thought, with a big central portion on Marx, Engels, and their body of work.
     
  19. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Thanks, though I'm looking more for books on how the revolution affected the individual people in society rather than a 'macro-history'.

    I read that a couple years ago, and the included essays by Kropotkin and Bakunin were excellent.
     
  20. kristopherb

    kristopherb Protective/Charismatic

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    I'm looking to improve on my very limited theoretical marx/socialist concepts. Now i have the time to fully read up on them, is there any books/essays/other literature that you suggest?

    "The Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings" seems like a good start (i have read the communst manifesto mind you). I'm reading in defence of october and other (old) militant pamphlets.
     

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