The Metaphysics of Value (was The Geography of Class Struggle)

glevy at glevy at
Sun Jul 30 18:13:24 MDT 1995

Responding to Bernie Golstein, let me make the following points:

1) Does finance capital produce nothing?

Yes, something is produced and it is called surplus value.  Private banks
are after all capitalist firms which employ wage earners to produce a
commodity.  They are, like other firms, motivated by a desire to maximize
their rates of profit.  Surplus value, however, produced by wage labor
can not be realized, and consequently no profit, unless those commodities
can be sold on the marketplace.  Those not engaged in production are
engaged in management, distribution and advertisement.  Without these
services, banks would not, in fact, be able to earn a profit.

2) value of professional and retail trade services

Bernie writes: "pardon me while I try to propose a value to the banker!!!."
You are pardoned -- but your formulation is confusing.  When you say that
these employees have a value to financial service employers, I assume that
you mean that they have a *use* ("worth") to those employers.  Yes, they have a
use -- but they do not have a value-creating ability (at least in Marx's
sense of the term).

3) Bernie asks: "Will we still have money after the revolution?"

Most probably, yes (at least for some period of time).  This does not
mean, however, that our new society will be in need of the financial
services that you refer to.

4) After the revolution, "will total sales still be used to represent
total value produced?."

So long as there are private markets, we will never know with certainty,
ex ante, whether total sales will equal total value ex post.  Banks and
investors don't know either.  Until commodities are actually sold on the
market, we don't know what the level of sales will be.

5) Investment decisions in post-capitalist society:

Will investment decisions after the revolution concerning levels of
investment in transport building, roads, parking, teaching, day care
facilities, steel production etc. be made by the financial service
sector?  I sure to hell hope the are not (if they are, then I'll want to
see another revolution).  These investment decisions should be *social
decisions* which should be made by the workers themselves.  Oh, we can
have "experts" -- but *we* must make the decisions.  Will accountants be
needed to help us gather information and access the relative merits of
different options?  Of course, they will be required.  However, the more
people that have access to information and are familiar with basic
accounting methods, the better.


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