termites

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Mon Oct 30 20:58:58 MST 1995


On Mon, 30 Oct 1995, Lisa Rogers wrote:

>[snip] 
> Lisa asks: Don't "natural objects" have use-value according to Marx? 
> All commodities are use-values, but some [naturally occuring] objects
> are use values but not commodities [no labor content = no
> exchangeability].
> 
Pat for MIM replies: All things may have use-value, but that
doesn't mean they are all commodities or capable of imparting value.
We are afterall arguing over the LTV, not use-value. Keen's agenda is
to change the subject to use-value, because he doesn't want
to take the LTV "assumption." If we are not to pass like ships
in the night, I must meet him on some neutral ground and show
why he should walk down LTV Avenue instead of Use-Value Rd.
I wanted to see how he judged the beauty of the two roads at
the beginning of time, before capitalism.
This is especially important to those laboring under
physics-like notions of science. They want to know where the
assumptions get you.

> MIM: But maybe I run back and forth 100 times to give 300 coconuts to
> obtain a certain kind of meat difficult to catch. But are you saying
> coconuts are inputs themselves? Rabbits?
> 
> Lisa: Doesn't every artifact-production/labor process require "raw
> materials" as input?

Pat for MIM replies: I don't know; you didn't post an answer
to my question about massages. (This is a "fork."
Answer it either way and I have you on record for future
reference to contradict yourself.)

You see there is a problem here for Keen. Pre-human Earth
did or did not have use-values? Maybe not because no one
could perceive them. However, since naturally occuring use-values
are part of wealth, do they change by themselves? Through
disasters? This doesn't seem to me to be the subject of 
economics or political economy. Why a disaster-ridden
Earth should have less use-values than a greener than
green Earth is all subjective. But maybe Keen can say something
about that. I'm sure he has actually, but I'm also sure
the origins of wealth issue is favorable to LTV.

Since we are arguing over the LTV, I'm trying to get Keen to
acknowledge that the wealth we are talking
about in economics or political economy increases with labor,
not with the existence of the natural world. Most of what
Marx said about inputs being necessary applies to
capitalism, as far as I know, not early society, hence the
challenge to Keen.

It should be obvious why that is important to "proving" the
presumptions of the LTV. If we can find a situation where one
thing (labor) increases and increases wealth, but another thing seems
fixed, then it seems labor increases wealth.
> 
> Lisa: Steve never said any such thing - "without labor" indeed. 
> Also, Marx was no anthropologist.  Okay, okay, not bad by the
> standards of his time, but "pre-society"??  There is no such thing.

Pat for MIM replies: The critique of the Gotha Program is most 
relevant here. Pre-society or not, it seems the question is
the intellectual capability of apes/early man to conceive of the
question of distribution. Marx raises that parasitism is
something only possible in society, as a critique
of the Gotha Program.

Keen is fixated on a particular
critique Marx made, but Keen fundamentally missed on the
interrelationships of labor-power, labor and exploitation.
Keen's critique of what I said and my response to Keen are
both found in the Critique of the Gotha Program.

You also have not addressed the difference between a market
for labor-power and a market for labor and whether
such a distinction exists in non-labor-power commodities.
And if you think there does exist one for non-labor-power
commodities, why would not capitalists do all the "talking"
for the machines and pickles on penalty of extinction?
And when it comes to labor-power, why is it "unequal exchange" to
be talking about a market for labor-power, not labor?
(Even if it were possible, an equal exchange of labor
would again mean extinction of the capitalist class, no?
This is a  completely counterfactual question, in contrast with the 
situation of non-labor-power commodities where it is possible
to have commodity-power and commodity-ness collapsed and
still have the existing capitalist social relations.)
> 
> Mim: On the question of apologetics for capitalists by attributing
> surplus generating powers to non-labor inputs, I admit it's not the
> focus of argument, just an indication of its importance, like Keen
> said, pure polemic or advertising.
> 
> Lisa:  Pointless polemic from MIM, it seems.  If MIM wants to discuss
> things here, and wants to be taken seriously by me, MIM would do well
> to refrain from such capitalist-baiting.  You look a lot better when
> you engage the content of a post, rather than making obnoxious
> speculations about somebody's charactor or alleged agenda.  MIM and
> Miller do not know Steve, I haven't seen him post anything capitalist
> and such baiting only makes _them_ look bad, IMO.
> 

Pat for MIM replies: Actually I got the idea to ask from one of Keen's
articles. He seemed to imply he had more to say. Some things
can be used as weapons by the proletariat. Some can't. The bourgeois
weapon is to say that workers will by definition overconsume
because they are not wealthy. The LTV gets around that problem
by saying capital doesn't contribute anyway, so it's up to the workers.
Keen's theory does not get around this problem. In choosing an agenda or 
paradigm, that might be a consideration--what problems it solves and what
problems it doesn't. It's a sales question, but I wanted to 
focus on the engineering of the product I'm selling, the LTV.

As for impressing you Lisa, I would have to say you seem to have
a distorted sense of priorities in quelling personal attacks.
Precisely because I don't  know Steve and am anonymous,
you should not be so worried. It strikes me you haven't
noticed that several messages and kilobytes each week are ONLY
joke insults unconnected to anything. I don't see your intervention 
as a moderator or person there, so to me
the Marxism List is still a study in crowd behavior.
A certain number of people insult MIM with nothing to
back themselves up and Lisa seems under pressure sheerly
by the quantity of the dogs baying at the moon.
(Proyect seems to have noticed it was a contradiction
to call me a windbag, when he was the most frequent
megabyte dumper. There's some small progress.)

> If Steve has a good point to make, and I think he does, then he is
> like an exterminator with bad news, telling you that your house has
> termites.  'Ohmigod, I planned to live in that house forever, leaving

Pat for MIM replies: If it has termites it may still protect
against wind. We know Keen's house relies on the bourgeoisie not
to blow a certain kind of wind. The LTV house stops it cold.
All houses have problems. Hey, I always said I was just a 
salesperson, especially when people like you are claiming
my posts are too long as is. It leaves the job of agitating
people's interest quickly and pointedly, so not everything I say
can be just nuts and bolts engineering. However, if you wanted
a non-sales Marxism List, I'd take you seriously after
you cracked down on a lot of shit. Personally I don't think
it's a good idea, because we are in a stage where we
can easily underestimate how much struggle and education
has to occur. People like us tended to think fascism
could never get anywhere in Europe because it was so
ad hominem, so emotional and so unconnected to solving
real problems in a forward-looking way, but it did 
sweep from the Atlantic to the Urals.




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