156monadicIt's incredible how far Marx will go in magical thinking to defend and deny inflation.
First, he points out that there is an African tribe which uses an imaginary currency called a "bar" when they exchange commodities. The one man will say that a cow is worth 3 bar, and wheat worth 1/8 bar per bushel. In this way they know that they can trade 1 cow for 8 bushels of wheat. He uses this example to say that price is something purely ideal, and merely an expression of the relative values of commodities. Now, when we use another commodity as the medium of exchange, e.g gold, it also depends on the value of gold, which we know for Marx means the labor time to produce gold. But price is the thing which is primary and the medium of exchange the arbitrary and accidental thing. So for him only two things can happen- either the value of gold changes, e.g through improvements in mining technology, or prices change of their own accord and money supply increasing is an effect of this rather than the opposite.
It is these contradictory functions of money, as measure, as realization of prices and as mere medium of exchange, which explain the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon that the debasement of metallic money, of gold, silver, through admixture of inferior metals, causes a depreciation of money and a rise in price; because in this case the measure of prices is no longer the cost of production of the ounce of gold, say, but rather of an ounce consisting of 2/3 consisting of copper etc.
— Karl Marx (Grundrisse)
With debasement the problem is not that the quantity of money has increased, and therefore prices have gone up, but rather that since the copper that is being mixed in with the gold has a lower labor-time value, that is what has diminished the value of the money. If there were just more gold on the market but if it were not mixed with copper, it would have no effect on prices, is how Marx sees it. Even though the people trading have no idea about the copper, the labor value as some metaphysical spirit causes the prices to go up.
The other way is described in Capital. He says here that if the value of gold goes down (because technology has improved, so it requires less labor to mine), prices raise, and when prices raise, it requires there to be more money circulating to circulate those commodities, hence more money comes into the market. Marx believes that prices go up first, and then more money comes onto the market because of that.
In proportion therefore as the adjusted prices of the commodities become universal, in proportion as their value comes to be estimated according to the new value of the metal, in that same proportion does the increased mas of metal which is necessary for the realization of the new prices become available. A one-sided observation of the events which followed the discovery of fresh supplies of gold and silver led some people in the seventeenth and more particularly in the eighteenth century to the false conclusion that the prices of commodities had risen because there was more gold and silver acting as the means of circulation. Henceforth we shall assume the value of gold as a given factor, as in fact it is if we take it at the moment when we estimate the price of a commodity
— Karl Marx (Capital Vol I)
The mixture in Marx's work of glimpses of genius and glimpses of mental retardation is more striking than in any other writer I've read. I think it can be explained by his fetish for centralized banking and ulterior motives. He's a smart guy, but when he writes for something he is promoting he has no problem writing nonsense. If you pull apart the good and bad in Marx I think you would see a pattern there
158monadicIn his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Marx says that you need a class of people whom you can hold up as representing all of society's interests. In the french revolution this was the bourgeoisie (middle class.)
No class of civil society can play this role without arousing a moment of enthusiasm in itself and in the masses, a moment in which it fraternizes and merges with society in general, becomes confused with it and is perceived and acknowledged as its general representative, a moment in which its claims and rights are truly the claims and rights of society itself, a moment in which it is truly the social head and social heart.
For the revolution of a nation, and the emancipation of a particular class of civil society to coincide, for one estate to be acknowledged as the estate of the whole society, all the defects of society must conversely be concentrated in another class, a particular estate must be the estate of the general stumbling-block, the incorporation of general limitation, a particular social sphere must be recognized as the notorious crime of the whole society, so that liberation from that sphere appears as general self-liberation.
The group must be fundamentally opposed to society, so the upholding of the group as the universal man at the same time destroys the existing order. Erode society by picking a group that is excluded by it and hold them up as representatives of human values.
Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation? Answer: In the formulation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong, but wrong generally, is perpetuated against it; which can invoke no historical, but only human title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in all-around antithesis to the premises of German statehood; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete re-winning of man.
He had been lamenting that the proletariat did not really exist in Germany yet, but that it had to be formulated so that it could be held up for a revolution to occur.
Any group which lies outside of civil society can be upheld as universal in order to destroy society by bringing justice to this group, but as far as the prole itself goes, Marx envisioned two requirements for that class to fulfill this role. One is that they must be propertyless, and the other is that they must be wound up in a world market without nationality.
This revolution can, of course, only be accomplished given two practical premises. For it to become an "intolerable" power, i.e a power against which men make a revolution, it must necessarily have rendered the great mass of humanity "properlyless"
Moreover, the mass of propertyless workers -- the utterly precarious position of labour -- power on a mass scale cut off from capital or from even a limited satisfaction and, therefore, no longer merely temporarily deprived of work itself as a secure source of life -- presupposes the world market through competition. The proletariat can thus only exist world-historically, just as communism, its activity, can only have a "world-historical" existence.
162monadic>>156 although, in a hyperbitcoinized world this would be different, but also so would be the metric for "circulating" money. With no intrinsic value other than being money, and a limited supply, the circulation of bitcoin from cold storage into retail could depend on prices as Marx would have it.
175Anonymousthere is a concept online called "brain worms, " i think that this applies to a great deal of Marxist thought, as if a tree has somewhat twisted and is now growing in a sick way, but has enough vitality to continue to iterate and grow.
176monadicThe entire Marxist case actually totally falls apart on pg 435 of Capital, in "The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value". So the value of labour is the amount of labour that goes into its sustenance, e.g, the hours it takes to produce food, housing, etc for the worker. This is the "absolute" labour value. But the worker is paid for an entire day of labor even though it may take, e.g, 3 hours of labour time value to supply his sustenance. The 3 hours is what the capitalist pays for the entire day of labour. Everything over those 3 hours is what Marx calls surplus labour, or surplus value, the only profit of the capitalist.
Profits can be made by either increasing the surplus labour, like making them work 12 hours a day instead of 8, or by decreasing the absolute labour value, by technological improvements in agriculture etc.
In order to make the value of labour-value go down, the rise in the productivity of labour must seize upon those branches of industry whose products determine the value of labour-power.
A fall in the value of labour-power is also brought about by an increase in the productivity of labour, and by a corresponding cheapening of commodities in those industries which supply the instruments of labour and the material for labour, ie the physical means of subsistence.
The cheapening of the commodity causes only a relative fall in the value of labour-power, a fall proportional to the extent to which that commodity enters into the reproduction of labour-power. Shirts, for instance, are a necessary means of subsitence, but are one out of many.
— Karl Marx (Capital Vol I)
He goes on to say that capitalists make absolute labour time less, and increase their profits, accidentally since from their point of view they are only making their particular production more efficient and profitable. He gives an example of a shirt maker who, from some invention, produces twice as many shirts in a day than before. The profit comes from this in an obvious way- the average shirt prices on the market remain the same, so he can sell his shirts for the same as everyone else while pocketing the profit on his increased production, until the time comes that every other factory adopts this and the average prices are lowered.
But since he has been paying the workers the same amount, and since for Marx profit can only come from an exploitation of the workers, Marx now has to jump through some ridiculous hoops. He immediately rushes to claim that the profit from this invention is, in fact, a profit from lowering absolute labour value. How is this so, if he is paying them the same? Because, Marx says, the value the worker adds to shirt production has increased (doubling output), thus the amount of shirts that need to be sold are now less to cover his absolue labour wage. Therefore there is more surplus labour being done and less absolute labour. In this way, Marx is claiming that the absolute labour wage ought to be determined by the profitability of the factory, which is contrary to his entire system.
>>175 yes definitely. The unfortunate effect of all these brain worms is it wastes smart young people's intellectual energies, and often postpones the discoveries of new truths for hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years.
Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.
— Immanuel Kant (Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim)
187monadicMarx claimed that, in response to legislation shortening the working day, Capitalists would simply make wokers work harder so that their products contain the same value. Marx writes,
The situation changes with the compulsory shortening of the hours of labour. This gives an immense empetus to the development of productivity and the more economical use of the conditions of production. It imposes on the worker an increased expenditure of labour-power, and a closer filling-up of the pores of the working day, i.e, a condensation of labour, to a degree which can only be attained within the limits of the shortened working day. This compression of a greater mass of labour into a given period now counts for what it really is, namely an increase in the quantity of labour. In addition to the measure of its "extensive magnitude", labour-time now aquires a measure of its intensity, or degree of density.
The denser hour of the 10-hour working day contains more labour, i.e expended labour-power, than the more porous hour of the 12-hour working day. Thus the product of one of the 10 hours has as much value as the product of 1 1/5th of the 12 hours, or even more.
— Karl Marx (Capital Vol I, pg 534)
But this "increase in the quantity of labour" is totally at odds with his definition of value. Remember that the value of labour for Marx is its *socially necessary labour*. So that if everyone worked little, or very hard, it's the average amount of labour necessary for any given product that defines value. Per Marx,
A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because abstract human labour is objectified or materialized in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured? By means of the quantity of the 'value-forming substance', the labour, contained in the article. This quantity is measured by its duration, and the labour-time is itself measured on the particular scale of hours, days, etc.
It might seem that if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labour expended to produce it, it would be the more valuable the more unskilful and lazy the worker who produced it, because he would need more time to complete the article. However, the labour that forms the substance of value is equal humab labour, the expenditure of identical human labour-power. The total labour-power of society, which is manifested in the values of the world of commodities, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour-power, although composed of unnumerable individual units of labour-power. Each of these units is the same as any other, to the extent that it has the character of a socially average unit of labour-power and acts as such, ie, only needs, in order to produce a commodity, the labour time which is necessary on average, or in other words is socially necessary. Socially necessary labour-time is the labour-time required to product any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labout prevalent in that society.
— Karl Marx (Capital Vol I, pg 135)
You may think his idea of intensified labour just changed as the book went and obtained some different significance, but this is not the case. Later on pg 656 (!),
Firstly, a working day of a given length always creates the same amount of value, no matter how the productivity of labour, and with it, the mass of the product and price of each single commodity produced may vary. If the value created by a working day of 12 hours is, say, 6 shillings, then, although the mass of the use-values produced varies with the productivity of labour, the value represented by 6 shillings will simply be spread over a greater or less number of commodities
— Karl Marx (Capital Vol I, pg 656)
I've finished reading Capital so this is the end of my notes. I'm going to be reading Böhm-Bawerk's critique of Marx soon so I may add something from that here.