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Why We Need Communism: Tent City University Lunchtime Meeting, 11 April

Discussion in 'protest, direct action and demos' started by Alfredo, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    Kind of odd response to my post if you don't mind me saying, your making a number of assumptions about me and my politics that my post does not give any suggestion of or rational for you to do so.

    In the post that you replied to, my main point was that the exploitation of labour is the essential feature of not just capitalist society, but any exploitative society. So number one priority for those who don't want to live in a society based on exploitation of others is to obliterate the social relations on which that exploitation rests, in this particular society, a capitalist one, that means the wage-labour/capital relation. So not sure how you portray me as (implicitly) wanting to have some kind of exploitative society when the main point of my post was to posit the need to get rid of the essence of exploitative society in general

    And I don't propose to keep the state, markets & money. My point made in the post you replied to, is that the OP contained a statement that communism could be defined by a 'world without states, markets and money'. My point is that getting rid of these things, but still having a society based on the exploitation of labour is a lot less communistic that one which retained some kind of system of money & markets but did not have as its essential feature, the exploitation of labour. If exploitation of labour (in any form, whether through forced labour or wage labour) does not exist, then things like money & markets lose the power that they have under a system of exploitation, and as I said would be relatively benign and in some cases even useful to a system of economic democracy, a point you agree with yourself

    And for those who claim that there is something inherently capitalistic about money & markets, in and off themselves - they need to explain why money & markets have existed for thousands and thousands of years without producing a capitalist society - if they are so inherently capitalistic why didn't they produce capitalism back then when they themselves were born? True they existed in the framework of other exploitative societies (feudal, slave etc..) but that doesn't make them inherently capitalistic. These things, ripped fom the exploitative relations that give them power would become benign and similar to genteel car boot sales and selling CD's of Italian dogs barking on ebay
  2. phildwyer

    phildwyer Gorau arf arf dysg

    It's relational with regard to human beings. That's so obvious that it goes without saying.

    The point however is that use-value, unlike exchange-value, is not relational to other values. Use-values are inherent in and inseparable from their objects.

    Try eating a potato without having a physical potato in your possession. Can't be done.
  3. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    it's not just about the relation between people though, it's much wider than that - and it is just as much about the relational aspect of use values to other use values

    what is the use value of a mobile phone (i.e. just a straight phone that does nothing else other than make/take calls) in a society that doesn't have a mobile phone network? It's no use at all. However your proposition is that the essence of a use value lies within the object in and off itself. However i'm sure you would agree a mobile phone in one society that has a communication network is a use value, but the same mobile phone in another society that does not have a communication network is not a use value. Now i'm sure you agree with this statement, but your premise/argument about use values being inherent in the thing in and off itself, would not allow you to agree with this as you say the use value of the mobile phone lies within the mobile phone in and off itself (and deny the relation aspect). So your premise/argument would lead you to argue that a mobile phone in a society without a mobile phone network is still a use value. I need to ask what is it useful for and to whom?

    But in reality we know that the same mobile phone in one place is a use value but in another place is not a use value - how then can it be the case that the utility of that object is, as you argue, inherent in that object when the same object loses its utility when simply moved from one place to another. If it's utility was inherent in the object then it should be a use value wherever it is, and it's use value should move with it, but it's not and it doesn't does it. The only way you can square this argument is to extend the definition of use value to one which includes things which are not not useful, which kind of defeats the point of the concept

    Utility is a relational concept - between things & people and things & other things
  4. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    who are they useful to then if they just exist on their own? If no one (i.e. a second or third party, assuming the food/water is the first party) is in their presence what are they useful for? and to who?

    edit: have re-read your post and i'm guessing you mean that the first party is a human and not the food/water. This still shows that use values are a relational concept though, the essence & source of utility is found in the relation between the object and the subject, not within the object in and off itself
  5. magneze

    magneze mnemonic beef

    So you at least agree that it's not intrinsic.
  6. phildwyer

    phildwyer Gorau arf arf dysg

    Yes, yes, I agree with all that. Obviously any meaning of any kind only exists in a human environment etc.

    But the difference between use-value and exchange-value remains the fact that use-value is inherent in the object being used. It is not necessarily always inherent therein, but it is never not inherent therein.

    (ETA) That's not very clear. What I mean is that, even though we can imagine a society in which a mobile phone would have no use-value, that does not alter the fact that any use-value it possesses for us is the result of its inherent, intrinsic properties.

    Is that any clearer?
  7. phildwyer

    phildwyer Gorau arf arf dysg

    On the contrary, I have just said that it is intrinsic.
  8. magneze

    magneze mnemonic beef

    I disagree, but there you go. You seem as entrenched as I.
  9. Rogue_Leader

    Rogue_Leader Almost not completely ignorant.

    Economics being a science of human behaviour, isn't it whorishly pseudo-intellectual wankery to pretend that you don't understand that humans are assumed to be part of any proposed system or scenario?

    I mean, for the sake of fuck:

  10. magneze

    magneze mnemonic beef

    Dunno what you're on about mate. Intrinsic has a pretty basic definition though. Fuck all to do with economics or science.
  11. JimW

    JimW 支那暗杀团

    If you'd realised you'd missed his point three pages ago we could have been saved this. Value isn't intrinsic, you were wrong.
  12. camouflage

    camouflage Do not read this sentence.

    'Economic Science', lol.
    Spanky Longhorn and icebreaker like this.
  13. ayatollah

    ayatollah Well-Known Member

    I think YOU have misunderstood my reply to YOUR post actually. I'm certainly NOT suggesting you in any way are proposing some sort of exploitative society - since your post's explicitly state that you don't. My POINT is that whereas I can see how (limited) markets and continued money useage (as a means of exchange) can be encompassed within a democratically run socialist society with collective ownership of the means of production and exchange, WITHOUT exploitation existing -- I am struggling to understand the overall social framework for YOUR proposal for a non exploitative society which still operates with markets and money.

    It is true, and we surely agree here, that markets and money usage have existed within ancient slave based and feudal societies (though in the Feudal case of course capitalism DID eventually undermine and supercede this social form). But in those instances we surely still agree that the "dominant mode of production" has a clear form, and can be "labelled" appriopriately ? My question to you is : how would you characterise the social form .. the "mode of production" of YOUR "non exploitative society" with, (or indeed without) its markets and money usage ? It's no use just stating that you can envisage " These things, ripped from the exploitative relations that give them power ", without describing the social framework in at least an outline for achieving this. I don't think its an unreasonable point or question. I am assuming, it's true, that you aren't a socialist, so I'm genuinely at a loss to understand the overall social/political/power framework for this new social system.

    For instance a society composed of a collection of freely associating workers and consumer co-operatives, without an oppressive state, was one model proposed by radicals in the 19th century, but it is totally unclear how the capitalist system or its state could be replaced by such a set up. Anarchism does propose that we could pass directly to some form of this through revolution, without passing through a prolonged period of the "dictatorship of the proletariat". Is this the route to your new non exploitative society.. a variant of anarchism ?
  14. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    Two things

    firstly, pointing out that a world without 'states, markets or money' doesn't equate to a society free from exploitation - which as stated was the main point of my post to which you replied - doesn't mean I have to put forward a detailed 'proposal' for the overal social framework in which a society which did not contain exploitation could still retain markets & money. My analysis of markets & money is a materialist one, one which does not treat them as a-historical a-social eternal/essentialised type things which have an inherent essence independent from the social relations on which they rest. My point is an analytical one, it's pointing out the obvious - I don't need to put forward a 'proposal' for the overal social framework in which a society which did not contain exploitation could still retain markets & money to make the point that I made.

    secondly though, as it happens, I put forward exactly the kind of thing you are asking for above in a previous post to you here - I asked you for your thoughts on this previously and you failed to response to it, yet again here you are asking the same questions despite them being answered previously and you ignoring them. I'll quote some of that post for your benefit here

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  15. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    Good. I'm glad you now agree with my position, which i've been stating since my first post on this thread, that the essence of use value is a relational concept, one that is dependent on the relations between things and people and things and other things, and not intrinsic to a particular object in and off itself
  16. phildwyer

    phildwyer Gorau arf arf dysg

    It is both dependent on the thing's relation to people and inherent in the intrinsic properties of the thing itself.

    The important point is that the thing itself must be literally present in order for its use-value to be realized, while it must be absent in order to realize its exchange-value.
  17. Rogue_Leader

    Rogue_Leader Almost not completely ignorant.

    Where exactly did I use that risible phrase?
  18. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Well-Known Member

    While it is true that it is possible to envisage a world without markets and money (not sure about without states) that is exploitative as there are plenty of historical examples of this, it is still the case that a communist society would have to be a society in which markets and money do not exist. Communism (in its true sense and original sense before Lenin, Stalin and the USSR) means that productive resources are owned in common, ie none of them are owned by rich individuals, corporations or states, but are simply there to be used. It follows from this that whatever is produced is also owned in common. As markets and money imply separate owners of products who exchange things they own these make no sense in a society of common ownership. The question that arises in such a society is not how to sell products (how can you buy or sell something of which you are a co-owner?), but how to share out, distribute, give people access to what has been produced. Ideally, in accordance with the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

    In other words, a society which retains money and markets cannot be communist. It is true that it is possible to envisage a society with these that would be non-exploitative. This would have to be a society of small-scale producers and traders in which everyone worked for themselves, ie without wage-labour, and exchanged things to satisfy their needs not to make a profit, a bit like what some in the Green Party used to envisage. The nearest it came to existing would have to have have been a few centuries ago in parts of Switzerland and New England. The trouble is, given the development and nature of modern-day technology and productive techniques, it is completely unrealistic today. We can't go back to 17th century New England. The only possible non-exploitative society today is one based on productive resources being the common heritage of all - and in which markets and money would be redundant.
  19. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    You are mixing up & conflating productive assets with the fruits of those productive assets, i.e. personal possessions & use values held by an individual

    My post which stated that the essence of a non-exploitative society is one where there is no exploitation of labour implies a society where the private ownership of means of production can not be used to exploit the labour of others for the benefit of a few. So at this point we are agreed that the productive resources/means of production are not only owned collectively (in some way or another lets leave out the mechanics of this for just now) but are used towards the production of things that satisfy the needs & wants of all members of society (again lets leave out the mechanisms as to how this would actually happen for the time being) and unlike our current system the production of things to satisfy needs is the primary & sole purpose, not a means to something else (i.e. the appropriation of surplus value).

    So at this stage we have a society where society in general and people individually enjoy the fruits of the productive capacities of that society either in accordance with their needs, or, in accordance with some other equitable means of distribution where the productive resources of that society are unable to produce the level of things required to satisfy 100% of those needs to 100% of the population

    So assuming i'm a member of that society - are you seriously suggesting that my boxer shorts would be commonly owned by the rest of the society, that there would be a register somewhere logging that I have 'borrowed' those boxer shorts from the society, that anyone else could come round and inspect them when they wanted or even take them as they just as much belonged to someone else as they did to me? Despite this being absurd and a thoroughly totalitarian basis for what is meant to be a free and non-exploitative society - it is also absolutely redundant in regards the aims & objectives of that society.

    This is because if productive assets are held & managed in common, and the distribution of the fruits of those productive assets managed in an equitable manner and according to need, then the existence of private ownership of personal items in no way contradicts the aims & objectives of that society. In fact the existence of some kind of secondary market could actually facilitate the smooth distribution of the collectively produced use values between people. If my child has a small bike and has grown to big for it, and someone down the road has a small child who wants to learn to ride a bike and someone else further down the road has a child who is nearly grown up and no use for their bigger childs bike. An effective redistribution of those originally distributed use values could take place to ensure the ongoing needs & wants of society's citizens are met. Now the effective redistribution of those bikes is not likely to happen by barter as that demands that all parties are close by each other and have things that the other wants. So some kind of money token would need to be used to facilitate the redistribution of things between these parties. So here we have 'money' being used within a 'market' within a non exploitative society for non exploitative ends, i.e. being used in a manner consistent with the objectives of the society it is part of - to ensure the efficient distribution of use values to those who need them

    The existence of that 'money' and those 'markets' are there in this society to ensure the aims of the society are met (i.e. the distribution of use values to those who need them). Which coincidentally the people who claim that money & markets are inherently capitalistic/exploitative and have no place in a non-exploitative society, never seem to put forward any kind of proposals as to the mechanisms in which the aims of a non-exploitative society would be met. Yet when someone like me attempts to do just that, people start jumping up and down saying that those mechanisms would be exploitive.

    The reason that these kind of secondary markets for use values (and the monetary tokens that would be used to facilitate exchange of those use values to avoid a barter situation) would not be exploitative is that the primary objective of production in our society would be one that is based on need. So the markets wouldn't be the primary way of distribution as they currently are, but an effective and efficient means of redistribution of things once they had actually left the productive arena and distributed as use values. No one would be able to build up large quantities of either surplus money or surplus use values as production is organised and distributed according to need. And even if someone was able to build up a bigger stock of money through some loophole, they would be unable to use this to exploit the labour of others as there would be no way that money could be turned into capital. This is because Labour would not be forced to sell itself privately on the market in a society where production is organised and distributed according to need.

    Clearly such a society i mention is somewhat utopian and in some ways raises more questions than it answers, and the ability of a society to produce and distribute to satisfy the needs and wants of a global population is one which is in some doubt due to the variety of environmental & resource issues the world faces today, but this doesn't detract from the basic point that money & markets could play a part in a non-exploitative society. And such a society would certainly be less exploitative than one where money & markets did not exist but the exploitation of labour continued - which was the point of my original post on this topic
  20. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    Well I'm glad you've now accepted the relational nature of use values, but you still need to go one step further and recognise the relational aspect is not only between things & people but also between the things and other things

    Our mobile phone in the possession of a person in a society with no communication network is still not a use value remember - that's why i said it's about the relation of things to people and things to other things. Even a potato in it's natural state under the ground is not a use value unless its brought to a condition where it can be consumed, i.e. dug up, transported to a place of potato eaters etc, this generally involves it coming into a relation with other use values/things for it to realise it's potential as a use value - during this process the intrinsic qualities of the potato do not change, but it is transformed from being a non-use value to a use value

    One last example on this - take the use value of labour power to capital (i.e. the ability, during productive consumption of it, for it to produce more value than it itself contains) - this use value only comes about if the labour power is set in motion alongside (brought into relation with) other use values, i.e. the means of production

    So other than isolated cases of things like someone eating an apple that's fallen of a tree or drinking water from a stream - all use values are dependent on a relation not only been object & subject, but between object and other objects

    So we can once and for all dispel this myth that the essence of a use value can be found entirely within a particular object - the essence of it is contained in the relation between things & people and things & other things

    This is a different point to the initial argument, I don't disagree with it, but it feels like a change of subject
  21. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Well-Known Member

    Of course not. That's not what I said or meant. What I meant was that everything that was produced would be owned in common at the point when it had been produced. All boxer shorts produced would be commonly owned and therefore would not need to be given a price-tag and put out for sale, but would be made available for people to take and use. Obviously, once somebody's taken some they are theirs to use and keep. They will become part of their "personal possessions" as you put it or, as I'd prefer to put it, part of the things for their personal use.

    On your other point, no doubt in a money-free, communist society people will still want to give away things that they no longer want to use and maybe even to swap them, but are you seriously suggesting that there will need to be a bureaucracy to register and issue receipts and IOUs for such gifts and swaps?
  22. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    where did i suggest such a thing? I specifically said that such a bueracractic mechanism would not only be oppressive, but completely redundant. I said the redistribution of things would happen between the parties involved using some of the technical/functional mechanisms of a market and money (but making those mechanisms subordinate to the objective/aims of the society) - where do you get this register and bureaucracy from in what i wrote?
  23. ayatollah

    ayatollah Well-Known Member

    I'm afraid that I DID wade through the extraordinarily unfocussed material you recommended to me, some time ago, but remained quite unable to boil it down to any coherent model of a social system which has abolished exploitation. I was hoping that by now the IWCA had something a lot more focussed and understandable. Apparently not. All the extremely verbose material the IWCA puts forward is proposing IMO some sort of modified capitalist system in which extensive amounts of "workers democratic control" and workers co-ops have served to alleviate the worst aspects of capitalist oppression and exploitation - and then since it is described as "just a work in progress" .. after all these years, there is no attempt to firm up any of the , often contradictory , models outlined.

    I have to admit I find the IWCA's politics hard to categorise, beyond "working class-based local activism", combined with a deep antagonism and contempt for socialism, and a writing off of trades union militancy , and a very dubious "take" on "multiculturalism" and the associated belief that the "left" nowadays is only concerned with non-white communities and "identity politics" --- a strange and unsettling brew indeed.

    Though , strangely enough, I can agree with your point that "a world without 'states, markets or money' doesn't (necessarily ) equate to a society free from exploitation " . So at least we agree on THAT, if apparently nothing else. However it DOESN't therefore follow that because this statement is demonstrably true , from historical evidence of ancient societies, that its obverse : "a society which did not contain exploitation could still retain markets & money" is also obviously true -- UNLESS you can provide a coherent model of a society to demonstrate this. Your logic is simply faulty I'm afraid. We DO need that model as evidence to prove your point.
  24. love detective

    love detective secret pint

    So instead of engaging with the work put forward, and providing constructive criticism as invited, you just choose to ignore it - the point of the economic democracy work was to act as a starting point, to stimulate debate as to how a model, fit for purpose in contemporary times could be visioned. It says a lot that people, like yourself, who are critical off it avoid any kind of honest engagement or debate with it - instead you just ignore it and type things like SOCIALISM in CAPITAL letters from time to time and nothing else. As for you you saying 'after all these years' - the economic democracy stuff has been put out over the last couple of years, and as mentioned it was put forward as the IWCA's contribution to try and stimulate a much needed debate about what such a model could be, what vision do we need etc. Clearly you, like others on the conservative left (and insular academia) however have no interest in that debate as it's not rooted in and based on stale failed and discredited dogma which is no longer fit for purpose (if it ever was), i.e. your interest lies purely within examining historical artefacts as an end in itself

    what's your model out of interest, and what is the means of getting there? you seem to be saying I can't make a logical point without backing it up with a fully packaged coherent & integrated social model with a gilt edged guarantee that it would 100% meet the objectives of it - let's have yours then? And i'm betting you won't be able to say anything more, in terms of substance, than I have already done. Repeating the aims of a non-exploitative society as the means and method of how it can be obtained is not an option either which is what you usually do (and neither remember is doing the same and putting some of it in CAPITAL letters)

    edit: I can't believe actually that you are demanding evidence for what is essentially an a priori and definitional statement made by me - i.e. that a society which has as its basis, the exploitation of labour, is going to be inherently more exploitatve than one that doesn't. This is the essence of my first post on this matter which you jumped onto - do you really need evidence or a proposal for a social framework in order to understand that an exploitative society is by definition going to be more exploitiative than a non-exploitaitve society?

    You seem to be implying something that contradicts what you yourself have said explicitly - i.e. that some of the technical/functional elements of market mechanisms could be used to the benefit of society in a non-exploitative way within a non-exploitative set of social relations
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  25. frogwoman

    frogwoman Whatever's meant to go here.

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  26. Louis MacNeice

    Louis MacNeice Autumn Journalist

    RL this is a very poor attempt at dismissal due to not engaging with the first half of the post. As for the second half, you seem quite able to attribute meaning to it in a later post (albeit erroneously...the demand for a 'free market' is deliberately missing from my touchy feely paean to communism), so meaningless would seem wide of the mark.

    Louis MacNeice
  27. Louis MacNeice

    Louis MacNeice Autumn Journalist

    Committed narcissist bridles at the expression of a desire for community and solidarity shocker. This is thin stuff even judged by the usual standards of reflection from dywerworld.

    Louis MacNeice
  28. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    One poster doesn't like their writing style being criticised by another shocker.
  29. Louis MacNeice

    Louis MacNeice Autumn Journalist

    I don't mind phil's criticisms (in part because they are not the real substatce of his posts); it's his predictable, dullard, one club, attention seeking that grates.

    Cheers - Louis MacNeice
  30. Rogue_Leader

    Rogue_Leader Almost not completely ignorant.

    I'm sorry, I didn't realise it was a serious point. I thought it was an inept parody of Soviet socialist realist propaganda. You have to admit that it was pretty light on specifics.

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