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Problems of Value Production (1): The intensity of production — S. Artesian (December 2, 2018) | The Wolf Report: Nonconfidential analysis for the anti-investor

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Source: The Wolf at the Door

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Problems of Value Production (1)

The intensity of production

 

Competition, according to an American economist, determines how many days of simple labor are contained in one day’s compound labor. Does not this reduction of days of compound labor to days of simple labor suppose that simple labor is itself taken as a measure of value? If the mere quantity of labor functions as a measure of value regardless of quality, it presupposes that simple labor has become the pivot of industry. It presupposes that labor has been equalized by the subordination of man to the machine or by the extreme division of labor; that men are effaced by their labor; that the pendulum of the clock has become as accurate a measure of the relative activity of two workers as it is of the speed of two locomotives. Therefore, we should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing; he is, at the most, time’s carcase. Quality no longer matters. Quantity alone decides everything; hour for hour, day for day;  

Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy

In Marx’s analysis the commodity embodies and binds together time and space.   The commodity possesses both physical and social characteristics, even if the commodity is provided as a service.  The social existence is of time.  The commodity circulates on the back of a mule called socially necessary labor time.

Similarly, in Marx’s work wealth and poverty in capitalism are expressed in both physical and social terms.

For capitalism, wealth is the access to use-values, mediated by private ownership of the means of production.

For socialism, wealth is access to the abundance use-values, mediated by necessity.

In all societies, wealth is the disposition over time.  All economies are economies of time, but not all economies of time are economies of value.

For socialism, wealth is the ability to expend collective time to the benefit of all individuals.

For capitalists, for capitalism, wealth is the disposition over the time of others
Poverty is the scarcity, the lack of, and lack of access to, use-values.  Scarcity is a class distinction, enforced by capital.

In capitalism, poverty is the loss of time in and to the mode of production.  It is a sacrifice that devours the time of the laborers, strips it away through alienation.  Alienation is not a psychological process, but a commercial one; an exchange that converts the laborers’ time into the property of the capitalists.

As time is alienated, embedded in the commodity as value, it is weaponized.  Value accumulates and returns to production as machinery.  The machinery is designed to reduce the labor-time required to produce any single unit of output while increasing the time aggrandized and materialized yet again as more commodities.

Labor-time is the source of value, but it only becomes, and begets, value under specific conditions, specific social relations of classes which reproduce the alienation of the laborers’ time.

Time is everything.

Or is it? Continue reading