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Selected Political Correspondence

June 2003

   Text coloring decodes as follows:
 Black:  Ken Ellis
 Blue:  Recent correspondent
 Purple:  Unreliable Info
 Green:  Press report, third party, etc.
 Red:  Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
 Brown:  True to Marxist intent



   camben quoted Lady Elf:

>>> Why don't we think to bring the system down? And how would we do that?
> I've often wondered how this system could be dismantled.

   The system is bringing itself down. Productivity increases at a double exponential rate. Soon it won't take any human effort to create necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. Far-fetched as it may seem, human labor could be replaced by new technologies in less than 30 years, simultaneously abolishing the worker-boss relation. Sad as some working conditions might be at present, at least toil will have a happy ending - its own abolition. Speed that day.



   Lady Elf quoted me:

>> The system is bringing itself down.
> And with it, it is also bringing down other life?
> Elf

   I suppose it's conceivable that the wheels of industry could roll on and on, and roll over a placid society, but joblessness is an issue over which people have been vocal in the past, and will continue to be.

   Some exciting news in the Wall Street Journal of 5/29, possibly indicating the beginning of the end of 40 hour-per-week wage-slavery. They wrote: "Instead of expanding employment, companies are continuing to shed jobs at a furious pace - 525,000 nonfarm payroll positions in the past 3 months alone. ... Since March 2001, when the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 2.1 million jobs. ... In short, the U.S. is experiencing the most protracted job-market downturn since the Great Depression. ... Worker productivity has been growing faster than the overall economy. ... Productivity growth means that companies are squeezing more output from existing workers. Over the long run, most economists agree productivity growth is good for workers, because it tends to lead to higher wages. ... At the beginning of 8 recoveries between 1948 and 1982, GDP grew faster than productivity. In those cases, companies had to add workers to meet demand for their goods and services. During the recovery of 1991, productivity grew slightly faster than output in the early stages, but the difference wasn't as stark as it is now."

   The economy is changing fast, and the computer technology that was too immature to deliver a net labor savings until 1995 is now finally proving its worth at an accelerating pace. It won't be long before labor savings will finally force stricter legislation to help spread the vanishing work. By means of increasingly stricter legislation, wage slavery will gradually be abolished over the next couple of decades. The abolition of labor and class distinctions have been a long time coming, so the latest news is something to cheer. Job losses should not be regarded as a tragedy over which to give up and be helpless, but as an opportunity over which to organize to maintain full employment until employment itself is abolished. Increasing amounts of time away from wage slavery will allow more time for humanitarian projects. In that way, the destructive aspects of capitalism can be alleviated, all of the way to the abolition of capitalism itself.



   Al B. quoted my previous paragraph (immediately above):

>> The economy is changing fast ... etc.
> You're
dreaming. What makes you think that the rich want this to happen
> and they and their corporations (and the
government that they own) will
> allow it?

   There's more of us than there are of them, so we have more voting power than they do. Because politicians chase votes, they'll do what the voters say, or will fail to be elected and re-elected. Unemployment will soon become a very big issue, and people will demand effective solutions that won't cost taxpayers an arm and a leg. Stricter labor regulations are just the ticket for controlling unemployment at no expense whatsoever.

> I see a growth of the lower class and a middle class of servants
> who work the corporations, not your
> Al

   Servitude isn't very attractive. Thankfully, all human servants will soon be replaced with higher tech models that can work 24/7 in harsh environments. Human liberation will arrive soon. Ray Kurzweil's testimony to a Congressional Committee teaches about the speed of the rate of change. See:

   At the year 2000 rate of change, the 20th century on the whole experienced a mere 20 years of progress. But, gauging by the same year 2000 rate of change, the 21st century will experience 20,000 years of progress. Progress accelerates at a dizzying double exponential rate. So many technologies will converge by the year 2029 that it's impossible to make any kind of realistic prediction for any year beyond then. That's similar to not being able to determine what happens after being sucked into a black hole in space. All of the old paradigms are being rapidly obsolesced.



   camben wrote:

> The problem is that most of us want to be like them. We want to be the
> haves, and not equal to everyone else. I don't know why. For some, it's
> about the big truck or fast car, for others it's about the big house with
> lots of stuff in it. For others it's about having the best seats at the
> opera, or at the
WWF Royal Rumble (or whatever its called).

   It's so true. Everyone wants much more than what they already have. It may not stop until all of our desires are instantly gratified, sometime off in the future, when human labor becomes extraneous to production, and the infinite ease of acquiring new stuff makes lusting after it appear totally backward, and our behavior evolves into the opposite from today.

> The reason we have the need to work so much is so that we have more money
> to do or buy more things. THEY want us to spend money all the time. A
20 hour
> work week
and a simple lifestyle would never keep GM selling new cars, or Sony
> selling more
Playstations. They want us to crave Pepsi or Bud when we're thirsty,
> sitting in heat of the VIP section at the
Indy 500, wearing our Tommy H shorts
> and tee and applying
Coppertone to our arms and face, making sure we don't
> get our
Oakleys smudged.
> This stuff isn't for the wealthy. It's for people of moderate means who want
> to buy self image. We want to be the cool kids we were or weren't in high
> school. And parents want their kids to be cool kids too. And the
> wants you to keep trying, so you keep fuelling the economy.
> I see this kind of suggestive advertising everywhere where I live
> (Vancouver, Canada), but I suspect it's similar everywhere. I don't
> remember ever thinking about stuff like this when I was 8. But I see
> kids that age wearing
name-brand stuff.
> I can say this. At $20 (I use this amount because it is the entry wage
> for journeyman electrician, which is what I'm changing to)
per hour, a
> person should be able to live a modest lifestyle, be able to afford modest
> entertainments, and a modest vacation, and save money, all at working
24-30 hours a week. Provided they have no debt. And I could show my
> personal balance sheet to prove it (everyone should do one of these).
> We don't all make $20/
hour, some of us more some less (remember
> I'm in Canada - this works out to about $15/
hr US).

   When I was working in San Fran's East Bay in the 1990's as an electrician's helper, $15/hr US was my rate, and it was enough to be comfortable. But, I was merely 'on call', so I often had lots of time off, sometimes too much, though I appreciated having lots of time to scribble.

> Ultimately, I don't believe that a majority of the population
> will want to
change the system.

   I agree. None but a very few are ever going to want to mess around with 'what works'. But, that doesn't mean that the system isn't evolving, and that it isn't bringing itself down, because it is. Capital and labor appear in a mad dash to end their relationship by making labor redundant to the process of production. As soon as necessities can be produced without human labor, and are then free to all, capitalism as we know it will cease to be, unless the employment system hangs around for a while longer for the sake of producing luxuries. But, 'labor' might then be purely voluntary, and would probably lose its association with the duress of the present age.

> Economic strife is more likely to reduce the workweek.
> Cam

   That seems quite right, especially considering modern European struggles for shorter work hours, often carried on by strong unions. But, shorter work hours are also sometimes legislated, like France's 35 hour work week.

   'Refuse to work overtime for less than double time.'



   Lady Elf wrote:

> Ken,
> Your
idealism for the work force amazes me,

   How do my scribblings reflect idealism? Is the abolition of labor not on the agenda for the future?

> and I wonder how individuals can get out
> of the
work force with such enthusiasm
> backing it. ???
> Elf

   Individual solutions unfortunately elude me. I failed to pull myself up by my bootstraps, so I've been 'reduced' to musing about social solutions.

   The social solution to all of our workplace woes will arrive when it's no longer necessary to labor in exchange for food, clothing and shelter. That social solution will take another 2 or 3 decades to arrive. In the meantime, there's still lots of work to do, though 'many hands make light work', so making the economy as inclusive as possible is smarter than Bush's approach.



   Cam B. wrote:

> I don't mean to squash an idealistic image, because I have some, too,

   What's yours? Let's compare images. Society evolved in the past, and will evolve in the future. Which way?

> but it is not technology that drives the methodology.

   If not technology, then what does? Engels once wrote: "It is the revolutionising of the means of production, as it develops, that also revolutionises people's minds."

> We currently have the capacity and
> technology to feed all the people in
> the world, but we don't

   In that case, then, hunger is a political problem, not an economic problem, correct? At least hunger is definitely a purely political problem in the USA, where 80% of the people worked the land 200 years ago, but only 2% do now, proving that hunger in America is 99.9% political, just like unemployment. No one in the USA should be hungry, and no one should be jobless or homeless. But, they all seem to be national policy, hangovers of perhaps Calvinism, Puritanism, or some other kind of moral system that allows some to amass great wealth in the midst of a sea of poverty.

   As for feeding the entire world, I'm not so sure about defining that as a purely political problem, as American resources would have to be pulled out of some areas of the economy to bolster agriculture. I'm not sure if people would be willing to go that far with their humanitarianism. The fact that hunger is tolerated even within the USA indicates that our humanitarianism has already worn through in some spots. Starvation in foreign countries barely makes the news. It won't be like this for tooooo much longer, though. Humanity is wading its way through centuries of labor, want, deprivation, famine and pestilence, and is heading for a sheltering paradise.

> (although eventually there will just be too many people).

   I agree that we already have more than enough people. Some countries experiencing the greatest hunger have the fastest growing populations.

> It is in the governments best interest to keep people
> as busy as possible
. The more free time people have,
> the more likely it is that people may actually want
> to
participate in their democracy.

   I used to think that way, but not any more, not since I finally figured out that I was an unwitting victim of political hysterics, all designed to provoke me to smash the state, or subscribe to hostility as a solution.

   If bosses could at all prevent the demise of their class privilege, they would do something real about retarding the double exponential rise in productivity that promises to someday put them all out of business. But, economics militates madly dashing to innovate, which can't go on for more than a few more decades before everyone gets put out of work. That fact should put a smile on the face of every wage slave. It certainly isn't anything to frown about, unless freedom is too scary to think about after all of the obedience to authority we've internalized.

> And I'm not talking about voting for one of two
> repugnant leaders - I'm talking about being aware
> of decisions that are being made. Those people may
> actually wish to educate themselves in local and world
> issues. I believe that work has detached people from their
> communities. And
consumerism does this even more.

   Yes, you have that right. It's called 'division of labor'. We do the work, they make the decisions. It won't change much until we get more time to oversee their policy making. A shorter work week would certainly give us more time to oversee, as well as reduce competition for scarce jobs.

> There are many things that the power elite do to prevent change.
> One of those is public ridicule. How many people would be ridiculed
> for asking their boss if they could work
20 hours a week, at reduced
> pay, yet still expect to work those
hours regularly with impunity?
> You would not only be laughed at by your boss, but anyone else
> who knew what foolishness you were up to.

   That would be a case of retaliation provoked by jealousy. Everyone would like to be able to get by on a 20 hour week, but peer pressure prevents admitting as much. The rat race is a bad habit, just the way a club of smokers wouldn't want to see one of their own quit cold turkey, and would disown them if they did. The old attitude toward a shorter work week won't last much longer.

> I don't believe technology is a saviour. It is a convenience.
> And it has stripped us of our survival skills. And it has
> robbed us of creativity. Not everyone, but most.

   Technology may not quite yet be a savior, because it's still quite stupid. But, give it a chance. As soon as computers and robots sport human intelligence (and more), they will be put to work 24/7 in harsh environments rather than us fragile crybabies who have the nerve to demand wages!, time off!, medical leave!, pensions!, insurance!, etc. The nerve of us. We can be replaced with devices programmed not to complain.



   Lady Elf wrote:

> It just sounded like ... to me ...
> that you believe That somehow,
society would work it all
> out and become fair and what not in regards to working.

> That's what I see as idealism.

   I see. Yes, my newer world view is a bit optimistic. I used to be a demonizer who wanted the rich and powerful to fall, and every radical group promised they could deliver those goods. But, they never got anywhere, and none of them internally operate in a manner that would set a shining example for the rest of us, so something else must be going on. Something else must be happening.

   Quick fixes don't cut the mustard. A microscopic exam of my old revolutionary party's lies led to a new world view. Figuring out that bringing down the rich was feasible only after overthrowing tottering absolute monarchies, or after liberating colonies, but never after winning mere elections - that was a milestone, for it taught that the rich will never be brought down in a violent struggle in the most democratic societies. Ooh, that hurt, for awhile.

   There's not much left but for everyone to become as rich as the richest, which will happen when the old struggle for survival goes the way of the spinning wheel and the bronze axe. It won't happen tomorrow, but it's coming anyway, and all that's left to do in the meantime is to work and wait. Plus, we should think about how society is fated to evolve, and hammer out some details of the guesswork. Look for what's dynamic, and what's changing. Extrapolate to the not-too-distant future. Agree on some details. Extrapolate further, and even further, until further extrapolation ceases to bear fruit.

> I strongly agree with the person who said that those in power
> will never give that up
... and short of a collapse, they will
always force people to be part of the system or locked up.
> Elf

   Gee, that's pretty pessimistic. I used to think that way, until I figured out how badly I'd been lied to by business people who were merely selling violent solutions, and were laughing all of the way to the bank.

   Thinking one's way out of a truly pessimistic and depressing world view may not be easy, but it's worth doing for the peace of mind that can result.

   {Later: What gives people power over others is the division of labor. Abolish labor, and the division of labor falls as well, and no one will have a reason to obey or follow anyone else.}



   Blaine D. wrote:

> In fact, most of the world would be quite able to feed itself, were it not for
civil wars destroying crops (and killing farmers, and pulling others away
> from their farms), and rapacious
governments who either do not care
> about the populace, or actively dislike certain segments. Note that
> most such
governments are created and propped up by the
U.S. government or U.S. corporations.

   That's quite true, but I was trying to address what I thought was the intent of the original message. Cam wrote:

> We currently have the capacity and technology to feed all the people in the
> world, but we don't (although eventually there will just be too many people).

   By 'We', I understood Cam to be saying that 'the USA could feed the world if it wanted.' Hence my answer to the effect: 'agricultural production would have to be ramped up in the USA, and resources re-allocated from other areas of the economy to agriculture.'

   But, what you say is absolutely true, and addressing all of the political problems is a superior way to address world hunger than by the USA growing all of the food.



   Lady Elf quoted me:

>> Gee, that's pretty pessimistic. I used to think that way, until I
>> figured out how badly I'd been lied to by business people who were
>> merely selling
violent solutions, and were laughing all of the way
>> to the bank.
>> Thinking one's way out of a truly pessimistic and depressing world
>> view may not be easy, but it's worth doing for the peace of mind that
>> can result.
> Elf responds:
> I don't see it as
thinking pessimistically as thinking
> realistically. Knowing how things really are frees
> me into acting in ways that do make differences.
> Lunch is over ... so that is all I have time for ...
> Elf
> -------------

   Maybe you are right. Lots of critiques of the status quo have great merit. Some of the stuff that goes on in the world is quite rotten. Zillions of activists devote lots of energy into correcting abuses, and that's right on.

   But, when I think about 'bringing down the system', dismantling it, etc., then that's when it's so easy to be misled into thinking that a quick fix is conceivable. Conceivable, perhaps, but practical, no. Class divisions, division of labor, working for a living, politics, democracy, graft, corruption, etc., will survive until the abolition of human labor itself, which is the soonest date when the far-off classless and stateless society envisioned by socialists, anarchists and communists will finally be feasible. But, to try to rush the new society into being before the abolition of labor is to adhere to impossible dreams. We are stuck with a lot of the same-old same-old for a couple of more decades, no matter what. If modern alienation would be effectively reduced in the meantime, then attack surplus value by replacing time and a half with double time, advocate longer paid vacations, more paid holidays, a shorter work week, etc. Time would be the target instead of power and property. But, the old solutions plausible in the 19th century still have a powerful grip on modern minds, even though the old solutions cannot possibly apply to 21st century democracies.

   Message from Cam duly noted; take as much time as necessary.

   Lady Elf quoted me:

>> At least hunger is definitely a purely political problem in the USA,
> Just about everything is political! :)

   That's certainly true. I was counterpoising today's hunger to that of the bad old days, when the majority of the people worked the land, and a crop failure could devastate a community if no one else in the world knew about it, and if transportation were so primitive as to render relief out of the question. In a case like that, hunger would then be purely economic.



   Ben W. quoted me:

>> Is the abolition of labor not on the agenda for the future?
> That may be the "public posture" of '
government incorporated'; that is it's
probably on some agendas publicly acclaimed by various propaganda agencies,

   No government agency I know of will ever admit that the abolition of labor might be a future possibility. They'd be afraid of a storm of speculation about the future. The security of zillions of people in this dog-eat-dog world depends upon ability to work, so the prospect of someday not finding work would petrify. With present-day predator mentalities, a workless society just doesn't compute, no more than being sent to the moon without oxygen. Clearly people are not yet mentally prepared for a big change.

> but do you believe that their _real_ agendas include giving up control
> of large populations by offering free room and board for all
? In return
> for what?

   THEIR agendas? The old 'them-us' paradigm will also change in the near future as the length of the work week continues to fall, and the difference between worker and boss diminishes to zero. Them-us will become obsolete, and decisions will be made with full involvement.

> When I first read "Brave New World" about 50 years ago, I saw it as
> a kind of hillarious spoof, but certainly not a prediction of any future I
> could consider possible. Last summer I bought a used paperback for $.50
> and reviewed it. It was written in 1931, but the society described in it
> didn't seem nearly so "
far out" as it had the first time I read it. Perhaps
> fulfillment of some of the suggestions in Orwell's "
Ninteen Eighty Four" and
> "
Animal Farm" had gotten me to start thinking. I had also become more aware
> that few people in power will ever disclose their real agendas as long as
> their power to enforce those agendas is in question. I'd be curious to know
> your opinion of the chance that the
society described in this book might
> evolve from the present one
, and if so, how many decades it might take.
> Ben

   "Brave New World" certainly was interesting. It reflects an extreme of class divisions and authoritarianism that seemed real to Huxley, given the evolution of politics in Germany and Russia back then. Recent politics in both countries are certainly more conducive to hopes that the world can someday become 'one'. New trends in communications provide hopes that the "Brave New World" scenario will never come to pass.



   Ben W. quoted me:

>> economics militates madly dashing to innovate, which can't go on for more
>> than a few more decades before everyone gets
put out of work. That fact
>> should put a smile on the face of every
wage slave. It certainly isn't
>> anything to frown about, unless
freedom is too scary to think about
>> after all of the obedience to authority we've internalized.
> I think you are giving material things and impersonal 'entertainment'
too much importance and overlooking some of the things which are not
> so easy to define or identify, but which have more effect on human
> behavior and attitudes.

   I'm puzzled by this. Nothing I wrote seems to me to relate to "impersonal 'entertainment'". Perhaps that could be explained.

>> . . . . We do the work, they make the decisions. It won't change much
>> until we get more
time to oversee their policy making. A shorter work
>> week
would certainly give us more time to oversee, as well as reduce
>> competition for scarce jobs
> I don't know who "
they" is here,

   Politicians, government workers, captains of industry ... the power elite.

> but if you think whoever makes decisions affecting our culture
> now will welcome "
our" oversight of their policy making, you
> have discovered something I'd like to know more about.

   'They' may never welcome our oversight, but total equality is as inevitable as the fall of the old absolute monarchs, so the elite will someday get used to not being in the driver's seat. They've had it easy for a long time, but soon it'll be everyone's turn to relax.

> I haven't heard of a trend
> to a
shorter work week producing more jobs,

   Perhaps you haven't heard that France's 35 hour work week dropped unemployment levels from double digits down to single digits. Also, the AFL sponsored a 30 Hour workweek bill in the early 1930's, and it had so much support that it even passed the Senate. Why would Labor back such a bill? Because of the 25% unemployment during the Depression. The struggle for a shorter work day and week is a big part of labor history.

> but I've heard of more and more employers expecting
> more than
40 hours from their employees as a
> condition of
continued employment.

   Such demands may certainly apply to full-timers, but the average length of the work week in the USA now stands at 33.7 hours per week, due mostly to the rise of part time work. Due to the recession, overtime has fallen off considerably. The Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday said:

"The average workweek for production or nonsupervisory workers on private
nonfarm payrolls was unchanged in May at 33.7 hours, seasonally adjusted.
This followed a decline of 0.1 hour in April. The manufacturing workweek
gained 0.1 hour in May, bringing it to 40.2 hours. This followed a decline
of 0.3 hour in April. Manufacturing overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 4.1
hours in May."

   An old labor book claimed that the average work week in 1870 was 60 hours. So, what's the trend?

> Minimum wage workers are required to 'volunteer' for overtime;
> higher paid employees are expected to take on more work resulting
> in poorer service, taking work home,
longer (unpaid) hours at
> workplace, etc.

   Abuses certainly occur, which prompts us to figure out alternatives.

> BTW, do you also expect such things as
> medical care and security to be robotized?

   Medical care is also changing rapidly. By the time of the abolition of labor, cures for diseases will be so advanced that people won't get sick anymore, and will live much longer than they do today. Life expectancy is constantly on the rise.

   Doctors are increasingly implementing robotized surgical procedures, and robots are already helping with some nursing tasks, such as transferring patients from one bed to another.

   A society with the brains to reduce the work week (enough to put everyone to work) would no longer need 'security'. The need for locks and gates would evaporate, because a good living could be had for a few hours of work per week, so people would be far less apt to rob others. People mistakenly think that security can be obtained by investing in high-tech gadgets and by threatening with physical force, but security would be better sought in building good human relations. Maybe this answer will address your concern expressed early in this message, the one about me allegedly hyping the importance of material things.

> Would you like to be pulled over by a 'robo-cop' with
> infinite profiles of dangerous suspects in its memory bank,
> a program running on
windows, and a low battery?

   Mixing paradigms is bound to occur while people's thinking adjusts, but the future society won't need cops, because dangerous suspects won't exist. What reason would anyone have to take anything away from anyone else, when every necessity will be instantly available to all? Jails will be phased out.

>> Technology may not quite yet be a savior, because it's still quite stupid.
>> But, give it a chance. As soon as computers and robots sport
>> intelligence
(and more), they will be put to work 24/7 in harsh
>> environments rather than us fragile crybabies who have the
>> nerve to demand wages!,
time off!, medical leave!, pensions!,
>> insurance!, etc. The nerve of us. We can be replaced with
>> devices programmed not to complain.
> And it's
not hyperbole to say, "Over our dead bodies!"

   If today's paradigms, all of which reek of class distinctions, politics, scarcities, strife, envy, wage-slavery, etc., are regarded as intrinsically valuable {for future societies as well as for today's}, then of course protest is bound to erupt over changing to a new paradigm. It's to be expected, but people will learn.

> See my post on "Brave New World".
> Ben

   I checked it out. Neither of Huxley's choices looks very palatable, nor very likely, but it was a good warning about the approach of a disagreeable outcome if society continued developing too far along certain lines.



   Ben W. wrote:

> material riches I wished for (about what most would probably consider
> middle-class) could
never be be plentiful enough to be shared with the
> world populations (and even if they could, there
wouldn't be sufficient
> _space_ for everyone to enjoy them).

   Individuals amassing great personal wealth is a very familiar paradigm that is slated to go the way of the spinning wheel and bronze axe, for a world that tunes into the benefits of sharing the vanishing work will also become far less materialistic. The future world will have the potential to build gargantuan works without effort, but will probably choose to live simply.

> As for power, if shared equally, it ceases to be
> power - - it starts to look more like *
> if you are going to be tolerated by the rest of the gang.

   No argument there.

>> Quick fixes don't cut the mustard.
> I agree. All the quick fixes I can think of only traded one oppressor for
> another. When the USSR was young, and I believed _all_ its excesses and
> brutality were just
false political propaganda (of which there was enough
> to bolster my ignorance), I thought maybe there was an example. I didn't
> realize it was neither "quick" nor a "fix". Interestingly, after they became
> our ally in
WW-2 because our enemy had become their enemy (after Hitler
> stupidly broke his
non-aggression pact with them and attacked them) we
> were exposed for a few years to a different kind of propaganda praising the
> glorious
Red Army's resistance to the Nazi onslaught. But soon after the
> end of the
war, that image (even more distorted than the 'evil' one) was
> replaced by
McCarthyism and racist groups stirring up a new wave of fear
> and hatred. My liking of the old Russian writers and Russian music also helped
> bias me in favor of the Russian people, and I was reluctant to believe that they
> could have been stupid enough to
just replace one bad system with a worse one.
> So I can't attribute it to just stupidity - - there's clever social manipulation
> which I don't think this country (nor most of the world) understands well
> enough to avoid. I don't know the source, but a true saying, "
If a man is
> not a communist when he's twenty, he has no heart; if he's still
> a communist at thirty, he has no brains.

   You've seen a lot of action in your day. You touch on an important point - social manipulation - which certainly exists through the medium of ads, which teach us to consume ever more and more. The important thing for business is to sell, sell, sell. But, by so doing, unnecessarily long hours of labor are perpetuated, so my solution is to boycott and conserve, forcing consumers and business people alike to come to grips with the existing overproduction. Finally figuring out that the extra unnecessary work often goes to pure waste will help motivate labor time reductions.

>> Thinking one's way out of a truly pessimistic and depressing world view may
>> not be easy, but it's worth doing for the peace of mind that can result.
> I fear you may have approached an
extreme in that direction, but I agree
> it's probably better than the opposite extreme. I'm glad you enlarged
> on your views. I'm less dismissive of them than at first.
> Ben

   That's what dialogue is for. Thank you for inquiring further. We should try to work out some details of the evolution of the next 30 years or so. Because of the {upcoming} explosion of productivity in this time span, Kurzweil claims that it's impossible to argue with any certainty about the fate of anything beyond 2029. I respect his research, for I don't have any better of my own in that area. For more on Kurzweil, start with his testimony to a Congressional Committee:

   Now to work on the reply to Cam ...



   Dear Editor,

   While hyping work sharing with a correspondent, I thought of an idea for a bumper sticker, if it isn't too long of a sentence:

   "Today's workers: Smart enough to create labor-displacing technology, but not smart enough to share the remaining work?"

   Does this hit the nail on the head, or not?



   Fred G. quoted an old saying:

> If a man is not a communist when he's twenty,
> he has no heart; if he's still a communist
> at thirty, he has no brains.

   The morpho site has a bunch of quotes, one of which is:

   "Any man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger fool."
   - George Bernard Shaw

   Elise's web site repeats the GBS quote exactly like morpho.



   camben wrote:

> Okay, I'm not going to respond to each point here as I originally intended,
> but I think I'll restate what I think you are saying here. I have read your
addendum as well, and I think I understand your arguments a little better.
> I don't believe there is a quick fix. The phrase "
bringing down the system"
> suggests
violent revolution. We know from much precedent that this kind
> of
sudden drastic change results in widespread hardship. There are so
> many examples of what happens, that I think we all know several.
> We live in a society which is as
free to the majority of the population
> as any that has ever existed.

   So far, so good.

> Regarding technology, I think the point you are making is that eventually
> machines will replace every facet of the workplace
- which is implausible
> to me, but not impossible. There will eventually be a state in which
> human being will have to subject themselves to a job.
Because no one will
> be working,
we will have to eliminate money, as no one will be earning it.
> This will create an environment of
equality because there will be no money
> to create wealth. The current class system is based on wealth, therefore,
there won't be classes. Because technology is far advanced, we will be
> able to feed everyone, shelter everyone,
(perhaps terraforming and
> relocating local planets to increase living space).
There will be
> no shortage of resources for everyone, and people will set to
> the business of caring for each other and themselves on an
> emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental level.

   Not bad!

> There are a lot of problems with this, though. The first thing is the
> transition phase. A lot can happen. What will happen when automation
> has replaced,
say 1/3 of the working world, and they can't find jobs?
> Will we
just share?

   Sharing the vanishing work will prevent unemployment from rising. "Imagine being smart enough to build technology to displace labor, and yet being too stupid to share what little work that remains." Hey! That looks like a good idea for a bumper sticker! I actually sent that sentence off to the organizers of "Take Back Your Time Day", which is scheduled for this Oct. 24.

> Do you think the guy who sweeps floors wants to or is able
> to
manage a very technical job?

   The premise for this situation is a RAPID change in the tech job market, which I can't foresee. Tech training gets ramped up or down {gradually}, depending on the market for techies.

> The first jobs to be eliminated will be the most physically demanding
> and least intellectually challenging. Although I believe nearly everyone
> is capable of a very high level of thinking, I don't believe everyone knows
> how, or is willing to train themselves to think like a technician, engineer
> or scientist.
This will present an enourmous problem when the only jobs
> out there require a high degree of technical skill.

   Changes will occur gradually enough to prevent this problem from arising.

> Let's say that the workweek is reduced by legislation, so everyone can
> work
. And we integrate all of the 1/3 of the population that can't find work
> because their jobs have been automated. We now all work 2/3 the
hours we
> used to. Do we make
less money? Why should we suffer because those guys
> were dumb enough to sweep floors for a living - I could tell a long time
> ago those jobs would be eliminated.

   The average work week is only a third of what it was a century ago, but do people suffer because of the missing work hours? Not a bit. Our standard of living is MUCH higher, because productivity increases much faster than hours of labor decline. Productivity is rising at a double exponential rate, according to respected inventor Ray Kurzweil. Check out his testimony to a Congressional Committee:

> Even if people were willing to accept less money, they wouldn't like
> it,
governments wouldn't like it, it would mean that all of the people are
> working and they are stuck with the same amount of money that they had
> before.
Corporations wouldn't like it because people would have to spend
> less money on their products.
That means they'd have to scale back
> expenditure.
Which would probably mean putting more people out of work.

   Except for the last sentence, those changes would be likely ONLY if the work week were to be suddenly decimated, but decimation of work hours would be moving unnecessarily fast. The work week will probably be reduced fast enough to keep unemployment from getting out of hand, but no faster. Productivity, innovation, and standards of living will not suffer.

> So, eventually, let's say everything works out, and people, corporations and
governments don't do anything to stave off attrition. After an unprecedented
> period of economic
deflation, everyone is satisfied with less. Money has
just changed value. An item which was $1 is now just 66 cents. The
status quo remains, but the common folk now have an extra day
> and a half
which they can spend as they wish.

   People are so used to getting 'more and more' as a function of time, they probably wouldn't want to adopt a scenario involving austerity plans. Austerity ruled in the past, but increasing affluence rules today. Historically, reducing hours is perfectly compatible with increasing standards of living, as the work week went from 60 hours in 1870 to an average of 33.7 hours today (which includes the modern rise of part time labor). Due to the acceleration of productivity, gradually reducing hours does not translate into austerity.

> This is all conceivable, but the problem is there would be huge resistance to
> the eventual elimination of money.
How would you value things? Why would
> anyone produce a
Playstation if they couldn't make money off it?

   In workless society, tangibles will have no exchange value. Economists have long recognized that 'HUMAN labor creates new wealth and property.' The basis of any economy is the materialization of useful things through human effort, and people don't ordinarily expend energy in a working environment in exchange for nothing. But, what if 'the machines move of themselves'? Without human effort expended in production, useful things will lose their exchange value and will be free for the taking, so no exchange of 'cash for merchandise' will be necessary. Thereby made redundant, money will also go the way of the spinning wheel.

> What about land? How would we decide who lived where,
> and how big an area they got? Not only that,
> would control the resources

   People are mobile, move around a lot, and will continue to do so after labor is abolished. Land ownership is a quite separate issue, and doesn't present as dynamic a problem as today's rapid replacement of human labor by machines. How inequalities in land ownership will be worked out may be up to future generations to decide. Stopping the population explosion would ease the need to develop raw land; automated machinery and nanotech will restore the proper functioning of existing land and buildings, so demand for new land will probably collapse. Preserving open land would be wonderful, and I'm sure that a lot of people feel the same way. A minority of rich developers might differ, but their influence will soon end.

> Resources are not infinite, neither is land. These will still be prized.
> Even if you
eliminate money you will have people that seek control of
> land and resources. Ultimately, that is what represents wealth and power.

   In a workless world, in which necessities are free, why would people seek control of resources or land? Survival will certainly not depend upon individual or minority control of land or resources, and such attempts will be popularly condemned. 'Hal' might even be programmed to prevent exclusionary policies or attitudes from being enforced. 'This land is your land, this land is my land' ... Woody's song might come true. Just the way some primitive cultures don't have words for 'mine' or 'yours', 'possession' as a social institution will probably be abandoned. {As far as 'resources' go, a recent article about nanotech indicates future use of no more scarce resources than 'sunlight and dirt' to create everything desired, so resources will not be hoarded like scarcities.}

> Unless we declare all lands and resources public,
> these will still be used to
control the masses. So, while
most will live in a 300 square foot apartment, there will
> still be some who live in a 30,000 square foot mansion.
> Why? Because they feel like they deserve it, and
> damned if someone else is going to get it.

   For now, avarice and selfishness are very well tolerated, and may even be encouraged in some circles. Selfishness is endemic to the age of scarcity. Hoarded wealth ensured survival in the old days, and old successful social devices die hard. For as long as economy and scarcity exist, avarice retains justification, but it will go the way of the spinning wheel when the connection between human effort and survival ends. No one can be expected to behave like an angel until then. After that, who knows how differences in control of land will be resolved? Land ownership is pretty static compared to the dynamic replacement of human labor with machines, so land issues need not stand in the way of labor winning control of the labor market.

> So, how will the distribution of wealth be allotted,
> will it be hereditary? Will people begin
plotting political
> alliances to
gain more land? Marrying off their children
> in order to
better their position? Perhaps people will
> marry so they can get a home nearer the oceanfront.

   Necessities will be free, but if everyone is going to demand a 100 acre ranch for themselves, then fighting might materialize over that. But, insinuating the selfishness and avarice of the present paradigm upon the new paradigm can lead to unfounded fears. Between now and the future, awareness is bound to develop of the need to share the vanishing work. The old avarice and selfishness will fall into disrepute, and will be replaced by the knowledge that they served their purpose in the bad old days of evolution out of scarcity, but have become obsolete. Sharing will be essential to the new paradigm, but our training in the next few decades will ensure that sharing becomes second nature.

> Or maybe we will all be in the Matrix, and blissfully unaware.
> My ideal culture would be a small group (say 1000 or so) people
> living in a place like say, Maui, where food is plentiful, the climate
> is beautiful, and you can fill your days with play, ritual and superstition.
> Imagine how people must have wondered at things in primitive times.
> Having said that, I tend to be a
realist. I know there was also war.
> I'm sure if I investigated the history of the Hawaiian people
> I'd find many aspects of their society undesirable.

   Future generations will have it much easier. We and our ancestors struggled with a lot of hardship, war, and evil, so that future generations won't have to. Maybe future generations will show their appreciation for our efforts by choosing to live at peace with the universe. On the other hand, 'Hal' may not give them any choice EXCEPT to live in peace. But, peace shouldn't be TOO unbearable.

> So, for me, my idealism lies with the lost primitive cultures. Not
> the civilizations, but the small communities that lived and worked
> together. Despite the hardships those people faced, I think they felt
community and they felt meaning in their lives, and were reverent
> towards nature
. I suspect that some were more brutal than others,
> but I like my imaginary Hawaiian version.

   Primitive cultures had a lot going for them. It's where everything began.

> So that was terribly long-winded and my mind wandered a lot while I wrote
> it. I haven't gotten much done at work today, but there's enough padding
> in the budget for several days of R&R.
> So, I don't know if it makes any sense now, but I'm delerious. And I'm
> taking tomorrow off (it's just beautiful here in Vancouver), to spend
> the weekend in Merritt at the
government campsite at Monck Lake
> with my girlfriend and her two boys. Have a good weekend.

   A lot about the future cannot be known, and quite a few people are of the opinion that nothing can be ascertained for the years past 2029.

   If something here doesn't seem quite right, then maybe some details can be hammered out to our mutual satisfaction. Thanks for the very thoughtful response.



   McD1st wrote:

>>> McD: I think the main excuse they threw me off the SPGB list was that
>>> I sent on all I did to the
LA list but the SPGBers are relative deadheads
>>> so it was not worthwhile if I could not put my
posts also where they
>>> could get criticised effectively.
>> KE: I no longer worry much about participating there. Chatter about
>> religion is no better than counting the angels on the head of a pin.
> McD: I think Robin Cox is right on that & I did go further than him in
> my own
posts on the topic when it came up a few years ago. After all,
> no
science would keep people out on the basis that religion is claptrap
> that they want to indulge in for reasons best known to themselves, if
> known at all. It is simply not germane to anything.
> It shows up the
SPGB as a religion as it shows them competing with the
> religions as rivals to them. This ensures they remain a small sect as
> Robin says.


> But then, given the aim of free access, Marxism is also excess baggage!
> But the
eca shows that free access is a futile aim in any case.

   I used to know what eca stood for, but forgot in the meantime.

>> KE: If existing governments allow freedom of religion, then that
freedom is a done deal. No one will vote for a party intent on
repressing religion once it gets into power.
> McD: Right.
> I was too dull to realise how daft the
SPGB was on religion in my time
> as a member, though I did favour a
Unitarian Minister, Duncan McGuffie,
> remaining in when a few fools wanted to expel him.
> However, I was happy to go along with the
rules as they stood for the
> most part as & enjoyed attacking religion.

   It's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, especially with the latest Catholic child abuse cases as targets.

>> KE: I just got kicked off a Green list - Green Alliance USA - a couple
>> of days ago, and no appeals were effective in reinstating me. That makes
>> about the fifth time I've been expelled from one
forum or another, and
>> for what? I always try to get to the heart of the issue of the day. I
>> wrote to one respected
Green correspondent:
> McD: I have been thinking of going on a
Green list.

   Give it a shot. You might have a little fun.

>> KE "Revolutionaries offer less freedom of speech than the very governments
>> they are pledged to
overthrow, which can't help but discredit them."
>>> Great quote!
> McD: Yes, & it ought to be right but it could be that most do not care
> enough about
free speech for it to be actually right.

   Socialists are certainly apathetic about free speech, which is why the man on the street will never have anything to do with hyper-radical solutions.



   McD1st wrote:

>>> DRS: If you pass a law limiting hours of work, ...
>> KE: Such
laws are already well known in every civilized country,
>> so need only to be
made stricter by amendment.
> McD: Even the
Bible knows that we should not follow a multitude to do evil.

   Equating legislation with evil seems rather anarchistic. Many laws have been introduced over the years to protect workers, which the marketplace, by itself, doesn't seem willing to do. No one is rushing to protect and nurture the v portion of capital that bosses would just as soon replace with c robotics.

>> KE: Ambitious people ought to be free to work themselves into riches,
>> or even work themselves to death, if so inclined. But, those who want a
>> slot in the
legal economy ought to be able to get that as well, otherwise
>> we'd have an economy for the ambitious, and for few others.
> McD: But
unemployment is not owing to workers who are in jobs
working long hours. Why do you think it is?

   There's only so much work that bosses are willing to pay for. That 'lump of work' can just as easily be accomplished by a few workers over-indulging, or by everyone who would like to participate, but for fewer hours per worker.

   Some workers getting most of the work, with others getting too little, is not a very equitable arrangement. Governments that endorse and encourage individual work hogging are really to blame. Governments know better, but the threat of international competition forces them to cater to profit considerations. If the unemployed are to be blamed for their lack of work, then the sick ought to be blamed for their diseases and illnesses.

>>> McD: How was that in the working class interests?
>> KE: I thought we agreed that '
the USA doesn't have a working class',
>> so therefore
it can't have working class interests.
> McD: That is
my thesis but I did not notice that you had fully agreed.

   I think now we can all agree that there is no CLASS struggle in the USA.

>> KE: But, not to dodge the issue: when it comes to rights, the right of
>> everyone to a piece of the economy ought to be higher than the
right to
>> over-indulge, and, in so doing, rob others of opportunities to thrive.
> McD: But the work to be done is infinite not limited in some way &
> they is no reason to think that
shorter hours will affect unemployment
> or that
it is in any way even germane. Why do you think it is?
> If you truly want to
cut unemployment then you will need to think
> about cutting that which
maintains it like unemployment pay.

   Unemployment pay doesn't cause unemployment. An interesting article in a recent Wall Street Journal notes that the trouble with the recovery from this latest recession is that 'for the first time, productivity is growing faster than new jobs.' It's called a 'downside of productivity'. For a synopsis, visit the first story dated 5/29 at:

   Here's a synopsis of that synopsis:

   "Instead of expanding employment, companies are continuing to shed jobs at a furious pace - 525,000 nonfarm payroll positions in the past 3 months alone. ... Since March 2001, when the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 2.1 million jobs. ... In short, the U.S. is experiencing the most protracted job-market downturn since the Great Depression. ... Worker productivity has been growing faster than the overall economy. ... Productivity growth means that companies are squeezing more output from existing workers. Over the long run, most economists agree productivity growth is good for workers, because it tends to lead to higher wages."

   This is the beginning of the end of the 40 hour week, because workers are becoming increasingly redundant, and increasing demand can be met by the same old workers, and even some of the same old workers can be dumped back on the already glutted labor market. So, where is this 'infinity of work'? Maybe THERE IS 'an infinite amount of work to be done', but what if nobody is willing to HIRE anybody TO DO all of that work? Isn't that the nub of the problem with 'infinite work'?

   Why shorten the length of the work week? Because it works wonders. France's unemployment rate went from double digits down to single digits after imposing a 35 hour week.

>>> DRS: According to Marx, "constant capital" (capital) cannot
>>> create new value.
>> KE: I never said
constant capital 'creates new value'.
It TRANSFERS its value.
> McD: DRS was not suggesting that
you erred & Marx did not,
> but that
Marx erred.

   So, does DRS think that 'constant capital creates new value'? Apparently so:

>>> DRS: That's why he calls it constant capital. Only "variable capital"
>>> (
labor) can create new value, in Marx's theory. That's why he calls
>>> it
variable capital.
>> KE: True. In a review of Marx's
Capital, Engels wrote (me20.285):
>> "
The portion invested in labour-power does change its value; it produces:
>> 1) its own value, and 2) surplus-value - it is variable capital.
>>> DRS: Thus, in c + v + s, s is always entirely produced by v and never
>>> in the slightest degree by
c. This is the distinctive feature of Marx's
>>> theory of
price. According to him, c merely passes on its value to the
>>> product, while
v both passes on its value and adds new value, which
>> is
>> KE: That's the way I remember it as well. But, you've often denied the
>> existence of
surplus value, so why teach it?
> McD: He was
not teaching it but looking at a clear error in it
> that is
most clearly there.

   Is Marx's 'error' in denying that c creates new value? c may someday create new value when necessities of life can be gotten FOR FREE, and humans create nothing but surplus value (as an interim to an even further-in-the-future COMPLETE abolition of human labor).

>>> DRS: Thus, in Marx's account, if the owner of c gets any of s, this is
>>> robbed from the owner of
v. This is why Marx calls it "loot", "swag",
>>> "
robbery", "exploitation", etc. He also calls it "unpaid labor". It
>>> is unpaid
, in his view, because the owner of c has not contributed
>>> to the production of
s, which is entirely due to v.
>> KE: Modern writers like to exaggerate in order to whip outraged activists
>> into revolutionary fervor. Marx barely equated
surplus value extraction
>> (or
exploitation) with 'robbery'. Engels even wrote (me25.151): "The
>> whole process can be explained by purely economic causes; at no point
>> whatever are robbery, force, the state or political interference
>> of any kind necessary.
> McD: There was this effort to
dodge moralising & they did tend to say
> that
capitalism was just on its own terms but objectively they held
all to come from labour & that is the point here.

   True, M+E did regard v as creating all new value. I'm curious about this alleged 'effort to dodge moralising'. Has much been written about M+E dodging moralising?

> I always interpreted the moralising as propaganda that was extra to
> the "scientific analysis but last year few
SPGBers agreed & Vincent
> Otter thought it
clearly false. Even DRS thought my position to be far
> fetched
but he admitted that it was a possible if odd interpretation.
> I rather thought he had also held it! And that it was the
SPGB case.
> It just goes to show that it is not always clear when you agree.
> But that
all comes from labour is clearly held by Marx.

   True, that does flow from the labor theory of value.

>> KE: Exploitation of labor is purely civil, done by contract, while robbery
>> is criminal, with duress imposed on the victim. If workers would like to be
robbed, they'd go to their ATM machines at midnight. Marx often described
wages as an exchange of equivalent for equivalent, but insinuated 'robbery'
>> only once, in
Capital (me35.581):
>> "
Though the latter with a portion of that tribute purchases the additional
>> labour power even at its full price, so that equivalent is exchanged for
>> equivalent, yet the transaction is for all that only the old dodge of every
>> conqueror who buys commodities from the conquered with the money
>> he has robbed them of.
>> Marx did identify
surplus value with 'loot' a handful of times, as well as
>> '
booty'. 'Swag' was never used. Variations of 'exploitation' must have been
>> preferred, for that term shows up over 1600 times.
> McD: I recall
swag being used quite often.

   Variations of 'swagger' occur 26 times, but 'swag' definitely does not occur in the CD of the Collected Works, which has a powerful search function for individual words, or for combinations of words occurring in paragraphs. If early translations used 'swag', that older usage is no longer official.

>>> DRS: In neoclassical price theory, which I accept as true, capital
>>> equipment makes a contribution to the
value of output, along with labor.
>>> Furthermore,
in a free market, the owner of each factor tends to get paid
>>> the amount of that contribution.
All this was sorted out by Philip Henry
>>> Wicksteed and John Bates Clark at the end of the nineteenth century.
>>> There is
no surplus value. Surplus value is a demonstrable error.
>> KE: In that case, how is profit created?
> McD: There is profit & interest. Profit is from entrepreneurship out of
> guessing what the public will prefer & losses by failing in that quest.
> But interest is paid for the use of savings that are held to earn
> independently of
labour. Marxists tend to fuse the two but the
> former tends to be zero sum whilst the later is positive sum.

   The way it's described here, it looks like FINALLY, labor is no longer needed to create profit and interest! What a boon to the bottom line! It's a wonder all workers haven't been laid off yet. In opposition, Engels wrote in a review of Capital (me20.250):

   ... "the capital invested in machinery, raw material, coal, etc., does indeed re-appear in the value of the product pro tanto, it is maintained and reproduced, but no surplus-value can proceed from it. This induces Mr. Marx to propose a new subdivision of capital into constant capital, that which is merely reproduced - the portion invested in machinery, raw materials and all other accessories to labour; - and variable capital, that which is not only reproduced, but is, at the same time, the direct source of surplus-value - that portion which is invested in the purchase of labour-power, in wages. From this it is clear, that however necessary constant capital may be to the production of surplus-value, yet it does not directly contribute to it; and, moreover, the amount of constant capital invested in any trade has not the slightest influence upon the amount of surplus-value produced in that trade."

>>>>> McD: Marx held that all value came from living labour.
>>>> KE: True enough.
>>> DRS: Exactly. He called capital ("
constant capital") "dead labor",
>>> and claimed it was
unable to make a contribution to the production
>> of new value
>> KE: That's true.
> McD: Well, that
conflicts with your idea that Marx did not deny that
capital made an input.

   Capital DOES create new value, but ONLY the VARIABLE portion of capital. c never does more than pass along its old value to new products.

>> KE: Marx wrote in Capital (me35.205): "By turning his money into
>> commodities that serve as the material elements of a new product, and
>> as factors in the labour process, by incorporating living labour with their
>> dead substance, the capitalist at the same time converts value, i.e., past,
>> materialised, and dead labour into capital, into value big with value, a
>> live monster that is fruitful and multiplies.
" (me34.397): "This power
>> of preserving value and creating new value is therefore capital's power,
>> and the process appears as one of capital's self-valorisation, while
>> the worker who creates the value - value alien to him - is on
>> the contrary impoverished.
>> '
Impoverished'? If Marx could have foreseen how today's average workers live,
>> he would have lowered his expectations of
violent proletarian revolution.
> McD: He would be forced to give up
nearly all he held if he had to face
> the books of today.

   Much of his revolutionary politics have been proven obsolete by the flow of history, but his theory of surplus value quite nicely explains capitalism, and it also quite nicely complements liberation capitalism.

>>> DRS: ... most people are both workers and capitalists. They get returns on
>>> savings as well as payment for
labor services. For example, most workers
>>> have retirement funds, which may be invested in the stock exchange, giving
>>> them a return for their retirement. On a
Marxian analysis, this is surplus
>>> value
exploited from workers, including themselves.
>> KE:
Workers exploit themselves? How do you explain that?
> McD: The
marginal analysis claims there is no exploitation but that
we do get the full amount that we earn.

   First it was stated that 'workers exploit themselves', but now "there is no exploitation", so the latter cancels out the former. There couldn't possibly be an inconsistency between those two statements, could there?

>> KE: It takes time for new technologies to become a positive asset. Though
>> in existence since
WW2, computers (as we know them) never provided a
net savings of labor until 1995. Up until then, more effort was expended
>> in developing them than what they saved by easing
repetitive labor tasks.
>> So, they've only been a net plus for 8 years. That positive net may be in
>> its infancy, but its positive worth is
rising at an exponential rate, and
>> the
exponential rate itself is rising exponentially. Productivity will
>> soon take off like a rocket, and
human physical labor soon
>> become totally redundant.
> McD: Work due to be done is infinite but machines can
only do a finite
> amount of it
no matter how efficient they are & they boost all wages rates
> by this extra output thus making the
marginal wage more viable thus boosting
full employment. The Luddites erred & Ken seems to fall for the same error.

   Perhaps the Wall Street Journal is also falling into the same 'error' with their 5/29 announcement that "Worker productivity has been growing faster than the overall economy." Galloping productivity explains why demand for new products and services can be met by the same old workers, even while dumping some of those same old workers back onto the already glutted labor market. Official unemployment rose from 4% to 6% in 3 years. Work may be infinite, but someone has to be willing to pay to get it done, which no one seems to be willing to do in sufficient quantity.

> Progress does cause short run frictional unemployment but it aids
overall employment owing to its positive effect on the marginal wage.
> The automated economy of superabundance where machines replace the
> slaves in how Marx imagined the slaves to be in Greece of old is owing
> to his lack of
marginal analysis of the actual effect of progress.

   Maybe so, but don't forget the words of the WSJ: "Instead of expanding employment, companies are continuing to shed jobs at a furious pace - 525,000 nonfarm payroll positions in the past 3 months alone. ... Since March 2001, when the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 2.1 million jobs. ... In short, the U.S. is experiencing the most protracted job-market downturn since the Great Depression. ... Worker productivity has been growing faster than the overall economy."

   What should Republicans do about rising unemployment? With productivity rising faster than the overall economy, it may be time for a DIFFERENT policy to address this NEW situation.

>>>> KE: Marx speculated that the abolition of necessary labor would also
>>>> result in the
abolition of surplus labor (and value). Speed the day
>>>> when the machines create all of the food, clothing, and shelter
>>>> anyone could ever need, and for free.
>>> DRS: Well, are you saying
this is going to happen within 27 years?
>>> McD: It will
never arrive. Progress opens up new lines of production.
>> KE: Well, yes, I do expect it to happen, due entirely to the
>> exponential acceleration of progress
. Human intelligence will soon be
>> outclassed by machine intelligence. Networked intelligence several
>> magnitudes greater than
human is awesome to contemplate.
> McD: Maybe, but it will just be a drop in the ocean. It is no more likely to
> avoid being absorbed than was the progress the pristine
Luddites opposed.

   Like you say, work may be infinite, but is anyone rushing to pay for all of that work to get done? Not enough employers seem to be rushing to do so.

>>> DRS: Legislating down the working day will merely force workers to
>>> have fewer goods
(lower real wages) than they would like. We see
>>> today that
quite a number of workers choose to hold two jobs.
> McD: Yes & I suppose Ken thinks
that keeps other workers out but
it does no such thing! Ken seems to get unemployment as wrong as
> he gets the likely effects of progress.

   If so, then why do East German IGMetal workers clamor for a 35 hour week? Their West German IGMetal brethren enjoy it. Millions of workers are clamoring, or have clamored, for a shorter work week to ease unemployment. It's a very real part of labor history, and will continue until the abolition of labor altogether.

>> KE: Historically, reduced work hours have been perfectly compatible
>> with
higher standards of living, all due to increased productivity,
>> an often neglected
> McD:
Not higher than if they had worked longer hours.

   Don't forget that REALLY long hours cause inefficiency due to fatigue. Plus, accidents are more likely. Aside from that, the purpose of an economy is to serve EVERYONE, not just the few who are lucky enough to find long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams. Sick economies exclude too many people.

> Ken seems to merely be saying that we might work less & still
get more owing to progress. That is right & it is the reason why
> they get more off the
dole in the UK today than they got in full
> time work
in the 1950s but DRS means they have to get less
> than they would if they were allowed to work longer hours.

   Some people might be 'lucky' enough to get long-hour jobs, which often means great prosperity for them. But, rising unemployment suggests that a lot of other people are going to have to content themselves with hardship, because too few people are willing to pay for the infinitude of work that needs to be done.

>> KE: A higher standard of living, in spite of reduced work time, is the
>> 20th century experience, is it not? Any reason why the
trend cannot
>> continue, even with a social DETERMINATION to
reduce labor time?
> McD: People prefer yet more for more work.

   What if no one is willing to pay anyone to do the much-needed work, and what if bosses prefer to develop new technologies that can run 24/7 in harsh environments without asking for wages, time off for doctor's appointments, time off for funerals and family emergencies, pregnancy leave, etc.? The world of work is evolving out of wage-slavery and into freedom. Policies need adjustment to help people share what little work bosses are willing to pay humans to do.

>> KE: At year 2000 rates, Kurzweil estimates that the 20th century
>> experienced 20 years worth of progress.
At the same (year 2000) rate
>> of progress
, Kurzweil estimates that the 21st century will experience
>> 20,000 years of progress, all due to a double exponential accelerating
>> rate of progress.
> McD: A drop in the ocean!

   If that "drop in the ocean" refers to the infinitude of work to be done, then here's hoping a way to pay people to do all of that work can be found. Instead of figuring out ways to pay people to work, bosses are figuring out better ways to DUMP obsolete human labor as quickly as possible. Replacement of labor is progressive, and needs to be encouraged. At the same time, social policies need adjustment to prevent hardship.

>> KE: What is the statistical trend of the growth or decline of self-employment?
>> One American
study says: "The fraction of working men who are self-employed
>> hovered between 14 and 15 percent throughout much of the 1980s. The self-
>> employment rate, however, declined somewhat in the 1990s, to about
>> 13 percent by 1997.
" Not very promising.
> McD: It is a
possibility & it was one in Marx's day. It is not a
> prediction or a hope but put to get Ken to see that
Marx got it
> wrong.
For all to be thus selfemployed would not upset the market
> or the
price system at all but it would not be capitalism in his
arbitrary outlook. It indicates the unreality of surplus value.

   Self-employment might prove Marx wrong IF a growing portion of labor moved in that direction. But, seeing as self-employment is stagnant and plays only a minor role, then surpluses, surplus value and wage labor will remain facts of life.

>>> DRS: Forcing people, against their wills, to work shorter hours for lower
>>> real incomes
does not seem to be an improvement. Working hours will
>>> continue to fall slowly over the long term, as real wages per hour
>>> continue to rise.
>> KE:
Work hours should be shortened to provide more participation in the
>> economy
. Otherwise, we get an immoral world more dedicated to enriching
>> the greedy than
ensuring an equal chance for everyone. People must not be
>> prevented from getting a piece of the pie. Work-hogging makes no sense
>> where a smaller proportion of workers than ever creates necessities of
>> life.
> McD:
Shorter hours would have no affect on unemployment.
> Why does Ken think
it would?

   Scholar Ben Hunnicutt says that, during the Great Depression, half of all American work places voluntarily adopted shorter work weeks in order to avoid mass layoffs. Liberation capitalist Kellogg instituted a six hour day in his cereal plant that wasn't fully phased out until the late 1980's. The shorter work day and week mechanisms have been integral parts of labor history for 2 centuries. Robert Owen practiced it, and his workers loved it.

>>> McD: Each innovation raises the marginal wage & so opens up many
>>> more jobs
without the need for any legislation or shorter hours.
>> KE: It won't be that way for much longer.
> McD: It will
always be like that, Ken. You underestimate the work due
> to be done. It is infinite. Progress has
no chance of having the effect you
> expect as it is bound to be finite & thus like a mere drop in the ocean.

   Surely the work is infinite, I'm agreeing more and more with that statement, especially as I contemplate the work to be done around the house. But, here comes a little glitch: the infinitude of work needs to find sponsors to pay for the infinitude of work to get done, but potential sponsors seem far more willing to spend their money on technology to REPLACE human labor, not to set existing labor in motion employing the same old tools. Investment in NEW tools is 'in', while human labor and old tools are 'out'.

>> KE: Capitalism truly is doomed, will be gone in a relative blink
>> of an eye, and nothing can be done to save it, thank the goddess
>> of
accelerating innovations.
> McD: In the
surplus value sense, capitalism never was!

   What dooms capitalism is the reluctance of capital to sponsor v, and instead use as many resources as possible to develop c. There comes a point where v will disappear. Without v, no s. Without v nor s, no relationship between c and v, so no advantage to owning c. It's all rather mathematical, and the curves of the relative increases and decreases of s and v are revealing:

 O                                                                                          s
 u                                                                                        s  
 t                                                                                      s    
 p                                                                                  s        
 u                                                                              s            
 t                                                                          s                
 |                                                                    s                      
 |                                                              s                            
 |                                                        s                                  
 |                                                s                                          
 |                                        s                                                  
 |                                s                        v                v                  
 |                      s              v                                                v      
 |            s            v                                                                v  
 |  s          v                                                                              v
 |  v                                                                                        
 |  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  t  i m  e
   As time proceeds, necessary labor v heads for the cellar, while surplus value s heads for the sky.

>>> DRS: Nothing like the 1930s depression is likely to happen again,
>>> for several reasons. One is that it is unlikely ever again to be
>>> the case that a single country, with a single set of
>>> policies
, will be such a large proportion of the world economy.
>> KE: '
America sneezes, and the rest of the world catches cold'
>> was the old saw.
> McD: Soon China will be a bigger economy. And soon there will be
> something that makes the
IT progress look small but still no Luddite
> effect!!! Yet this seems to be Ken's
howler! When will he see the
> assumption that the
work due is infinite as factual?

   Work truly is infinite, especially when I consider the amount of work that conceivably could be done around everyone's houses. Send money, and maybe some of it will get done. If no money is available, then maybe we'll have to wait for the hordes of nanobots to eat all the dirt, cleanse our clothes, repaint homes, etc. Anything that approximates drudgery, nanobots will soon be doing better than humans. Speed their arrival so that the incessant nagging of my nearest and dearest to 'Do dis! Do dat!' will cease.

>> Marx may have been wrong about 'the proletariat rising and liberating' in
>> a fire and sword revolution
, but was right about overproduction causing
>> crises
. Linking those two phenomena certainly isn't rocket science.
> McD: It is not Physics, but it is
not good economics either.

   The notion of overproduction seems to contradict 'the infinitude of work to be done', but, without any paying customers, unemployment can certainly result from reluctance to engage labor. The crisis of a lack of paying customers can then be mistaken for a crisis of overproduction. Maybe that's how to best characterize depressions: a 'dearth of paying customers', rather than a 'crisis of overproduction'. Either way, reluctance to hire leads to unemployment and aggravated social tensions.

>> KE: Do you know why revolutionaries love to mystify the cause of
depressions? If the cause of depression remains hidden, revolutionaries can
>> proudly boast: '
Capitalism breeds depression, so only replacing capitalism
>> with socialism can put an end to depression.
' But, if over-production is
>> rightfully named as the cause of
depression, then the answer to depression
>> is as plain as can be, and nothing is left but to
work less! Revolutionaries
>> in bitter competition with
liberation capitalism therefore can't help but
>> want to mystify the cause of
depression. Many years ago, when you were
>> in league with
socialist revolutionaries, you probably learned how to
>> mystify the cause of
depressions very well. Now that you are older
>> and wiser, isn't it time you stopped mystifying?
> McD: It is
clear that it is not owing to overproduction but
> it is
not clear why markets fail ever to clear.

   Ah, so, will the cause of depressions forever remain unknown? And, in the meantime, does it help your cause, whatever it might be, to argue against labor time reductions and the resulting liberation of labor?

> McD: Is there a social solution?

   Legislated solutions are social solutions, because legislation applies to millions of workplaces, affecting them equally and fairly.

>>> DRS: Many people in the low paid jobs are not capable of doing high
>>> paid work, but their incomes are higher than they would otherwise be
>>> because of the contributions of the high paid workers and the investors.
>> KE: It's
true that the march of technology has lifted nearly all boats,
>> but a mass of people don't have meaningful access to the economy, so
fuller participation remains an essential humane objective.
> McD: But we all have access to the wares, even those on the

   But, access is inequitable, as all of the campaigns against 'hunger in America' testify. Maybe the U.K. dole is more equitable, if the Iron Maiden didn't have her way 100%.



   McD1st wrote:

>> KE: Political interests (democracy, universal suffrage, freedoms of
>> speech and assembly
, etc.) may be the same, but economic interests are
>> opposite. Bosses want to maximize
surplus value by overworking a few,
>> while workers benefit most when work is
shared equitably.
> DRS: The fact that losses to investors often coincide in time with
> reductions in wages and that gains to investors often coincide with
rising wages surely suggests that there may be a common interest.

   Who's included in those earnings statistics? The lowest to the highest paid? If the uppermost CEOs are included, then precisely what you describe could happen. But, if the million-dollar-salaried CEOs are excluded from that computation, then just the opposite might be observed, and a reduction in wages for lower level employees could translate into gains for CEOs and investors.

> Certainly it doesn't suggest the opposite. Workers want real wages
> to rise, and real wages generally do rise when business is good.
> And business is good most of the time.
> Investors want to maximize the return on their savings, and this
> of course involves not paying workers so much that it eats up all the
> income of enterprises leaving nothing for the investors. That is clear
> enough. But this simply indicates bargaining on the terms under which
> co-operation between investors and workers takes place. Suppose that
> you and your neighbor think of some activity which will benefit both
> of you, say, planting a row of blossoming shrubs along the border
> between your gardens and the street. Suppose also that you want to
> buy the shrubs and not take part in the
labor of planting them, while
> your neighbor is willing to plant them but not willing to pay money
> to purchase them. In that case, the two of you may haggle over the
> precise terms, but you both have an over-riding common interest
> in getting those shrubs and having them planted. This is essentially
> the
truth about co-operation between workers and capitalists.
> Furthermore, most workers are also capitalists and most capitalists
> are also workers. As a worker you want a higher wage, but as someone
> saving for your retirement, you don't want your savings put into
> stocks that show a negative return, so you don't want the employees
> in the firms which issue those stocks to overpay their employees.

   Can't argue against that.

>> KE: A big American labor party would be a sign of class
>> struggle
, but we don't have much of either in the USA.
> DRS: It might be a sign of a perceived
class struggle, but not of a
> real
class struggle. A white power party might be a sign of a perceived
> racial struggle, but
not of a real racial struggle. A Catholic or Born
> Again
party might be a sign of a perceived religious-denominational
> struggle, but not of a real struggle (I mean a struggle representing
> a real conflict of interests).
> There can be
no struggle between capitalists in general and workers
> in general; this just makes no sense, any more than a struggle between
> women in general and men in general. To be a worker is to co-operate
> with capitalists. To be a capitalist is to co-operate with workers.
> All history is the history of
class co-operation.

   It's true that workers and bosses often cooperate, but that fact shouldn't be used as perfect proof of a lack of struggle. Ludlow miners certainly had interests in common with the mine owners, but the owners sicced the guard on the miners, and many were killed. See:

   "On the morning of April 20, 1914, Colorado National Guard troops opened fire on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow. The miners were striking against the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. The shooting continued through the day and evening. The tents the miners lived in were set afire. When the smoke cleared, 18 to 20 people were found dead, including two women and 11 children. Most had suffocated when the tents collapsed during the fire."

   That was as good a sign of struggle as any event I can think of. Marx wrote lots about cooperation. Here's an interesting paragraph (me30.261):

   ... "The capitalist buys not one but many individual labour capacities at the same time, but he buys them all as isolated commodities, belonging to isolated, mutually independent commodity owners. Once they enter into the labour process, they are already incorporated into capital, and their own cooperation is therefore not a relation into which they put themselves; it is the capitalist who puts them into it. Nor is it a relation which belongs to them; instead, they now belong to it, and the relation itself appears as a relation of capital to them. It is not their reciprocal association, but rather a unity which rules over them, and of which the vehicle and director is capital itself. Their own association in labour - cooperation - is in fact a power alien to them; it is the power of capital which confronts the isolated workers. In so far as they have a relation to the capitalist as independent persons, as sellers, it is the relation of isolated, mutually independent workers, who stand in a relation to the capitalist but not to each other. Where they do stand in a relation to each other as functioning labour capacities, they are incorporated into capital, and this relation therefore confronts them as a relation of capital, not as their own relation."

>> KE: This Reuters article shows that American workers are putting in
>> fewer hours and work less overtime as a result of the current recession.

>> Are Americans voluntarily '
choosing' this reduced work load? See:
>> ? type%5C=reutersEdge&storyID=2677262
> McD: No, they will not be
choosing an outcome that the recession places
> on them but that is
not to say that they do not choose the hours when
> there is no
recession. In fact it suggests they do.
> DRS: Even in
recession, choice is involved. Most workers, when they make
> a decision to take or not take a particular job, to work or not work
> etc. decide that certain options are not worth the trouble to them. If there is
> a
recession, the opportunities available get worse, on average, but there are
> still
plenty of opportunities out there. These are just not so lucrative, on
> average. At any one time there are people deciding to moonlight, and do two
> jobs, for example, often because of some change in personal circumstances.
> These decisions are still made during
recessions: on any day in a recession,
> a number of workers in the US are moving from one job to two jobs. Of course,
> this happens to a lesser extent in a
recession than in a boom, because the
> available array of job possibilities is less attractive. Similarly, if wages
> fall, more workers will choose to go on
welfare. It doesn't mean that there
> aren't jobs
; there are always jobs; it means that the jobs available pay
> less, so
welfare becomes comparatively more attractive.

   On this side of the pond, it's not as simple a choice between working and welfare. Workers have little choice but to work until bosses lay them off. If workers quit voluntarily, they become ineligible for unemployment compensation (unless special circumstances force quitting). Getting on welfare would then require evidencing nearly zero assets. It is difficult to quit a job just for the hell of it, because what matters to the government is to keep people seeking jobs, which makes desperate workers more willing to accept low wages, which translates into higher profits and a friendly market for foreign investors.

>> KE: What often are initially defined as 'luxuries for the few'
>> eventually become '
necessities for all' as mass production
>> enables prices to fall.
> McD: Quite right!
> DRS: Yes, but "
necessities for all" is metaphorical. They are not really
> necessary. They are just things people have gotten used to. Most people
> in the US have gotten used to hot running water and flush toilets, but
> these things were available to no one on Earth 200 years ago.


>>>> KE: Marx generally equated surplus value (and surplus labor (the same
>>>> thing)) with all kinds of evil, such as
alienation and exploitation.
>>> DRS: Marx did
not do this. Surplus value in Marx's view is a matter
>>> of
unpaid labor.
>> KE: True,
surplus value and surplus labor is unpaid labor, but:
>> me28.382 "
All the moments of surplus capital are the product of alien
>> labour - alien surplus labour converted into capital
" ...
> DRS: Yes. Saying that
A is the product of B is not equating A and B.

   The brief sampling of quotes represented but a small percentage of a true MASS of material linking surplus value with alienation. Look at it this way: Necessities are what the workers take home in the form of wages, while workers alienate surplus product and give it to the capitalist free of charge. The online Merriam Webster dictionary defines 'alienate': "2: to convey or transfer (as property or a right) usually by a specific act rather than the due course of law" ...

   That's a good description of giving away surplus product in exchange for the dubious pleasure of working for nothing.

>> me28.397 ... "the fact that surplus labour is posited as surplus value
>> of capital means that the worker does not appropriate the product of his
>> own labour; that it appears to him as alien property; and, conversely,
>> that alien labour appears as the property of capital.
> DRS: Yes. In this context "
means that" means "shows that we can infer
> that
". It does not here mean "is equivalent to".

   The product of labor is increasingly alienated as productivity rises with time. Workers take home less of what they produce than ever before, even though standards of living have improved. The rate of surplus value will reach infinity when robots produce and distribute necessities without human intervention. Necessities will then be free, and all employment will be for the purpose of creating non-necessities, until employment ends for good.

>> me34.201 ... "the content of labour is alien to the worker himself" ...
> DRS: An understandable gripe about life in this wicked world, but saying
> nothing about
exploitation/surplus value.


>> me34.231 "The more labour objectifies itself, the greater becomes the
>> objective world of values which confronts it as alien - as alien property.
> DRS: Yes, saying that
A is proportionate to B (rises or falls with B)
> does not say that
A equates to B.


>> me34.306 "For what is important for capital is the production of surplus
>> value, the appropriation of alien surplus labour in whatever shape - the
>> shape being of course determined by the wants of the market.
> DRS: Yes, this doesn't equate
exploitation with alienation, though it does
> indicate
they are connected (in Marx's opinion).

   Here's an even closer identification (me28.386):

   ... "the right of property on the side of capital is dialectically transformed into the right to an alien product or into the right of property in alien labour, the right to appropriate alien labour without equivalent;"

   Because surplus labor is appropriated without equivalent, alienated labor and surplus labor are identical.

>>> DRS: There is no surplus value. Workers get the value of what they
>>> produce and capitalists get the
value of what they produce.
>> KE: Without
surplus value, there can be no profit. And yet, the news is
>> full of reports of corporate profits, and
taxes on profits. More mass
>> delusion?
> DRS: The existence of profits is not delusion. The theory that
> are necessarily the fruits of
exploitation is a deluded theory. Ken is
like the believer in witchcraft who asks "Are you saying that the
> existence of old women who keep cats is a delusion?

   My arguments may be feeble, but I always try to address the issues, and never fail to be persuaded when better arguments contradict mine.

   "Surplus value" can be mystifying, so maybe it needs de-mystification. Back when ancestors lived in trees, and took from nature with little more effort than 'reaching and grabbing', surplus must have been a pretty vague notion.

   Agriculture brought real surpluses into existence, which became bones of contention to fight over, which the institutions of private property, the state, and inheritance helped mediate. Surplus produce is the precondition for those institutions. Marx's theory of surplus value cannot be denied without simultaneously denying that 'surplus is produced under capitalism.' No one would say that 'feudal serfs did NOT give part of their surplus to feudal lords' in order to spite surplus produced under feudalism, so I wonder what would be the objection to the notion of 'capitalists acquiring surplus produce'.

>>> DRS: If you save and invest your earnings, you make a contribution
>>> to output. Why shouldn't you be paid for that? Marx
denies that the
>>> capitalist makes a contribution to the
value of output, but this is a
>>> mistake.
>> KE: '
Marx denies that capitalists contribute to the value of output'?
>> Marx himself said that the
INDUSTRIAL capitalist contributes:
>> me37.632 "
The capitalist still performs an active function in
>> the development of this surplus value and surplus product. But
>> the landowner need only appropriate the growing share in the
>> surplus product and the surplus value, without having
>> contributed anything to this growth.
> DRS: Yes. But Marx holds that this active function tends to dwindle
> away in capitalism, leaving the capitalist with
no function.

   Marx certainly noted the rise of the professional managerial class, but he never claimed that 'the capitalist has no function.' If he did, then evidence of such denial eluded my search for it. Marx shouldn't be confused with modern radicals who distort reality, hoping that naïve revolutionaries will smash the state and expropriate the capitalist class, and then install revolutionaries as new leaders. Those days are over.

> We can distinguish between a pure capitalist, say a widow who draws an
> income every month from a mutual fund, the fruit of her husband's lifetime
> of work and saving, and an entrepreneur, like Bill Gates, who actively
> makes decisions in industry, decisions which will result in losses for
> him if they turn out to be wrong. Marx says that the former type, the
> capitalist who just has the dividends on owned stocks paid into her bank
> account, makes
no contribution to the value of output, whereas the Bill
> Gates type does make some contribution (though of course, Marx and I
> agree that a major part of Gates's actual income can be identified
> analytically as the same sort as the other case).
> My point is that the retired widow does make a contribution to the
> of output. She owns her savings, given to her by her husband (who saved
> them out of the wages he got from selling his
labor for 30 years). If
> the husband had blown all his wages on whores and crack parties,
> the current output of industry would be
lower than it is.

   If the drunkard rendered essential services to society, then wouldn't someone else take over from where he left off? Output is not affected for the worse by the irresponsibility of one drunkard; if a market for a product or service is healthy, then someone else will step in to meet the demand.

> The widow's holding of stocks in a mutual fund corresponds
> to a portion of the capital equipment owned by numerous firms.
> That capital equipment increases the
value of output, and the
> widow is paid an amount corresponding to that
value. She is a
> pure capitalist, the kind whom Marx
says makes no
> contribution to output at all. Marx is

   Neither Marx nor Engels ever placed a variation of the word 'contribute' in the same paragraph with a variation of 'output'. Perhaps an alternative way of Marx saying what you thought he said could be suggested, and then I could search for that.

>> me31.539 "The capitalist is the direct exploiter of the workers, not only
>> the direct appropriator, but the direct creator of surplus labour. But
>> since (for the industrial capitalist) this can only take place through
>> and in the process of production, he is himself a functionary of this
>> production, its director. The landlord, on the other hand, has a claim -
>> through landed property (to absolute rent) and because of the physical
>> differences of the various types of land (differential rent) - which
>> enables him to pocket a part of this surplus labour or surplus value,
>> to whose direction and creation he contributes nothing.
> DRS: My point is that the completely absentee owner, the rentier or "
> clipper
", makes a contribution to output, and that is what she is paid for.
> She gets interest, the contribution made to output by her savings.

   OK, that's fine, no argument. I would never cast aspersion upon individuals finding themselves in possession of wealth, but which they have little intent to manage themselves. It simply isn't a moral issue for me.

>>>> KE: Marx's theory of SURPLUS value is quite different from his theory of
>>>> the
value of a commodity, because surplus value is all about the DIVISION
>>>> of the product of
labor between worker and boss. Surplus value is all
>>>> about'who gets what', and not at all about 'how is commodity
>>>> determined'.
>>> DRS: No, Marx's
surplus value is part of his theory of the determination
>>> of the
prices of commodities. It is one theory.
>> KE: If
no different, then why two different names? We are given: 'Value of
>> a commodity
' vs. 'surplus value'. Would you then say that 'The sun and moon
>> both illuminate the earth, so the sun and moon are the
same thing.'(?)
> DRS: I
haven't argued like that. I haven't said that because they have
> something in common they must be the same.

> My point is this. The
labor theory of value is an attempt to account
> for the determination of
prices in capitalism.

   What's so compelling about 'price'? The labor theory of value says that the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labor embodied therein. That theory says nothing about price. Neither does surplus value.

> This theory is arrived at in reasonably finished form in
Vol III, where Marx "explains" that values are transformed
> by competition into prices of production.

   That can definitely be corroborated:

   me31.435 ... "competition transforms values into cost prices, i.e., creates permanent deviations from values" ...

> This transformation is (Marx says) effected by taking
> all the
surplus value in society and redistributing
> it among firms
("capitals") in proportion to their
> capital investment, i.e. their
c + v.

   That too can be corroborated:

   me37.747 "Prices of production arise from an equalisation of the values of commodities. After replacing the respective capital values used up in the various spheres of production, this distributes the entire surplus value, not in proportion to the amount produced in the individual spheres of production and thus incorporated in their commodities, but in proportion to the magnitude of advanced capitals. Only in this manner do average profit and price of production arise, whose characteristic element the former is. It is the perpetual tendency of capitals to bring about through competition this equalisation in the distribution of surplus value produced by the total capital, and to overcome all obstacles to this equalisation."

> Marx's description of this transformation presupposes surplus value
> (
s), and presupposes that s is produced only by v and not in the least
> by
c. Therefore, Marx's complete theory of price determination
> requires his theory of
surplus value.

   Marx's alleged 'complete theory of price determination' is news to me, but I learn something new every day. Pricing is ancillary to the theories of value and surplus value, which were Marx's main enchiladas. Here's a couple of perspectives on price vis-a-vis value:

   me28.75 "Price, therefore, differs from value, not only as the nominal differs from the real; not only by its denomination in gold and silver; but also in that the latter appears as the law of the movements to which the former is subject. But they are always distinct and never coincide, or only quite fortuitously and exceptionally. The price of commodities always stands above or below their value, and the value of commodities itself exists only in the ups and downs of commodity prices. Demand and supply continually determine the prices of commodities; they never coincide or do so only accidentally; but the costs of production determine for their part the fluctuations of demand and supply."

   me37.192 ... "price, in its general meaning, is but value in the form of money."

   A search of hundreds of records reveals that Marx didn't elevate price to a greater importance than value, nor vice-versa.

> But for the theory of surplus value,
> there would be no need for the transformation,
> since
s would be produced by c + v in co-operation.

   Why transform value into price in the first place? Give an example of its alleged usefulness to the public, to economists, to politicians, etc.

   Secondly, the alleged "need" to transform value into price appears to have been blamed on the theory of surplus value, for some unexplained reason.

> In fact, Marx does not hold that actual prices are determined
> by
labor-hours expended on those commodities.

   That's quite true, because supply and demand, and perhaps other factors, prevent prices from corresponding exactly to values.

> He rejects the view that commodities exchange
> in proportion to the socially necessary
> labor required to produce them.

   Marx never rejected that cornerstone of his economics:

   me35.86 ... "in the midst of all the accidental and ever fluctuating exchange relations between the products, the labour time socially necessary for their production forcibly asserts itself like an overriding law of Nature."

> He points out that this could not possibly be true, and does not even
> show any tendency to be
true (because of different organic compositions
> of capital
, as he puts it, meaning different capital-labor ratios).
> However, Marx does hold that
prices cannot be explained without
> amounts of socially-necessary labor-time
, by way of the
transformation described in Vol. III.

   First you wrote "Marx does not hold that actual prices are determined by labor-hours expended on those commodities", and then you wrote "Marx does hold that prices cannot be explained without amounts of socially-necessary labor-time". How is the seeming contradiction between those two statements to be explained? Marx wrote in Volume 3:

   me37.139 "The value of every commodity - thus also of the commodities making up the capital - is determined not by the necessary labour time contained in it, but by the social labour time required for its reproduction."

   me37.745 "The relation of the price of production of a commodity to its value is determined solely by the ratio of the variable part of the capital with which the commodity is produced to its constant part, or by the organic composition of the capital producing it. If the composition of the capital in a given sphere of production is lower than that of the average social capital, i.e., if its variable portion, which is used for wages, is larger in its relation to the constant portion, used for the material conditions of labour, than is the case in the average social capital, then the value of its product must lie above the price of production. In other words, because such capital employs more living labour, it produces more surplus value, and therefore more profit, assuming equal exploitation of labour, than an equally large aliquot portion of the social average capital. The value of its product, therefore, is above the price of production, since this price of production is equal to capital replacement plus average profit, and the average profit is lower than the profit produced in this commodity. The surplus value produced by the average social capital is less than the surplus value produced by a capital of this lower composition. The opposite is the case when the capital invested in a certain sphere of production is of a higher composition than the social average capital. The value of commodities produced by it lies below their price of production, which is generally the case with products of the most developed industries."

   So, there you have some subtle distinctions, but value is never divorced from social labor time.

> This theory is mistaken. It introduces the completely unobservable
> mechanism of "
transformation", instead of just accepting that the
rate of return on capital is proportionate to the whole capital
> invested (
c + v), and not merely to v.

   There are 2 different rates of return on capital investment, with two different names - rate of profit, and rate of surplus value. The rate of profit is s over (c + v), while the rate of surplus value (or exploitation) is s over v. The rate of surplus value is increasing at a double exponential rate, while the rate of profit sort of hums along {because galloping s is dragged down by equally galloping c}.

   me32.51 ... "if the length of the working day is given, the value of the annual product of the labour of 1 million [men] will differ greatly according to the different amount of constant capital that enters into the product; and that, despite the growing productivity of labour, it will be greater where the constant capital forms a large part of the total capital, than under social conditions where it forms a relatively small part of the total capital. With the advance in the productivity of social labour, accompanied as it is by the growth of constant capital, a relatively ever increasing part of the annual product of labour will, therefore, fall to the share of capital as such, and thus property in the form of capital (apart from REVENUE) will be constantly increasing and proportionately that part of value which the individual worker and even the working class creates, will be steadily decreasing, [XII-661] compared with the product of their past labour that confronts them as capital. The alienation and the antagonism between labour capacity and the objective conditions of labour which have become independent in the form of capital, thereby grow continuously. (Not taking into account the variable capital, i.e. that part of the product of the annual labour which is required for the reproduction of the working class; even these means of subsistence, however, confront them as capital.)"

> It is no wonder that having got as far as he did, Marx gave up
all work on the book, and lived a life of idleness, for years just
pocketing the checks Engels mailed him.

   The final decade of Marx-Engels correspondence testifies to Marx's increasing bouts with ill health. Often his doctors absolutely forbade him to do a lick of work, and he went from one European health spa to another in search of a cure, even venturing down to Morocco for a few months, though the weather there was unlike anything they'd experienced in living memory, and Marx returned in worse shape than when he left. This explains why the works he authored after the Paris Commune were rare and sketchy; few other than his Marginal Notes on the Gotha Program and his Notes on Bakunin's Statehood and Anarchy are memorable. Engels, on the other hand, was much more productive, producing major works like Anti-Duhring, 'Origin of the Family, State, and Private Property', and lots of published articles. Plus, beginning in the 1880's, Engels spent a great deal of time assembling volumes 2 and 3 of Capital out of the many extant manuscripts.

> There is no satisfactory way to complete
> his theoretical system, and we can surmise
> that
he probably realized this.

   If Marx's theories would be misinterpreted, then granted the impossibility of making heads or tails of the resulting mess. Engels would not have spent the last dozen years of his life trying to put Marx's works together if they didn't make very good sense.

>> KE: The labor theory of value is: The value of a commodity is determined
>> by the amount of socially necessary labor time embodied therein.
> DRS: That is merely a definition of Marx's usage of the term "
> To become a theory, this notion
has to be related to something going
> on in the world, such as the
determination of prices.

   Determine prices? Capitalists certainly didn't need Marx's help, nor anyone else's, to determine what to charge customers. Plus, there surely would be an awful lot less 'theorizing' if 'theories HAVE to be related to what's going on in the world'.

>>> DRS: The worker gets the whole value of his contribution. The capitalist
>>> gets the whole
value of her contribution.
>> KE: What about the earlier example of my own experience as an auto
>> mechanic? The shop rate was $22.50, my wage was $7.50, and the
>> value
was $15.00. If I supposedly got the whole value of my contribution,
>> then my wage would have been the rate the boss charged the customer -
>> $22.50. But, I never got that much. Or, did I forget, and should I go
>> back and check my pay stubs?
> DRS: As Ken is aware, the boss had expenses like rent, heating, lighting,
> stationery, phone bills, and so forth.

   The relationship between the $7.50, $15.00, and $22.50 stood out from the rest of the numbers by being crisp, clear, and well defined. Not so easily determined, except by going back to 1977-9 and counting up ALL of the bills and receipts, is the relation between the profit on the parts I installed vs. the costs of heating, lighting, stationery, phones, uniforms, insurances, etc. Having grown up in the auto repair trade, and being a bit more familiar with it than the average bear, I like to think, off the top, that the ancillary expenses were balanced by the profit on the parts I installed, and need not interfere with the main enchilada - the $7.50, $15.00, and $22.50. Failure to regard the $15.00 as fairly representative of surplus value or profit is blockading my attempts to prove the existence of surplus value. Do objective observers also agree that 'surplus value doesn't exist'?

> Actually, if Ken did go back to check, he'd very likely find that
> the garage had
gone out of business through not being able to make
> a profit (would he then
feel obliged to make a donation, so as
> not to be in the position of
exploiting his former boss?).

   Last I checked a couple of years ago, the shop was still booming. The bosses' son had entered the business, even though the son had attended nearby prestigious Stanford U., and probably could easily have found remunerative employment in nearby Silicon Valley.

> Assuming this was a well-run shop, where the owner got a sizeable return,
> I would analyze that return into three components: 1. the implicit wage for
> any
labor, including administrative, supervisory, and managerial labor,
> expended by the boss; 2. interest return on savings, presumably the
> owner's savings or perhaps other people's if the garage was funded
> by a bank loan; 3. profits to entrepreneurship (which are just
> as likely to be negative as positive).

   My boss never appeared to be struggling financially, as he lived in a million dollar house and drove a new Mercedes 300 SEL. Neither did his brother, who owned a speedometer repair shop a couple of blocks away. My boss used to amuse me by occasionally crying out loud, "But, I'm just a poor immigrant!" He did have a strong 'ferrin' accent, plus a healthy sense of humor.

>>>> KE: It's a perfectly legal and civil relationship, of course, but it
>>>> does explain a lot about society's '
race to the bottom'. People have
>>>> to do SOMETHING to resist the
race to the bottom, so what do they do?
>>>> What's YOUR solution?
>>> DRS: Given the fact that
capitalism increases real incomes for the
>>> whole population
, why is this a race to the bottom?
>> I didn't invent the '
race to the bottom' phrase. See:
> DRS: This is about sweatshops in the third world. People are willing to
> work for very low wages in the poorest parts of the third world because
> they are very poor. Capitalism did not make them very poor. Capitalism is
> now investing in production employing some of these very poor workers at
> very low wage rates. This is the
greatest rescue mission in history. If these
> wage rates were artificially raised, the amount of
employment offered in
> these very poor parts of the world would fall. The investment in third
> world sweatshops is a step forward for the people there; they are in better
> shape than they would be if such sweatshops were not available. Opening
> these sweatshops raises incomes in the third world. That is the reason why
average real incomes in poor countries keep rising. To stop or hinder the
> opening of such sweatshops would retard economic progress in the poorest
> countries, and keep the people there in the worst
poverty. Capital always
> tends to flow to where
labor is cheapest, and this is good because it offers
> most work to those most in need of it. The net outcome of all this is that
real incomes are rising in the world as a whole, and in the great majority
> of the poor countries, as well as in the rich countries.
Investment in third
> world sweatshops does not cause incomes in the advanced world to fall to the
> level of the third world: the fact is that
real incomes are rising (over any
> reasonably lengthy period, such as a decade)
in both rich countries and poor
> countries.
The main buyers of the goods produced by third world sweatshops
> are first world workers. Other jobs are developed in the first world
> because certain kinds of manufacturing are done at low wages in the third
> world. Third world sweatshops cannot bid down first world wages to third
> world levels, because workers in the first world are equipped with vastly
> more capital, which raises their productivity. So the general
trend is for
capital investment per worker to increase in the third world, raising the
> workers' incomes there.

   No problem with {most of} that.

>> KE: You would have to argue with the New York Times over their claim
>> that '
wages are going down for the whole spectrum of workers.' I didn't
>> write the
> DRS: Well, there is the
fact that incomes have been falling across the board
> in the last couple of years in the US
, an aspect of the recession. There is
> also the
fact that "wages" narrowly defined (not including fringe benefits
> like
health insurance, for instance) have fallen in the US over a somewhat
> longer period.
But there is no denying that average real incomes (median as
> well as mean) have grown in the long term at quite a considerable average
> annual rate.
So if you look at any ten-year period from the point of view
> of an average or low-paid US person,
things have markedly improved.
> There is no reason why this should not continue indefinitely, as long
> as the
government doesn't do anything to wreck it.

   If a government would like to be re-elected, they'd better not mess with the status quo. I'm sure they won't.



   Two messages were received in reply to one of mine, so the 2 were combined into one:

   McD1st wrote:

>> KE: ... can bosses form an interest group?
> McD: My point was not that
workers cannot form sectional interest groups but
> that
there never was an objective proletarian class economic interest as such
> that Marx had it & nor is there a capitalist class objective interest as such.

   Yes, we've already agreed that there are no working class interests in the USA, where no labor party of significance exists. The complementary element of 'no common capitalist class interest' is fine. In fact it proves a point. Many revolutionaries mistakenly believe that 'capitalists want to perpetuate wage slavery, and will impose the most vicious class rule toward that end', while I say that 'the profit motive will drive capitalists to innovate themselves out of business completely. They have little choice but to help abolish the very system that elevated them to temporary grandeur.'

> DRS: Right. Trade unions may well represent interest groups, but
> the interest in question is not the entire working
class, and could
> never be such. A
trade union is a small section of the working
class, organized primarily in opposition to the rest of the
> working
class. It cannot be otherwise with unions.

   'Trade unions are organized in opposition to the rest of the working CLASS'? But, we just agreed that there is no working class, therefore no working class to organize against. But, this is an older message, so this little contradiction can be dispensed with for the time being.

   If trade unions represent interest groups, then it is obvious that they are organized for their own benefit, and are not opposed to anyone except to their immediate employers.

> If a union is successful in pushing up wages for its members,
> it thereby
reduces the number of jobs available in that line
> of industry, and
reduces wages in other lines of work.

   Well, that seems mostly true, {Awk! How could I have said such a thing?} but the resulting rise in unemployment from the higher wages {Awk again!} would only apply more pressure for the vanishing work to be shared more equitably, so high wages are to be welcomed for the social progress that will eventually result.

   One thing I'm not clear about is why 'higher wages in one line of work would reduce wages in other lines.'

>> KE: How about Chambers of Commerce, or the NAM - Nat'l Ass'n of Mfg'rs?
>> If
bosses can form an interest group, then it would be classist to think
>> that workers
> DRS: My guess is that what
chambers of commerce do is only partly lobbying
> for particular measures. A lot of what they do is provide services for their
> members:
statistics and common reference lists, for instance. However,
> insofar as
chambers of commerce do take up specific policy measures, you'll
> find that many members oppose the
stand they have taken. Thus if you look at
> any
major policy measures affecting business: whether Britain should stay
> in the EU, and if so, how the EU should evolve
, you will find business owners
> are divided, not united, on such issues, just as workers are divided on them.
> But even if you do find something close to
unanimity in such organizations,
> it doesn't mean that there is a common interest. Such organizations are just
> as influenced by fads and spasms of madness as anyone else. Thus, I can
> remember in the 1960s when the
CBI was advocating national economic
> planning
. This was just foolish twaddle, and you'll notice that no one
> advocates this now. But at that time it was all the rage, and business
> owners probably felt that if there was going to be
national economic
> planning
, it would be as well to advocate it, and thus affect the type
> of
planning so that it might not be injurious. The same today
> with
environmental idiocy.

   Still, bosses benefit in the short term when as few workers as possible work for as many hours as possible, while workers benefit most when as many as possible share what little work is offered. It wouldn't hurt either side to organize around their respective interests. Old Adam Smith believed in the invisible hand guiding the economy to a just result when people follow their own interests. In the era of 'plenty of work', workers haven't had to organize to share work very much, but that era is quickly coming to an end.

> A few years ago a lot of business groups were pushing for various
> measures anent "
Y2K". This was an even more short-lived and silly
> fad. I actually had a few weeks where I had read something about
> it, and began to be concerned (a key step in disabusing myself
> of this nonsense was learning that the whole catastrophic threat
> didn't apply at all to
Macs, which have a four-digit year system).
> All kinds of business organizations (and it wouldn't surprise me
> to find
chambers of commerce) were getting worked up about
> this almost entirely imaginary catastrophe.

   That's true, and the more radical the group, the more dire were their forecasts. Eating crow was probably quite distasteful for them.

> Just as some workers in unions may imagine that unions are in the
> interests of all workers
, and this quasi-religious doctrine may even
> become predominant, it cannot alter the
fact that one union must be
opposing the rest of the workers. Similarly with business groups.

   'One union opposing the rest of the workers' ... Plus, 'similarly with business groups' ... Please flesh this out a little more.

>>>> KE: Plus, during the American Depression of the 1930s, Labor
>>>> backed the
Black-Connery 30 Hour Bill, which had so much support
>>>> that it even passed the
Senate before being scuttled in the House
>>>> on behalf of business interests.
>>>> So,
Labor can defend and pursue both its political and economic
>>>> interests.
> DRS:
Reducing working hours by legislation is clearly against the interests
> of those workers who want to work
longer hours and have more money.

   Oh, I see, THOSE interests. It's clearer now. Reluctance to reduce hours must be based on promoting 'the infinitude of work to be done'. Consistent therewith is the theory that 'jobs would abound if long hours for low wages were accepted'. Interesting theory. But, in contradiction to the theory of 'low wages resulting in more employment', the press recently reported 'falling wages with rising unemployment', which doesn't support your theory. As noted in the WSJ, 'the downside to rising productivity' is that 'demand can be met by the same old workforce, even while shedding existing workers.' Longer hours and lower wages might have brought about the desired results in an earlier era, perhaps 250 years ago, but competition sets today's workers in competition with one another, which inevitably leads to 'the race to the bottom'.

   Liberation capitalism aims to convert 'competition between workers for scarce jobs' into 'competition between bosses for scarce labor', by creating an artificial scarcity of labor. Engels wrote in 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' (me4.376): ... "this competition of the workers among themselves is the worst side of the present state of things in its effect upon the worker, the sharpest weapon against the proletariat in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Hence the effort of the workers to nullify this competition by associations, hence the hatred of the bourgeoisie towards these associations, and its triumph in every defeat which befalls them."

   me4.507 "If the competition of the workers among themselves is destroyed, if all determine not to be further exploited by the bourgeoisie, the rule of property is at an end."

   In that early work (1845), Engels was very sensible. Too bad his good sense was abandoned while supporting Marx's power and property path to socialism.

>> KE: A 'working class' may not exist here, but it is in the majority
>> interest to fit as many workers as possible into the
legal economy.
>> The
AFL had workers' interests at heart when it backed the Black-
>> Connery Bill
. Its passage would have slashed the 25%
>> unemployment rate
of 1933.
> McD: I tend to doubt if it could have been so functional in 1933,

   Half the workplaces voluntarily adopted reduced work schedules to spread the remaining work around. The Black-Connery Bill would have brought all bosses into line with the more generous ones.

> but my major thesis here you seem to accept. It was not an
> example of what Marx claimed.

   What is meant by your 'major thesis', or 'example of what Marx claimed', is not as obvious to me as perhaps it should have been.

>>> McD: Marx held that all value came from living labour.
>> KE: Adam Smith said
it first, and others agreed before Marx put in his
>> 2 cents. Engels wrote in his Marx bio (me24.194): "
Ever since political
>> economy had put forward the proposition that labour is the source of all
>> wealth and of all value, the question became inevitable: How is this then
>> to be reconciled with the fact that the wage labourer does not receive the
>> whole sum of value created by his labour but has to surrender a part of
>> it to the capitalist?
" Engels then went on to explain surplus value.
> McD: Marx could see that what he called
classical economics was dead
> by the 1870s & his pet hate the
vulgar economists effectively put
Occam's Razor to the sort of theory Marx had sided with since the
> 1830s in the
marginal revolution.

   'Dead' is correct. In 1884, Engels advised Georg Vollmar (me47.184): "No science is so botched today as economics, and this at every university in the world. Not only is there no one anywhere who expounds the old classical economics along the lines of Ricardo and his school; it would actually be difficult to find any one who expounded common-or-garden free trade, i.e. so-called Manchesterism a la Bastiat, in unadulterated form. In England and America, as in France and Germany, the pressure of the proletarian movement caused bourgeois economists, almost without exception, to acquire an armchair-socialist cum philanthropic complexion, while an uncritical, benevolent eclecticism is everywhere in evidence - a soft, elastic, gelatinous substance that can be compressed into any desired shape and, for that very reason, exudes an excellent nutrient fluid for the culture of careerists just as does real gelatine for the culture of bacteria."

>> KE: Hours should be reduced, but only enough to provide greater
>> participation
in the economy. Reductions beyond the point of providing
FULL participation would reduce total output and wages, so this device
>> would probably not be used to the detriment of production.
> McD: Workers could get back to work without
cutting the hours
> of those in work.

   Does that mean that, 'by accepting lower wages, workers would be more likely to be hired to do the infinitude of work'?

>> KE: Part of the surplus goes to civic projects like roads, bridges,
>> dams, wind farms, as well as
military adventures, expensive luxuries,
>> advertisements, research, etc., a lot of stuff which the average
>> worker may never directly consume.
> McD: Well, we do all make use of most of that.

   That's true, but the growing size of these public works proves that surplus value and surpluses are growing as well.

>>>> KE: Tech evolution translates into increasing rates of exploitation
>>>> (which is the same thing as
increasing rates of surplus value).
>>> McD: Yes, both
surplus value & exploitation, in Marx's sense,
are in the same area of the null set.
>> KE: If so, then I don't see why so many
governments representing so
>> many billions of people would want to take his
teachings to heart.
> McD: How far do they?

   Communist leaders tried to abolish class differences by expropriating private property, but everyone was thereby rendered equally poor.

> Marxists in the west were way more earnest than in
> the late USSR. Is any other
state keener?

   Modern dishonest communist leaders use Marx's theories of surplus value and exploitation as little better than excuses to rally gullible workers to violently replace bourgeois states with expropriatory communist states. The trouble with that ahistorical program is that Marx never advocated smashing democracies, because nothing better than democracies with universal suffrage could be imagined. As Engels stated before the General Council of the First International, "Before our ideas could be carried into practice we must have the republic." A socially controlled democratic republic at that, and not a BOURGEOIS republic with property ownership prerequisites for voting.

> Anyway, ruling politicians are hardly better
> at gauging the
truth than others, are they?

   Not that I know of.

>> KE: Naturally, mistakes do get made, and the 'power and property'
>> path to socialism was a mistake, but
Marxism surely attracted a
>> lot of attention at one time.
> McD: Never in main line economics. Most was in sociology & to a
> lesser extent in philosophy.

   Agreed. Plus, the power and property path is so antagonistic to social progress that modern advocates can't bear to fully describe that path for fear of simultaneously exposing its weak points. 'Speech is silver, but silence is golden.'

> DRS: And among intellectuals who might become revolutionaries. Before
> Marx it was Comte. Comte's ideas were a sort of
prototype of Marxism,
> and were influential in the
Mexican revolution, for instance.

   'Prototype'? That's giving Comtism more respect than M+E allotted (me22.498): "If the workmen have outgrown the time of Socialist Sectarianism, it ought not be forgotten that they have never been in the leading strings of Comtism. This sect has never afforded the International but a branch of about half a dozen of men, and whose programme was rejected by the General Council. Comte is known to the Parisian workmen as the prophet in politics of Imperialism (of personal Dictatorship), of capitalist rule in political economy, of hierarchy in all spheres of human action, even in the sphere of science, and as the author of a new catechism with a new pope and new saints in place of the old ones."

>> KE: Human labor predominates because machines are still not very
>> good at thinking for themselves, but that will soon change. Then
>> say goodbye to
human labor, and goodbye to capitalism.
> McD: You
underestimate the work to be done, Ken. Machines can only
> increase the
value of the marginal wage by greater output & thereby
> make ever
more lines of work viable. They replace some workers in
> the short run but stimulate
more viable jobs in the long run.

   An infinitude of work certainly needs to be done, but people don't seem to be willing to pay humans as much as they're willing to invest in high tech. A family member recently revealed the difficulties of finding steady help in administering the geriatric nursing facility he manages, and what horror stories. The help is either sick or in some kind of transition, and it's been nearly a complete nightmare to try to get anything done. Human labor needs replacement so as to become as idle and carefree as it wants. Or, are people so desperate to enrich the rich that they will someday put an end to progress so as to ensure permanent enslavement to masters? What perverse inner need would be satisfied by giving up the chance to progress further?

>>>> KE: Marx speculated that the abolition of necessary labor would also
>>>> result in the abolition of
surplus labor (and value). Speed the day
>>>> when the machines create all of the food, clothing, and shelter
>>>> anyone could ever need, and for free.
>>> McD: It will never arrive. Progress opens up new lines of production.
>> KE: '
New lines of production' is certainly true, which shows that surplus
>> value
is growing. Did you ever notice the reduction in agrilabor? In the
>> USA
200 years ago, 80% of the population worked the land, while today
>> it's only 2%
, and that tendency continues.
> McD: Yes. J. L. Simon points it out in his books.

   Very good.

>> KE: Clothes are produced faster and cheaper than ever. A new factory
>> loads in cloth at one end, while finished clothes come out the other
>> end, with only
maintenance people in between. Ever notice how
>> quickly buildings and dwellings rise? And so on.
> McD: Yes. And the result is that
we are all richer in real terms.
> Is that not so?

   Yes, it is so.

> DRS: This extra output goes into extra income for everyone. It is why
we are all so immensely better off than our parents and grandparents.
> It does not dispense with the need for work, since we all want

   'We all want more work'? Such ambition! Too bad I never was that ambitious, hardly wanted to work at all, and as a result didn't amass a small fortune like some of my old friends.

> It does lead to a very slow and gradual reduction in
> working hours
over the long term, simply because
> people choose some of the gains in
extra leisure,
> as well as some in
more wages.

   Yes, slow evolution seems to be the rule for the economy. Slow evolution out of the muck and mire of wage slavery. Rather than hire human labor, bosses seem more and more willing to employ new technologies.

>> KE: ... where do profits come from? Buying cheap and selling dear?
> McD:
They come from entrepreneurship viz. from market innovation in guessing
> with the public will buy better than rivals & losses from failure in this quest.
> That
labour has anything to do with it is very far fetched.

   When bosses finally figure that out, then it's bye-bye human labor forever. I had no idea human labor was so superfluous to entrepreneurship and market innovation, entities that 'no doubt' run by themselves, or are driven exclusively by capitalists.

>> KE: The way tech evolution accelerates, capitalism has
>> less than 30 years to go.
> McD: This sort of thought was far better when made in the eighteenth
> century but the 200 years now stands as a counter example to it. The
> amount of work to be done is infinite & machines can only do a
bit of
> it,
no matter how super they become, & ditto increased population.
> There is no end of work due: ever! Read J.L. Simon.

   Again, who will pay human labor do the infinitude of work, when bosses have all of the incentives (and means) to replace expensive, unreliable, ugly, smelly, and cranky human labor? Plus, for the first time in history, productivity is growing faster than the economy, enabling the same old workers to keep up with product demand, while at the same time shedding old workers. Did J.L. Simon foresee this development?

>> KE: Kurzweil explains why 'intuitive linear' predictions of the future
>> are so often wrong. Without embracing the concept of
accelerating progress,
>> it's easy to think that
tomorrow will be just the same as today, except maybe
one more new gadget will appear on the market. That may be the way a few
>> more tomorrows will turn out, but the
rate of change is about to REALLY
>> take off. Don't be left in the dust. Think about where we were a century
>> ago, and then try to imagine how life will be a century from now.
> McD: That
more & more progress is due I do not deny.

   Simple progress may be what was enjoyed in the past, while 'disruption of the old status quo' is what the future will bring. Labor is fated to be liberated, or 'doomed to be abolished'. Speed that day, for capitalism in the meantime often brings out ugly qualities in people, often making them willing to do ANYTHING to amass property (or alien labor).

>>> McD: Each innovation rises the marginal wage
>> KE: For the lucky few who have jobs and wages. What about those who don't?
> McD: There are jobs for
all out there but most of them are never really
> going to be liked. & so opens up
many more jobs without the need for
> any
legislation or shorter hours.

   Hours of labor have continuously decreased since 1820, so chances are that hours will continue to decrease, legislation or no legislation, all of the way down to zero hours. Capitalism is truly doomed. Why isn't that fact relished with pure delight? Or, are class divisions more agreeable?

>> KE: That may be the way it's been for a long time, but changes are
>> accelerating
, and people ought to be taught to share the vanishing work in
>> anticipation of the time when smarter machines REALLY begin to murder jobs.
> McD: There is
no chance of that as the work is infinite whilst the machines
> will
remain finite & will boost wages by increased to make more work viable.
> They have
no chance of ever causing long run unemployment.
> DRS: Work is
not vanishing.

   If the Wall Street Journal reports that 'productivity is growing faster than the economy', and 'workers are being laid off without negatively affecting output', then why reject their report? Do better data exist?

>> KE: Or, maybe you don't think the machines are getting smarter, and maybe
>> you don't believe the widely reported
story of the robot that wandered
>> away from a factory and was nearly run over in the parking lot
> McD: I think machines are getting better but that there is
no chance that
> they can do
other than boost long run employment amongst the workers.

   Why isn't employment being boosted today? In the USA, unemployment rose 50% in 3 years, and a 'workerless recovery' is in the news, even though that seems like a contradiction in terms. Recovery can't be real without a high rate of participation.

> They open up more lines of work.

   As surplus capacity increases, granted new lines of work open up, but the new lines don't seem to be absorbing the surplus army of unemployed.

> They cannot end scarcity as those ignorant of the economic concept
> of scarcity fondly &
naively think.

   Scarcity is not often linked with economy, nor is it freely admitted that the abolition of one means the abolition of the other, but both abolitions are coming soon.

> What you see in agriculture can be repeated for all
> the jobs we have today viz. We will mainly be doing
> other jobs by 3000 AD; indeed by 2100 AD. But
> access
will never arrive; only cheaper access.

   Commodities will certainly become cheaper and cheaper, but the time will soon arrive when their values become too negligible to attract prices, so necessities will become free.

> DRS: The economic effect of robots is the same as the economic effect
> of machines in the eighteenth century.

   That may be true for now, but, if machines gave way to robots, then robots will give way to nanotech, and the infinite intelligence of networked nanotech will make existence as effortless as anyone will like.

>>>> KE: The economy is dynamic, so mechanisms must be installed
>>>> to prevent a
crisis of overproduction, such as what caused
>>>> the
Great Depression of the 1930's.
>>> McD: Why do you think the 1930s had anything to do with
> DRS: Output soon exceeded what it had in 1929-30, and is now vastly greater.
> So how can the
depression of the 1930s have been due to overproduction?

   Blaming depressions on 'overproduction' is an old way of expressing the problem, but 'a shortage of paying customers' could also be used, because of the shortage of customers for both commodities and human labor. Not enough stuff is being bought to keep everyone busy. The term 'underconsumption' can also apply.

>> KE: In 1849, M+E wrote (me9.6): "Hence after two trade crises,
>> which, it is true, were caused exclusively by the over-production of
>> manufactured goods but in their extent cannot at all be compared with
>> the crisis just ended, the drop in exports was double that of 1848, a
>> year which was preceded by a glut in the Asian markets, two bad harvests,
>> and speculation on a scale never seen before in the world, and a year
>> when every corner of old Europe was shaken by revolutions!
> McD: Do you think that was true?

   M+E chronicled their historical epoch very well. If that epoch would be studied, then no more educational source than M+E can be found. Their quote is probably as true as anything else written on that particular subject.

>> M+E linked depression to over-production over 20 times in their
Collected Works. The link between the two is 100% logical. If more
>> is produced than what can be sold, then production needs to be slowed
>> down, and the logical way to slow down production is to work less.
> McD: But greater output
simply boosts purchasing power & real wages
simply rise as a result.

   Maybe in the world you live in, but not in mine. During the 1920's, the AFL watched warehouses fill with unsold products, so they begged for shorter work hours to stem the glut of commodities, but bosses held fast to their long-hour policies. The AFL could foresee what would someday result, so the crash of 1929 was no surprise to them. Ben Hunnicutt wrote: "A. 0. Wharton, president of the International Association of Machinists, argued that "increased production accentuates the problems of overproduction and underconsumption. Increased wages and reduced hours go hand in hand with increased production . . .... Economic balance could be maintained only if "wages advance and leisure hours increase. If some sort of balance is not maintained, we are headed straight for disaster." AFL vice president Matthew Woll observed that since "production is overlapping our ability to consume," shorter hours would serve as a "restraining influence" and limit production to "rational levels.""

   Shorter work hours is a painless and practical solution to crises of underconsumption.

> J.B. Say explained this for Marx in his books
> that Marx read, but he did
not want to know.

   'Marx didn't want to know'? The publishers of the Collected Works wrote (me28.xxii): "Marx severely criticised the theories of capital and profit set forth in the works of Say, Senior, McCulloch and other economists as blatant example of apologetic writing that hypocritically presented capitalist exploitation in a rosy light."

   Marx's economic volumes contain dozens of critiques of J.B. Say.

> DRS: Marx and Engels were pretty hopeless on the trade cycle.
> You omit to quote
their discovery that crises occurred regularly
> every ten years, for example.

   The number of years between crises seems to have varied from one era to another, so ten isn't a number of critical importance.

   me37.488 "//As I have already stated elsewhere, a change has taken place here since the last major general crisis. The acute form of the periodic process, with its former ten-year cycle, appears to have given way to a more chronic, long drawn out, alternation between a relatively short and slight business improvement and a relatively long, indecisive depression - taking place in the various industrial countries at different times. But perhaps it is only a matter of a prolongation of the duration of the cycle. In the early years of world commerce, 1815-47, it can be shown that these cycles lasted about five years; from 1847 to 1867 the cycle is clearly ten years; is it possible that we are now in the preparatory stage of a new world crash of unparalleled vehemence?"

   Engels to Bebel (me47.23): "Your view of the business conditions is being corroborated in England, France and America. It is an intermediate crisis like that of 1841-42, but on a much vaster scale. Generally speaking, it is only since 1847 (because of Californian and Australian gold production which resulted in the world market becoming fully established) that the ten-year cycle has clearly emerged. Now, when America, France and Germany are beginning to break England's monopoly of the world market and when, therefore, overproduction is beginning, as it did before 1847, to assert itself more rapidly, the quinquennial intermediate crises are also recurring. Proof of this is the complete exhaustion of the capitalist mode of production. The period of prosperity no longer reaches its full term; overproduction recurs after only 5 years and, even during those 5 years, things in general go downhill. Which, however, is very far from proving that, between 1884 and 1887, we shan't have a period of pretty brisk trade, as happened between 1844 and 1847. But then the great crash will quite surely come."

>>> McD: You do not seem to be thinking of the fact that our income has to
>>> come from the product
, Ken. If we do less then less will be produced so
>>> we will have to have less income as a result. How can it be just the same?
>> KE:
Making the economy MORE inclusive means MORE products, not 'less'.
>> Partial participation hurts the economy like nothing else.
> McD: But there is
no need to cut hours to get people back. And if they
> all did go back thus then they could have yet
more by longer hours
> again.
Long hours is not a cause of mass unemployment, is it?

   'Long hours for some' is very much the cause of 'unemployment for others'. Apparently, people are willing to pay for only so much work to be done, so if some people hog most of it, then a bunch of others are going to be left behind. That is why legislation would be so apt in spreading the work around more equitably. The 35 hour week did wonders in reducing French unemployment, and could do wonders elsewhere.

>>> McD: ... Supply & demand, the vulgar economics that Marx
>>> attempted to explain the reality behind, is way
nearer the truth
>>> than
his account & if there are more managers than laborers
>>> then the
latter will be paid more from the joint project.
>> KE: Valuable commodities are not created from
supply and demand alone.
>> Try producing without resources,
human labor, capital, and time.
> McD: But how do
they form an alternative to supply & demand? I don't
> know what you mean here, Ken.

   Supply and demand, by themselves, produce nothing. Resources, human labor, capital, and time are essential to the production of useful commodities and services. Supply and demand do little more than help capitalists set prices, but do not determine value.

>> KE: Marx's last word was (me37.189): "Supply and demand determine
>> the market price, and so does the market price, and the market value in the
>> further analysis, determine supply and demand. This is obvious in the case
>> of demand, since it moves in a direction opposite to prices, swelling when
>> prices fall, and vice versa. But this is also true of supply.
> McD: But those things are not in opposition to
supply & demand
> as far as I can see.
> DRS: I am afraid that the above
quotation from Marx shows him at his worst.
> He
never grasped the concept of a mathematical function. He was even worse
> at math than I am, and that is no mean feat. Hence, he thought of "
> and "
demand" purely as quantities. He did not clearly understand the
> difference between "
demand" (a schedule or curve) and "quantity demanded"
> (how much is wanted at a given price). Hence, he thought he could dismiss
> the suggestion that
market value was determined by supply and demand by
> saying that
market value, in its turn determined supply and demand. This
> is terribly muddled.

   When it comes to prices, many a marketplace factor can influence. But, that muddle can properly be set aside. It need not interfere with amending old laws and/or creating new laws to put many more people to work.



   In worldincommon, Anthony W. wrote, in part:

> WSM, which is the most heavily censored and the most
> totalitarian forum on the web!

   Ha! You ought to try the Green Alliance USA forum, and see how long you last. I was taken off immediately after gloating over the restoration of private property in Russia and the Eastern Bloc. Many others live in mortal fear of crossing paths with the list owner, so they temper their speech accordingly. WIC, on the other hand, is as free and uncensored as the old RBG forum before it was axed a year or so ago.



   In worldincommon, arminius wrote:

> Who was RBG???

   RBG stood for Red, Blue (collar), and Green. It was a typical Yahoo! forum. Li'l Joe Johnson and I got into some very long debates for awhile. Suddenly, one day, the forum disappeared off the face of the earth without a trace. Gone, but not forgotten.



   Redrepublicanuk wrote:

> Is the abolition of private property actually viable in practice or
> theory? Are
communists stating that I cannot even own a TV and that
Joe bloggs can just enter the place i live and have equal rights as me to
> do as he pleases
? In addition, surely state ownership is still private in
> that the
state has the right to exclude. I can understand how instruments
> of production can be held in common but not consumer durables and
> housing! Can someone explain the
abolition of private property to me?

   Converting either personal or private property into state property enjoys zero credibility nowadays, especially after the events of 1989 et seq.

   Millennia ago, private property could not exist until productive forces sufficiently developed for surpluses to gather, and then the surpluses were disputed. Private property, the state, and the nuclear family then arose as social institutions to help mediate. Because labor creates property, property will continue to be disputed until the abolition of labor. M+E wrote in The Holy Family (me4.278):

   ""Labour" is the living basis of private property, it is private property as the creative source of itself. Private property is nothing but objectified labour. If it is desired to strike a mortal blow at private property, one must attack it not only as a material state of affairs, but also as activity, as labour. It is one of the greatest misapprehensions to speak of free, human, social labour, of labour without private property. "Labour" by its very nature is unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property. Hence the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of "labour"" ...

   If the connection between labor and property was correctly formulated in M+E's early days, then it remains a mystery why the abolition of private property become so important in their mature years. Couldn't the problems associated with expropriation be at all anticipated? The Russian and other revolutions resulted in lots of grief with few lasting positive results, and expropriation was reversed in many countries after 1989.

   20th century communist revolutions didn't correspond to M+E's concept of 'simultaneous revolutions in the most developed countries, resulting in a universal expropriatory proletarian dictatorship enjoying universal suffrage in democratic republics' - a far cry from Stalinist dictatorships. The one thing that was loosely common to M+E's vision was the expropriation of land and means of production.

   M+E had great humanitarian expectations for expropriation. Engels' 1877 bio of Marx explained how it would result in full participation in the economy (me24.193): ... "the productive forces of society, which have outgrown the control of the bourgeoisie, are only waiting for the associated proletariat to take possession of them in order to bring about a state of things in which every member of society will be enabled to participate not only in production but also in the distribution and administration of social wealth, and which so increases the productive forces of society and their yield by planned operation of the whole of production that the satisfaction of all reasonable needs will be assured to everyone in an ever-increasing measure."

   Full participation was expected to result from expropriation, as well as a great leveling of class distinctions. But, few are interested today, because many ordinary people do pretty well under capitalism. Compare life in the USA and the UK to a century ago, and it's easy to see why so many people are bought off, and will continue to be bought off. But, it may not be long before our worsening economic crisis inspires governments to help people share what little work that has yet to be taken over by computers and technology. Governmental concern will help perpetuate capitalism for quite a while longer, at least to the point where the work week becomes extremely short, and future reductions are scoffed at by hardy volunteers who will step in to perform the remainder of the intellectual labor, until computers become REALLY smart, and production runs itself.

   Thought about carefully enough, M+E's abolition of private property - before the abolition of labor - turns out to be worthless to ordinary people.

   Marx: Judenfrage (me3.153): ... "man declares by political means that private property is abolished as soon as the property qualification for the right to elect or be elected is abolished, as has occurred in many states of North America. [Thomas] Hamilton quite correctly interprets this fact from a political point of view as meaning: "the masses have won a victory over the property owners and financial wealth". Is not private property abolished in idea if the non-property owner has become the legislator for the property owner? The property qualification for the suffrage is the last political form of giving recognition to private property."



   In greensUSA, William T. wrote:

> I hope some of you find this thread as interesting as I did.
> (If there are more interesting posts in this still young
> thread, I might post them as a reply to this post.)

   8617 was a well assembled list of injustices, but 8618 was a real howler:

   In AlasBabylon, robert w. wrote in 8618:

> A beautiful and heartfelt plea, but there is one problem.
> Who are we to vote for?
> The Democrats are
no better than the Republicans. All of the
> likely Democratic candidates for president are card carrying
> members of the War Party, their hands drip with the blood
> of innocent children just like the Republicans. They are
> the regime
as much as the Republicans.

   This absurdity stinks of a state of denial that 'the Greens and Nader didn't hand the Presidency over to Bush.' Every concerned citizen knows that the USA wouldn't be in half the trouble it's in if Gore had beaten Bush.

> In my state, I don't even have the "right" to cast a vote for
> a protest, third party candidate, as our laws regarding non
> mainstream political parties are
more strict and punitive
> than those in formerly communist Russia!
> I see no solution emerging from Washington, DC. The Republic
> is effectively
dead, the Empire rules. As with the old Roman
> Empire, the forms and ceremonies of the republic are
> maintained, but this is
strictly for show.
> Robert W., OKC

   This is as nihilistic as 'people would have nothing to lose by smashing the state.' W. should go ahead and rally as many people as he can to smash the state, and if he is lucky, he'll be at least as successful as the SLA. It's hard to believe that forums can still entertain such infantile nonsense as W.'s, at a time when sober solutions are needed.



   In worldincommon, johnfull2 wrote:

> The French 35 hour workweek hasn't reduced their advertising any.

   Advertising can't be expected to be curtailed just because one particular country decides to lop a few hours off its work week. Advertising would be curtailed only if activists were successful in winning a world-wide campaign against wasteful surplus value production.

> If anything, products must be promoted more vigorously when their
> costs rise, due to increased
labor costs in the form of mandated
> shorter workweeks
...French television tames advertising,
> though, by insisting on keeping it at the end of programs.

   If only they'd do that in the good old USA! Thanks for the input. Glad you had a chance to travel, and can bring informed perspectives to the issues.

> This makes the ads more entertaining, since they have an audience
> less captive - after these messages...
> In
worldincommon, Ken Ellis wrote:
>> Advertising comes entirely out of surplus value,
>> so if relief from the bombardment of advertising is
>> a goal, then
cut back on surplus value by adopting a
>> shorter work week.



   In greensUSA, William T. wrote:

> Ken,
> Before you call Robert W. "
nihilistic" and "infantile,"
> you might want to take a look at what he said in another
> post, one that I reposted here as
> and which concluded "
This is not a counsel of despair, however.
<<There's lots to be done at the local level>>, but it won't get done
> if people keep chasing the
illusion that there is something to be
> done in Washington, DC. Abandon all hope, you who go there.
> [emphasis added]
> A bit above that, Robert wrote "
If the Greens and Libertarians are
> smart they will not run federal candidates in 2004, and completely
> devolve their organization down to the neighborhood level, going so
> far as to close their national office.
" Are there not greens who
> take essentially the same position?

   It doesn't diminish the fact that his sentence "The Democrats are no better than the Republicans", and other sentences, were tantamount to calling for a boycott of both parties, in spite of common knowledge that the Dems are not as bad as the Reps. The Clinton admin is one such example. When his 8 years were up, the country wasn't in very bad shape, and unemployment was down to 4%. Carter has to be given credit for not invading a couple of countries he was being goaded to invade, so Reagan did it for him, and no one needs to be reminded about how we felt about his war in El Salvador and Iran-Contra. No doubt Gore would have done his darnedest to keep things on an even keel, whereas many know that the Reps are interested in one thing: giving away the store to those who have already ripped off everything else. Nader and the Greens only aided and abetted Republican crimes. This is rather mainstream opinion.

> You might also want to take a look at Robert's "Oklahoma Food"
website, Ken. It's at and is mentioned
> in the tag line that follows Robert's signature in the post.

   It appears as though he has quite a business going. Nothing wrong with providing needed goods and services, but business types don't always represent the interests of ordinary workers, and 'boycotting mainstream politics' is an example of ignoring ordinary interests.

> It was this that Jason referred to in
> when he
> said "
I don't know that Robert W., moderator of RunningOnEmpty2,
> identifies with greens per se, but I find his chosen emphasis on
> local food security (e.g. CSA's) to be distinctly green (without
> getting overly morbid).
> In short, Ken, Robert W. may disagree with you, but I don't
> see how that by itself is evidence that he is either
> or
> Bill

   If W. thinks that the American gov't is no better than Stalinist, then he obviously doesn't think it's worth participating in. But, such silliness is obviously infantile. It is nihilistic to the extent it might be advocated that our alleged 'Stalinist regime' should be replaced with something else. Very few ordinary people would agree. Politics is a big numbers game, and it never helps a cause to alienate the masses with hype. W. might be fully qualified to run a business, but seems to have been unduly influenced by hyper radical nonsense. That's unfortunate.



   It looks as though activists were correct about the Iraq quagmire. I was hoping for a quick and complete success, but should have known that the Republicans would be unable to do much more than destroy lots of things, and then herald all that destruction as proof of their success. When will I ever learn?

End of June 2003 Correspondence


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