surplus labor

Jus sayin, maybe worshipping rich people for giving back money they structurally stole or passed between each other is bullshit.

“The laws of capitalism, blind and invisible to the majority, act upon the individual without his thinking about it. He sees only the vastness of a seemingly infinite horizon before him. That is how it is painted by capitalist propagandists, who purport to draw a lesson from the example of Rockefeller — whether or not it is true — about the possibilities of success. The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture.”

Ernesto Che Guevara 

mattykinsel  asked:

How do you know the surplus theory of value is real? Like.. you know? And what about situations where you lend a hand for a neighbour and they give you cash for helping idk, clean their garage or something with them. Is that an appropriation of surplus value - how so? Thanks so much!

I’m not sure what you mean by the first part. We live in a class system where the owning class gets to handle the material surplus (generated by the working class) by virtue of their ownership over society’s productive gears; it’s an objective fact that class stratification is real, and class stratification is materially realized in the exploitation of labor and the appropriation of the surplus. 

As for the second part, the communist goal is to make money and market transactions obsolete, not to send some bureaucratic committee around constantly blocking them when they do show up. Like, we don’t concern ourselves with some feudal baron coming into our towns and forcing us into serfdom because we have advanced beyond feudalism, and to suggest that we arrange ourselves in that way is just, well, silly – no one would take you seriously. Modes of production change according to material factors, which in turn influence social factors, which in turn acclimate people to different ways of living, and so on and so forth. Once socialism/communism firmly cements itself, the idea of subjecting everything to hierarchical market transactions and private property rights will seem absolutely ridiculous. Common ownership over the common inheritance will just be taken for granted. 

There’s this persistent argument coming from ancaps and right-wing libertarian types: “If someone wants to sell their labor to me in exchange for a wage, who are you to stop me??” This overlooks the fact that pretty much everyone does not willingly submit to wage labor if they have, ya know, literally any other viable option. If your needs can be more readily provided for through democratic production, in a scenario where you actually get a say in the work you do, why would you “voluntarily” choose to work beneath someone else who takes the bulk of the final product? To reiterate the above point, imagine some feudal landlord asking a bourgeois revolutionary in 1730, “if the peasant prefers to be tied to my land and prefers to pledge loyalty to me, who are you to stop me??” In the end, the bourgeoisie gained power and used enclosures and state violence to drive those peasants into cities to become industrial proletariat, forcing them to adjust to a new system of production. Class stratification isn’t voluntary. 

That tangent aside, it’s about transforming the material realities of society by harnessing power and technology for democratic/grassroots ends, not about dogmatically trying to institute the changes from above. Hopefully I was clear in my explanation, and thanks for the question!


anonymous asked:

Wasn't Marx a capitalist? He doesn't provide a structure. He wanted a worker revolution, not anything like what Russia, China, and Venezuela adopted.

N-no…. Marx wasn’t a capitalist.

While Marx (like most philosophers) refrains from laying out is ideal society in detail, his main thrust is critiquing capitalism via surplus labor. The main problem is: surplus labor is based of the labor theory of value, in which the value of a good is determined by the labor required in the production of the good. The obvious flaw is that the labor itself also has subjective value. So when his entire critique is hinged on bad economic theory, it sort of falls apart at the base.


implications of junkertown robot battles:

junkertown must have plentiful enough resources that not only could someone build and pilot a functioning mech suit, but multiple people can build and pilot functioning mech suits, and maintain them, long term, to the point that it is a local sport.

this isn’t just about scrap, either. we’re talking about the means to power them through fuel or an electrical grid. and that means these are using _excess_ resources. junkertown must have enough fuel or electricity to justify using some for mech battles. because they could use that power for things like refrigeration, light, climate control, a whole myriad of more important things. power must be plentiful in junkertown.

not only that but, complicated mechanical parts, the knowledge of how to make, replace, and maintain them. which takes time to learn and energy to use, that is necessarily not being used elsewhere. junkertown has mechanical experts using their technical knowledge for entertainment. there’s no shortage of labor and technical knowledge and skill in junkertown!

and, they must have space for all of this. many workshops for building and maintaining the mechs, spaces for testing and an arena for using them in. space is a valuable resource! it could be used for housing, or water collection, or any number of more vital things. but junkertown must have enough to sustain a small entertainment industry.

for example! you need people to design, build, pilot, fix and maintain the mechs, then you need people who build and maintain not just an arena study enough to fight in, but a reasonable venue for their audience, and all of the technical things needed to run an arena. you need people to set up fights and figure out how to accommodate the crowd. then people who enforce the rules, and make sure everyone in the audience stays safe. there are so many more moving parts than just the mechs and the mechanics.

which brings me to: community. something like a local sport as entertainment points to co-operation and community in junkertown. you literally can’t have a thing like that if people are overwhelmingly hostile. you wouldn’t get people trusting enough to group up in an arena. this would be a point of pride among junkers, that they have their own, awesome form of entertainment, that they made and they maintain. junkers have a shared local culture!

all of this requires a functioning community that can work together. even if mech fights are a way to solve disputes, they’re mainly entertainment. and more about blowing off steam than anything else. sports like that help relieve tensions. if mechs got wrecked every fight, it wouldn’t be sustainable. and if junkers just killed each other to get what they wanted, why bother with the mechs?

and! the other skilled technicians they would need to make this work? doctors. junkertown must have enough surplus medical supplies, and enough skilled medical experts, with enough spare time, to justify those battles. and the potential danger to the audience.

in conclusion junkertowns mech battles point to a thriving community with plenty of surplus supplies. it also points to a whole host of technical experts, working together, and enough surplus labor to make such a massive undertaking feasible. the mechs may not be anywhere near omnic levels of sophistication, but they & their public battles would require enormous amounts of skill, time, labor, and co-operation. i think that’s a very important lens into junkertown’s inner workings.

Capital is indeed the body without organs of the capitalist, or rather of the capitalist being.[…]Machines and agents cling so closely to capital that their very functioning appears to be miraculated by it. Everything seems objectively to be produced by capital as quasi cause. As Marx observes, in the beginning capitalists are necessarily conscious of the opposition between capital and labor, and of the use of capital as a means of extorting surplus labor. But a perverted, bewitched world quickly comes into being, as capital increasingly plays the role of a recording surface that falls back on (se rabat sur) all of production. (Furnishing or realizing surplus value is what establishes recording rights.)
—  Deleuze & Guattari | Anti-Oedipus ch.1

The connection between [the productive] forces and [the social] relations is an illuminating one. Among other things, it allows us to recognize that you can only have certain social relations if the productive forces have evolved to a certain extent. If some people are to live a lot more comfortably than others, you need to produce a sizable economic surplus; and this is possible only at a certain point of productive development. You cannot sustain an immense royal court complete with minstrels, pages, jesters, and chamberlains if everyone has to herd goats or grub for plants all the time just to survive.

The class struggle is essentially a struggle over the surplus, and as such is likely to continue as long as there is not a sufficiency for all. Class comes about whenever material production is so organized as to compel individuals to transfer their surplus labor to others in order to survive. When there is little or no surplus, as in so-called primitive communism, everyone has to work, nobody can live off the toil of others, and so there can be no classes. Later, there is enough of a surplus to fund classes like feudal lords, who live by the labor of their underlings. Only with capitalism can enough surplus be generated for the abolition of scarcity, and thus of social classes, to become possible. But only socialism can put this into practice.

—  Terry Eagleton
What jobs would be doable under a Job Guarantee program?
Jeff Spross has a piece about the idea that the federal government should guarantee a job to anyone who wants it. As with most such pieces…
By Matt Bruenig

UBI-discourse seems to have moved to Job-Guarantee-discourse among the left, and in doing so seems to miss what the purpose of a JG is.

Before going into the particulars of these jobs, it is useful to underscore the point of a JG. The stated purpose of a JG is to have the federal government absorb surplus labor when the economy enters a recession and the private sector sheds workers. This ensures that private sector recessions do not result in mass unemployment, but instead result in public employment expanding and then later contracting when the private sector rebounds.

That’s nice, but no. The point of a JG is to solve a philosophical dilemma.

If we can’t have communism, then we have capitalism. Your ability to eat, to build a life, your very identity, is all determined by whether you have a job. This makes sense as “motivate people to work and contribute to the lives of others.” This doesn’t make sense and is cruel in terms of “there are many people who want to work, but nobody wants to hire them.” They are denied basic material needs, their fundamental identity, and told it is their fault.

Most people ignore this.

But there are some people who do want to justify capitalism, and are perforced to pay attention to contradictions like this, so an exogenous guarantee “someone will hire you” resolves that for them.

In this essay the classical Marxist position that housework is ‘non-productive’ is challenged for the first time. Dalla Costa points out that what the housewife produces in the family are not simply use-values but the commodity ‘labour power’ which the husband then can sell as a ‘free’ wage labourer in the labour market. She clearly states that the productivity of the housewife is the precondition for the productivity of the (male) wage labourer. The nuclear family, organized and protected by the state, is the social factory where this commodity ‘labour power’ is produced. Hence, the housewife and her labour are not outside the process of surplus value production, but constitute the very foundation upon which this process can get started. The housewife and her labour are, in other words, the basis of the process of capital accumulation. With the help of the state and its legal machinery women have been shut up in the isolated nuclear family, whereby their work there was made socially invisible, and was hence defined - by Marxist and non-Marxist theoreticians - as ‘non-productive’. It appeared under the form of love, care, emotionality, motherhood and wifehood […] one cannot understand the exploitation of wage-labour unless one understands the exploitation of non­wage-labour
—  Maria Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World ScaleWomen in the International Division of Labour, pp. 31-32

Do conservatives even understand how capitalism works? Workers by definition don’t take home what they earn under capitalism because managers accrue the surplus value generated by workers; a manager literally cannot pay a worker what the worker earns or else there is no capitalist enterprise. Labor generates all the wealth for society; capital is a leech.

anonymous asked:

Do you have a favorite historical document?

Yes. I carry it with me. It’s this:

This is a model of the U.S economy as a complicated figure-8 inextricably linking the public sector and private sector into a whole. Designed in 1934 by Lewis Baxter of Economic Security Analysts for Harry Hopkins’ brain trust at the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, this was an early powerpoint - the black boxes are holes that allowed you to move a spreadsheet of numbers up and down simulating changes in Federal spending, showing you different values for various economic variables as you went.

Baxter’s conclusion was that the Federal government could essentially decide what unemployment rate the U.S would have, and could hit 0% if it committed to “universal useful employment based on assured jobs in public service to all potential producers otherwise unemployed,” because “government activities constitute, in effect, an auxiliary industry, might might always utilize advantageously the entire current labor surplus; and that such “industry” differs from the others only with reference to the nature of its “products” and the method of marketing them.”

As long as you did that, the only difference between the Federal government spending $4 billion ($70 billion in 2014) and spending $34 billion ($593 billion in 2014) was that “the average producer is buyieng less individually and more co-operatively.” 

This is the most sweepingly radical document the U.S government has ever produced, and it was written in 1934 at a time when the Federal government was tiny, ludicrously weak in its capacity to change the lives of the ordinary citizen. And yet this document is so ambitious, so confident and optimistic of the ability of a democracy to master economic forces, that it makes everything that’s come since seem conservative by comparison. 

This is how Americans used to dream. 

Why the Job Market Sucks for Attorneys (beyond no jobs):

I have three degrees. I actually gave up finishing a fourth degree so I could study for the bar because my thesis was due at the same time. I passed the bar and am a licensed attorney. I currently have a job basically making filing runs to court from various law firms. 

I get paid state minimum wage and 42 cents per mile.

I am making a long post, more for my own sanity than anything else. Hopefully some of you feel the same way, please send me any mail with comments or questions.  

1. The Void 

Ah, the void, where your dreams can die before they ever began.

The void happens when you send out your application via the internet and are never sure if it ever arrived and was read. It’s when you attach a read receipt and never get the confirmation back. It’s when you apply and just…NOTHING. 

No feedback, no rejection, no calls, nothing. You’re falling in the rabbit hole chucking out your resume and cover letter like you got the Evil Queen Sallie Mae about to cut off your head. 

(She’s waving goodbye to public loan forgiveness)

You have no idea what you did wrong (if anything). You thought you were a perfect candidate, was the job pool too big? You will never know because you’re falling in the void. 

2. They can either pay you shit or expect it for free.

I recently applied for a job and asked what I could do to increase my chances of getting an interview. They miraculously replied and said in addition to a foreign language skill (mi espanol es muy malo, lo siento), I should think about volunteering. I would love to do that! Ironically I submitted an application for a legal aid group to volunteer and they, wait for it, NEVER GOT BACK TO ME. I literally cannot give away this shit for free.

(I’m fucking trying Heath Ledger, there’s a labor surplus in the legal market.)

Another problem is that I live in the Bay Area and I make minimum wage. For those of you who don’t know how expensive rent is in the Bay Area, this is the most accurate representation of simultaneously living in the Bay Area and paying Bay Area rent.

I pay close to a $1000 in rent and I have one of the best deals in the area. Moreover, I pay $200 a month for my student loans, not even counting my law school loans. In other words, I’m poor as fuck. So while I would love to volunteer, I can only do it either at night or on the weekends because I can’t afford to take a day off. Volunteering will also severely limit my time to actually apply to jobs.

But who knows, maybe a little volunteer work and you’ll get hired! Until you realize…

3. They can dick you around. 

So I recently made a post about how I was a finalist for a position and waited a month and a half to hear that nobody was hired. Here’s some more examples: 

I went on an interview for a super small firm (two attorneys) and was told I would be notified the following week. When that came and went, I sent a polite email inquiring if they needed anything to help assist them with a decision. A month and a half went by and I got a generic email saying I was denied. 

The night before another interview, they had me complete a massive employment application. 

Unfortunately they cancelled two hours beforehand due to a court emergency. That’s fine, shit happens, we said we would reschedule. I called two weeks later and they told me due to a new policy, they would no longer be hiring but would keep my application on hand. Last week I saw a craigslist ad for their firm…for a paralegal position. 

I had another interview with about 20 other people interviewing that day. They told me I would hear back within two weeks. That was a month and a half ago and last week I saw their same ad posted on craigslist. A girl can’t even get a fucking rejection letter anymore. 

It’s their market and you are a easily disposable commodity, and this is the horrible truth. There are a ton of amazing schools, amazing lawyers, and you all want the same thing. Could I leave the only place I always wanted to live in, and the place that was my home for ten years before law school? Sure. The job market is slightly better in smaller locations. That might be another sacrifice I have to make, of course the next point just makes that idea even worse to me because….

4. If you’re not sure you want to be a lawyer, you’re fucked.

The funny thing about all of this is that I’m not even sure I want to be a lawyer. 

I always really enjoyed public policy and politics. I went to law school to learn the law, to try to make effective change. I went to law school to make the world a better place, not necessarily to be a lawyer. 

I recently had a working job interview, where I just worked for an entire day. I drafted a petition, client letters, etc. I HATED IT. In part it was because I really disliked the idea of who I may be working with, but if I was offered the job I felt like I had no choice but to take it. A girl has to pay rent. 

Then I think, “Well I’ll just apply for other jobs. I’ll find my passion.” 

5. You’re now either overqualified or underqualified for all those other jobs.

Sometimes people just tell me that I need to apply for legal assistant jobs, receptionist positions, paralegal jobs. Start in these dream nonprofits and work my way up. Believe me, I applied. I’m now overqualified for those jobs! I used to that that was a total bullshit excuse until I began to experience it. How do I know for sure that I’m overqualified? They tell me. You try to start out in these lower-level positions and they’re concerned that you won’t stay or that you won’t be happy there. 

You know what makes me unhappy? The idea of being homeless. That makes me pretty fucking unhappy. 

The job market is no longer a place where you can start in a job and climb the ladder. You don’t work your way up through the mailroom, even though it would be good for many of us to know the ins and outs of the work. You start as a legal assistant and they want you to die there. 

Even if you’re not overqualified, guess who you’re competing with for those jobs you qualify for? All those older attorneys who were laid off in the recession. Last year I applied for a court position last year as a jury coordinator. I was more than qualifed but never heard a peep. I called in, curious to know if there was anything I could to improve my chances in a future application. I was flat out told that I was competing with attorneys with 10-20 years experience for the same job. It didn’t matter what I did, I just couldn’t hold a candle to them. So now we play the waiting game for the older generation to retire and/or die. 

At this point I’m just hoping that I’m able to keep going, keep going on these interviews and hope I land something. I don’t have any answers for the rest of you but I hope some of you feel the same and know you aren’t alone. 

Ultimately I am sure I will succeed the way I have in the past: by wearing people down until I get what I want. 



I find myself in agreement with the Socialism/Anarchism/Communism Facebook page very often, being a Libertarian Marxist/Luxemburgist myself. This description of their Libertarian Marxism is generally what I also think should happen in a broader context of anti-capitalist transformation, left unity, and the transition to socialism.

One of the central reasons why attempts at socialism have given rise to state capitalism and concentrated power has to do with the fact that these attempts were situated in countries that had not gone through analogous stages of late capitalism to build up their infrastructures, alongside the attempts being actively sabotaged by capitalist powers. If you’re on the cusp of feudalism and early capitalism as Russia was, for example, it’s understandable that a revolution focused at socialism would instead devolve into a scenario where the the state takes over the means of production and assumes the functions of capital, all so that infrastructure can be built up to de facto post-scarcity late capitalism and attempts at socialism can be handled far more adeptly. (I still argue that a mutualist or market socialist setup is a better mechanism to both build up infrastructure (since, structurally, you still have the analogous production-for-profit, markets, and competition that are also found in capitalism) and to train/prepare people for full production-for-need socialism through a flatter base, alongside the fact that the fruits from surplus labor value wouldn’t go to an isolated owner/bureaucrat class and could instead be managed by the people themselves – hell, it would probably be a faster process to reach a point of general post-scarcity, since you cut out the capitalist middlemen and instead get to see the benefits more universally realized. Dialectically, it could fulfill the need for liberalism before socialism; humanistically, it would result in far less oppression, poverty, and death. But I digress.) Ultimately, state capitalism and concentrated power do not lay the groundwork for an eventual scenario where the state could wither away; there would in effect need to be a true socialist revolution to transition out of state capitalism and its analogous “bourgeois epoch".

If a state is to exist at all in a post-capitalist world, it should be there to help ease and defend the transition, and it should not take over the functions of capital nor suppress attempts at anarchist/autonomous organization. If the state is to ever wither away, the economic base it reinforces must be as horizontal as possible – that’s where direct democratic worker councils come into play; if infrastructure still needs to be built up through an analogous liberal system, then mutualism or market socialism should take precedent (and from there, a transition to for-need socialism could be relatively smooth). Either way, a classless economic base – whether it be in production-for-need socialism or in production-for-profit mutualism – is an indispensable prerequisite for a scenario where the state can actually wither away, as opposed to a scenario where the forceful rupture of power by the people is still necessary (as it would be if the state reinforced a vertical economic base in a state capitalist context).

duxbelisarius  asked:

With regards to that Elon Musk article, do you know of any good articles/essays that respond to the Marxist/Neo-Marxist "Late Capitalism" spiel?

The term late-capitalism is a concept arguing that the period from the 1940′s to the present is temporary in terms of generally market based economies being the dominant form in the world. Without making this post super long, there’s a some background knowledge about Marx and Marxism you need to know to critique Marx.

Marx himself never used the term late-capitalism, but he described capitalism’s eventual collapse in Das Kapital. Having read Das Kapital, it’s one of his most docile predictions. He believed this collapse would come about due to a growing proletariat, shrinking middle class and shrinking number of capitalists (owners of means of production). He predicted that competition would drive wages lower and lower. 
Proponents of the idea that we are currently in late-capitalism have a lot of things going against them. The issue with these predictions is based on the notion of static wealth, which stems from Marx’s improper, labor theory of value.

You’ll see the equation c + L = W.

c represents the cost of capital involved in producing a good

L represents the labor added to the good

W is the outcome equaling the value of the good.

More extensive forms include what Marx calls neccisary labor and surplus labor.

This is all wrong however and we know this because of the paradox of value, most commonly shown in the diamond-water paradox.

A man out on a walk and can find a diamond, which is considered more valuable than water despite water being neccisary and essential to life.

This tells us that despite no labor being used to pick up the diamond, it still holds value. Value therefore must not be dependent upon labor or capital required as none is required for this diamond.

We can also determine that value is subjective based on the theory of marginal utility. The usefulness or satisfaction derived from each individual unit of a good or service is not static and changes with the quantity consumed. For example, if you purchase a newspaper, for $1.50, you likely won’t purchase another identical newspaper for $1.50 because you maximize your utility from one newspaper, but a second brings no more utility. This is called decreasing marginal utility.

I know it seems like I got really off track but knowing these basic flaws in Marxist theory show that over time, economic exchange is not a zero sum game, that wealth is not static over time and can grow among all people.

History proves this true and the Marxists false as over time, wealth has not only objectively grown for all economic classes but also, the division between those classes is falling.

anonymous asked:

So all anti-sex work policies are at best dangerously misguided and at worst actively deadly. But I am curious what you think that feminist utopia would be like? Do you think there would still be sex work if people didn't need to worry about food and shelter? Personally I do, it just wouldn't be gendered so heavily. Wdyt?

Well, it’s awfully convenient for most abolitionists and swerfs that they don’t spend an awful lot of time talking about what this feminist utopia would look like in pragmatic terms, so it’s hard to say *exactly* what prozzie-ing would or would not look like after the revolution.  Maybe it coincides with the singularity, and we all spend our days in endless holodeck games, and there can’t be any prostitution because we all only interact with computer simulations.

Otherwise, I think that, as long as there is trade (whether or not there is capitalism), sex will be a thing that people will want to trade, and trade for.  Does the trade of sex look less dangerous, coercive and exploitative when people’s survival isn’t held hostage to our productivity? Sure, of course. If people have more of their needs met, they will do fewer undesirable things in order to meet those needs (whether or how much sex work would remain “undesirable” in this feminist utopia is of course also up for debate). There is an enormous surplus of labor in the world, which serves only the purpose of maximizing top-of-the-pyramid profits.  In a world where your basic survival is reasonably guaranteed, there is far less work happening in general, because we work way more than we need to do in order to create the required resources for living in comfort.  

(My guess is that you’d see waitressing disappear as a profession way before you’d see us eternally irrepressible prozzies hang up our heels.) 

Profit – the unpaid surplus created by labor and appropriated by capital – is essentially a tax on labor with none of the pretense that it’s coming back to you in some way. In the best case scenario for tax, it’s put towards social programs and helpful common utilities. Profit, on the other hand, is essentially a tax on the worker’s labor for not owning means of production, a tax that is always there to line the pockets of the capitalist.

And that’s not even going into rent, the tax on the tenant enforced by the landlord.

anonymous asked:

i'm having difficulty understanding the concept of surplus labor/value, do you think you could help me? sorry if it is a stupid question

basically when someone hires you, they’re paying you for your labor-power, which is your capacity to do labor rather than the amount of labor done. they pay you to do work rather than for what you produce. because of this, you end up producing more in value than you yourself earn in return. that unpaid labor is surplus labor and the value it creates is surplus value.