- This topic has 67 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 7 months ago by Anonymous.
December 1, 2019 at 6:50 pm #191931December 1, 2019 at 9:21 pm #191933
Interesting, I suppose but what does it have to say about the price of a loaf of bread?
December 1, 2019 at 11:30 pm #191935
- This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by James_Moir.
Indeed, James. Lets hope its not endorsing the subjective theory of value LOLDecember 2, 2019 at 8:31 am #191936
The real issue here is a philosophical one.
By ‘objective’, what is meant?
Either ‘object-in-itself’ or ‘object-for-subject’.
If one (like the vast majority of contemporary physicists) wants there to be ‘something-out-there’, a ‘something’ which we didn’t create, then one will choose ‘object-in-itself”. Of course, for this choice, is the downside of then having to come up with a ‘creator’, which is not humanity. This choice always leads to ‘god’.
If one follows Marx, though, one wants us to be able to change our world, and so must choose (as did Marx) the ‘object-for-subject’. We create our own objects, as an ‘object-for-us’. The plus of this choice, of course, is the end of religion, because we are the creators of our universe.
Those who’ve read their philosophy will see the role of German Idealism in producing this way of thinking – Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, etc., ending in Marx’s unifying of the two opposed strands of philosophy in his ‘Idealism-Materialism’, his ‘social productionism’.
Thus, there is an ‘objective world’ (don’t listen to the ‘individual-biological subjectivists’, who adhere to an ideology of bourgeois physics), and this ‘objective world’ is our creation, produced by our social activity, our theory and practice.
Since it is our product, our objects can be democratically produced. ‘The World’ or ‘The Universe’ is a bourgeois construct, which the ruling class claim we can’t change. But ‘Our World’ or ‘Our Universe’ is our product and we can, as Marx claimed, change it.
 The concept of ‘object-in-itself’ implies human passivity, whereas ‘object-for-subject’ implies human activity.
Since the truth, as any worker knows, is human activity, social production, those who argue for ‘object-in-itself’ are lying to workers, and plan for the elite themselves to be the ‘active side’, the ‘specialists’ (as Marx pointed out in his Theses on Feuerbach), who will then go on to create a world to their liking, based upon their elite interests and purposes. ‘Object-in-itself’ is an inherently undemocratic concept.
December 2, 2019 at 6:24 pm #191939
- This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by LBird.
Subjective, in my dictionary, is defined as adj based on personal feelings. So, I wonder, where do personal feelings fit in with the Labour Theory of Value?December 3, 2019 at 7:48 am #191941
James Moir wrote “Subjective, in my dictionary, is defined as adj based on personal feelings.”
But in regard to philosophy, the ‘subject’ is the conscious part of the ‘subject-object’ relationship.
So, for those who choose ‘object-in-itself’ (ie. physicalists, materialists, most bourgeois physicists), the ‘subject’ is essentially passive, and the ‘object’ dominates by the sense impressions it makes upon the ‘subject’.
But, for those who regard the subject as active, as the creator of its own ‘object’ (as did Marx and the US Pragmatists), there is the further choice of this ‘subject’ either being a ‘biological-individual’ (as for Pragmatism) or being a ‘social-individual’ (as for Marx).
Regarding the Labour Theory of Value, both one’s choice of ‘object-in-itself’ or ‘object-for-subject’, and ‘biological-subject’ or ‘social-subject’, will determine one’s view of ‘value’.
For Marx, ‘value’ was a social product (ie. it wasn’t an ‘object-in-itself’ nor a product of an individual ‘biological-subject’), and so it was an historical product which we can collectively change.
Materialists regard ‘value’ as ‘matter’ (an ‘object-in-itself’, which is the whole point of ‘materialism’, a world of ‘objects’ which we don’t create), whereas Marxists regard all our objects as products of social relations, which we can thus change. That’s why Capital is scientific, and produces an objectively true account. Which we can change, of course, if we are so minded. We workers have no gods but ourselves. We certainly don’t bow down to ‘matter’, an 18th century ideology which Marx scorned.
December 3, 2019 at 9:29 am #191944
- This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by LBird.
The SPGB’s position on “value” is that it is essentially a social relationship. As Marx said “value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition”
However, this does not imply economic subjectivism or support for the subjective theory of value. There is a tendency to equate objectivism with “coarse materiality” which is wrong. Durkheim spoke of “social facts” as having an external coercive normative power. He demonstrated this in his famous study of suicide by attributing different rates of suicides among different sections of the population – for example Catholics versus Protestants – which he attributed to the existence of different social facts applying to each
Economic subjectivists argue that value is determined by the subjective desires of economic actors. Since subjective desires can only be experienced by individuals – society is not a thing that experiences desires – this fully accords with their own individualistic worldview. From this point of view society is the product of individuals and so we get absurd philosophical ideas being touted in 17th/18th centuries that society was the result of a social contract being drawn up between individuals. The opposite to this holism which is no less absurd is that individuals are purely a product of society. A third position is represented by Emergence theory – that society depends on empirical individuals but cannot be “reduced” to individuals anymore than mental acts be “reduced” to the firing of neurons in the brain. Crude or mechanical materialism in this sense is fundamentally atomistic and hence fully in accord with the individualistic worldview which we Marxists oppose.
This does not mean subjective desires do not enter in the picture as far as economics are concerned. The use value of an object is in a sense subjective. What the subjective theory of value does is to confuse or conflate use value with exchange value – the ratio in which commodities exchange – which is determined by objective factors. But for commodities to exchange they must have use value
As Marx put it:
To begin with, a commodity, in the language of the English economists, is ‘any thing necessary, useful or pleasant in life,’ an object of human wants, a means of existence in the widest sense of the term. Use-value as an aspect of the commodity coincides with the physical palpable existence of the commodity. Wheat, for example, is a distinct use-value differing from the use-values of cotton, glass, paper, etc. A use-value has value only in use, and is realized only in the process of consumption. One and the same use-value can be used in various ways. But the extent of its possible application is limited by its existence as an object with distinct properties. It is, moreover, determined not only qualitatively but also quantitatively. Different use-values have different measures appropriate to their physical characteristics; for example, a bushel of wheat, a quire of paper, a yard of linen. Whatever its social form may be, wealth always consists of use-values, which in the first instance are not affected by this form. From the taste of wheat it is not possible to tell who produced it, a Russian serf, a French peasant or an English capitalist. Although use-values serve social needs and therefore exist within the social framework, they do not express the social relations of production. For instance, let us take as a use-value a commodity such as a diamond. We cannot tell by looking at it that the diamond is a commodity. Where it serves as an aesthetic or mechanical use-value, on the neck of a courtesan or in the hand of a glass-cutter, it is a diamond and not a commodity. To be a use-value is evidently a necessary prerequisite of the commodity, but it is immaterial to the use-value whether it is a commodity. Use-value as such, since it is independent of the determinate economic form, lies outside the sphere of investigation of political economy. It belongs in this sphere only when it is itself a determinate form. Use-value is the immediate physical entity in which a definite economic relationship—exchange-value—is expressed.[Critique of Political Economy]December 3, 2019 at 10:32 pm #191949
But in regard to philosophy, the ‘subject’ is the conscious part of the ‘subject-object’ relationship.But in regard to philosophy, the ‘subject’ is the conscious part of the ‘subject-object’ relationship.But in regard to philosophy, the ‘subject’ is the conscious part of the ‘subject-object’ relationship.
All very interesting, but in my experience it hardly comes up in Saturday night Pub conversations.
Although, the price of bread or petrol stands a better chance.
Anyway, it’s way beyond my elementary education so I’ll leave it for others to figure out. Good luck…December 3, 2019 at 10:52 pm #191951WezParticipant
Perhaps you should change your pub James – such conversations are ‘de rigueur’ in the pubs where I drink. Leaving it to others to figure it out can be very dodgy. The mind/reality duality is one of the oldest philosophical questions and deserves some consideration. We all have consciousness and it is not unreasonable to inquire as to its nature.December 3, 2019 at 11:31 pm #191952
This link might help James
Emergence theory is a kind of intermediate position between atomistic/reductionist theories about the world, on the one hand, and holistic theories on the other.
In very crude sociological terms, the former argues that there is no such thing as society (Margaret Thatcher) while the latter argues that there is no such thing as individuals only society with a capital S.
Both perspectives are questionable which is why I opt for the intermediate one – emergence theory. I think Marx held this view too. He was not a crude reductionist or mechanical materialist but he did not deny the importance of human agency in social affairs either.December 4, 2019 at 8:38 am #191957
Wez wrote “Perhaps you should change your pub James – such conversations are ‘de rigueur’ in the pubs where I drink. Leaving it to others to figure it out can be very dodgy. The mind/reality duality is one of the oldest philosophical questions and deserves some consideration. We all have consciousness and it is not unreasonable to inquire as to its nature.”
This is one of the most important political/philosophical/ideological posts that an SPGB member has made for a long time. Any socialist that can’t explain their political position on the ‘mind/reality duality’ won’t be able to persuade any politically-curious worker of their view of the future.
James would be well-advised to, at the least, become conversant of the political outcome of holding any particular view of this ‘duality’, even if James feels unable to participate in a detailed discussion.
I’d go so far as to claim that this subject being a common and important ‘pub conversation’, would be an indicator of the nearness of socialism. Whilst most workers freely admit to being baffled by philosophy, we’ll never be able to build a democratic socialism. It’s our job as socialists to make these types of ‘conversations’ both understandable and relevant.
Philosophy, like all social production, must become under our democratic control.December 4, 2019 at 8:22 pm #191961
Philosophy, like all social production, must become under our democratic control.
Well, from the foregoing it would seem that I have been participating, albeit slightly, in your Philosophic argument.
I wonder if there is a Philosophic explanation of why I joined the S.P.G.B. fifty years ago?December 4, 2019 at 8:42 pm #191962AnonymousInactive
“God is silent. Now, if only Man could shut up.” Woody Allen.December 4, 2019 at 8:52 pm #191963AnonymousInactive
A thread of convoluted, anthropocentrist waffle.December 4, 2019 at 8:59 pm #191966WezParticipant
How very British of you John. You don’t find that level of philistinism within the working class of France and Spain etc. I don’t know how or why such anti-intellectualism started in this country but it has long outstayed its welcome.
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