The Declining Rate of Profit – Who cares?

April 2024 Forums General discussion The Declining Rate of Profit – Who cares?

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  • #99431
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    I've tried a number of times (on LibCom and the ICC site) to try to do this, to build an explanation of 'value' in simple terms, but it seems to be frowned upon by those who claim to have understood Marx's ideas, that there should be an 'easy way' given to newer comrades rather than by the 'hard labour' they've obviously put in, over years, to come to an understanding.
    Quote:
    Value. A social relationship between people which expresses itself as a material relationship between things. The value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary abstract labour time needed for its production and reproduction. Price is the monetary expression of value.

    Value can either be thought of as the socially necessary labour embodied in a commodity or, as social relations are mediated through commodieties, command over labour (See Rubin for the latter).As distinct from "use-value" and "exchange-value"Simples?

    #99432
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    Yeah, I think you're right, ajj. Most people become Communists because of influences from family and friends, I think.

    Well for me it it was at least partially through reading the Situationists and one of those Marx compilations from penguin books…

    #99433
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    Quote:
    Value. A social relationship between people which expresses itself as a material relationship between things. The value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary abstract labour time needed for its production and reproduction. Price is the monetary expression of value.

    Value can either be thought of as the socialy necessary labour embodied in a commodity or, as social relations are mediated through commodieties, command over labour (See Rubin for the latter).As distinct from "use-value" and "exchange-value"Simples?

    If you say that to workers, they don't reply "Ah, yeah, simples, I understand 'value' now!"IMO, explanations have to come in a form that the student is already familiar with, so that they can build the new concept/idea onto something that they already understand.Using unfamiliar terms/concepts like 'socially necessary labour', 'commodity', 'social relations', 'use-value' and 'exchange-value' (all meaningless words/phrases to most workers) to explain what 'value' means, doesn't work.Capital was written 150 years ago, and it seems to be impossible to get Communists to actually explain what it means. It doesn't matter how many times I stress 'explain', the response is always to repeat terms that themselves need explaining.BTW, DJP, this isn't aimed at you – I know you're trying to help – but is aimed at us all. We are not explaining. As I've said, your reseponse is depressingly familiar. Everyone does this – they repeat what Marx said, but don't explain what it means.For all the good it does, we might as well use the German original as 'explanation'. Or the Russian version.Here's a link to the last time I tried to explain value. My hesitant attempts to get a group of Communists to discuss a way of explaining 'value', in terms that workers unfamiliar with Marx's language could follow, soon ran into the sand. And it wasn't the first time: LibCom was the same.http://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/derek-lorenz/6074/capital-best-way-read-itIt's my opinion that our irrelevance will remain the same, until we explain our ideas (as opposed to merely repeating Marx's incomprehensible attempts).

    #99434
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    Here's a link to the last time I tried to explain value. My hesitant attempts to get a group of Communists to discuss a way of explaining 'value', in terms that workers unfamiliar with Marx's language could follow, soon ran into the sand. And it wasn't the first time: LibCom was the same.http://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/derek-lorenz/6074/capital-best-way-read-it

    Thanks for that. It is an interesting approach you suggest but I think it unecessarily complicates things, especially at an early stage. I think comment 21 in that thread sums up my personal feeling about that quite well…

    #99435
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    mcolome1 wrote:
    On volume one of capital Marx said that some sectors of the working class were reading it, and now most of the workers are reading comics books.

    I think that this is a myth, mcolome1. Don't forget, Marx also thought that he had written a book which was comprehensible to workers. Anyone who's tried to read the first three chapters of Capital knows that that opinion is incorrect. Most academics with years of philosophical, political and economic training can't make head nor tail of it. We Communists still need to make it accessible to workers.During the 19th century, many workers couldn't even read: some of my ancestors then signed their wedding certificates with a cross, because they were illiterate. As a young man, I never met anyone who had read any Marx, never mind Capital. In my opinion, more workers now know something of Marx, than in the past. It's still a very small percentage, of course, but far higher than in the 19th and throughout the 20th century. Most workers who had read Marx during that period where under the influence of Stalinism or Maoism, which both misinterpreted Marx to the point that their so-called 'Marxism-Leninism' was worthless, as the collapse of the Eastern Bloc showed. During the 1990 anti-Poll Tax campaign, I met 'Marxists' who argued that Ceausescu was on the right track, and that workers left to their own devices would just steal and destroy everything around them. Better to have continued to read 'comic books' than to believe this sort of anti-working class nonsense, comrade!Perhaps I would go so far as to say that, for the first time, Marx is on the agenda of workers (even though still far too few). But perhaps even that statement is wilful dreaming. We have a long way to go.

     Your personal experience, and probably the experiences of others members of the party is different to mine, and I do not think that the  statement of Marx is a myth, unless he was  a liar, and when I started to read Marx and Engels I discovered a new world of thoughts, although most of the peoples were reading Lenin and Mao. In some way we risked  our own life in order to become part of this movement, right or wrong, it was the only path that we found. Like Hegel said: You have to go through the pain and the suffering to obtain the knowledgeAt the present time my only regret is, that I did not know  about the existence of the  World Socialist Movement when I was very young, but in our life we never traveled on a straight road, but I found what I was looking for, and I will stay traveling  in this road until I die. The problem with the WSM is that they concentrated all their educational program to the European world, and after I joined the SP I was able to translate several documents/articles/and pamphlets to the Spanish language. In my younger years I met several  workers who have read Capital, and they were not intellectuals, and I read Volume one when I was a very young person, and it was a book that was discussed among us. We were thirsty for knowledge, and my grandfather bought for me a shortwave radio, and I was able to listen to Tirana and Moscow radio news and commentaries, and my grandfather who did not have too much academic education,  he knew that the Soviet Union was not a socialist country, and he was not a communist, he was a business person like my father and my mother.We were not watching TV, our hobby was reading, and I have spent  more times  reading about socialists ideas than in my own academic profession, because that is my first love, and I acquired that habits when I was very young, and I was influenced by others peoples to do that, it was like a sane  competition among us. That is our prideThose years are already dead, and when  I look back I get sad, because young peoples are not reading. libraries are empties, and bookstores have been closed,  I attended to an university that Capital was part of the curriculum of the school of economics,  and it was motivated by the students because the university was controlled by the students, Harvey at NYU was not the first professor to teach Capital to his students, and within the American society that is almost like a miracle, for us, it was very   normal situation due to the fact that several university teachers were part of the movementThe first study group that I belonged was  conducted by a Tailor and he had already read Volume one, and the book did not belong to him, he borrowed from another person. I was able to see mimeographed copies of Capital, but Engels was more popular than MarxThe first pamphlets of Engels an Marx were given to me by  a shoeshiner who was a member of a political organization,, and in that period of my life I was studying with the Salessian and Jesuit fathers, and there were religious individuals who liked to read Marx or EngelsSometimes workers used  to carry communist  literature inside of a  magazine of pornography, or they had lose pages of a particular bookThe reason why I have the whole collection of works of Marx and Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Trotsky,  is because we wanted to learn about them, and it was something that we learned since we were very young.Progress publisher and China International publishers were charging a small fees for their books, and every Saturday I used  to go and buy a book or a pamphlet. I have lived and traveled  different countries as a tourist, or for international congress,  and I have seen  different levels of political knowledge within  the members of the working class and the young peoples, and I have seen that workers from the so called third world countries have had more desire to  learn about communist ideas than the workers from the so called advanced countries

    #99436
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    DJP wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Here's a link to the last time I tried to explain value. My hesitant attempts to get a group of Communists to discuss a way of explaining 'value', in terms that workers unfamiliar with Marx's language could follow, soon ran into the sand. And it wasn't the first time: LibCom was the same.http://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/derek-lorenz/6074/capital-best-way-read-it

    Thanks for that. It is an interesting approach you suggest but I think it unecessarily complicates things, especially at an early stage. I think comment 21 in that thread sums up my personal feeling about that quite well…

     Raya Dunayeskaya also has a much better and simpler  outline to study Capital. Intelletuals like to complicate things, Simplicity is the key for learning, and we learn when we are able to express in our own words what  we have read, or what we have digested in our minds, it is something that I learned from the pedagogist Eugenio Maria de HostosI remembered that several years ago, Comrade Alban told me that I had read Feuerbach from second sources, and he was right, and when I recognized my mistake, I started to read him directly from the original sources, therefore, those outlines are not so helpfull. We must make our own outlinesNobody becomes a doctor or a lawyer during the first day of class, or through osmosis, you have to go through a long process, and ideas come to our minds in a disorganized way,  and we must organize them, they come inside of our minds in  the same manner that pictures come inside of a camera. When I came to the WSM forum  I thought I knew everything, but I had to relearn again, and I did not need any outline, I had the desire to learn something knew, and I spent long hours reading our website, and I read  by topics, or by themes, and I am still learning. That is one of the problem that we have encountered at the WSM forum that learners wanted to be teachers, I was a hunter, and I never saw a wild pigeon, and a wild chicken shooting back to my shot gunSeveral years ago I met a worker of the General Motors who knew Capital  Vol. 1, and 3, and he was able to explain it  in his own words, in a very simple way  ( he used to call  himself a peasant, or a hill billy ) and he had a profound knowledge about economics, and I learned many things from him, I had more academic knowledge than him, but he knew more than me about others ideas. He was the editor of a newspaper, and he was not an intellectual.All these experiences show that What is to be done ? of Lenin is totally incorrect

    #99437
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Is this the sort of thing people here have in mind:http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/31/ask-grown-up-pocket-moneyOr they could get together to establish free access and so the need for money and bringing about the end of value (real revolutionary socialism).

    #99438
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Here's a link to the last time I tried to explain value. My hesitant attempts to get a group of Communists to discuss a way of explaining 'value', in terms that workers unfamiliar with Marx's language could follow, soon ran into the sand. And it wasn't the first time: LibCom was the same.http://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/derek-lorenz/6074/capital-best-way-read-it

    Thanks for that. It is an interesting approach you suggest but I think it unecessarily complicates things, especially at an early stage. I think comment 21 in that thread sums up my personal feeling about that quite well…

    Yeah, to me (alone, apparently!), it seems that to describe a watch, containing watch components in the correct relationship, that allows us to 'tell the time', is an easy way to start to understand 'value'.That is, only when the components of a structure are put together in a specific inter-relationship does that structure produce an emergent property.Or, when the parts of a telly are left lying around on the floor, they don't allow us to watch TV programmes. Or, a castle (with its defence capabilities) is 'bricks, mortar and a drawbridge' built in a certain geographic location which allows the king to dominate his land.This seems a good didactic approach to me, and allows us Communists to begin to explain social stuctures and socio-economic concepts, like Marx's 'value'. But, as with 'comment 21 in that thread', you and LoneLondoner (and many others) disagree with me.All I can say in reply, is that we Communists are not getting our message across to the working class. Marx has been dead 130 years, and most proletarians don't know anything about 'capitalism', never mind 'value'. One way to explain this is to say that 'it's all too difficult for workers to understand, and it should be left to those who have the time and energy to study Capital'. But it seems to me that this leads to the Leninist conception of consciousness, organisation and revolution. Surely the SPGB, which stresses the need for the widest democratic control by workers, should be looking for a way to explain these issues to workers?Simply repeating Marx's words does not work, as a method.

    #99439
    moderator1
    Participant

    Reminder:  Rule 1. The general topic of each forum is given by the posted forum description. Do not start a thread in a forum unless it matches the given topic, and do not derail existing threads with off-topic posts.

    #99440
    DJP
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Just to clarify that the LTFRP cannot predict a crisis for i always assumed a cause of a crisis can only be assigned in retrospect…i.e we can only view the cause of a crisis in a rear view mirror as someone once put it.

    If you're looking for predictions in the sense of when, where and for how long then no

    Tim Harford wrote:
    Prediction is very difficult. John Maynard Keynes (yet another genius, different character to Maynard Smith)… John Maynard Keynes, the father of macroeconomics, once said that it would be splendid if economists could get themselves thought of as a humble useful profession such as dentists. I think that’s very quotable, but also he’s onto something there. We don’t expect dentists to forecast how many teeth we’re going to have at the age of 75. That’s not what you think of dentistry as being about. That may suggest we don’t fully understand the human mouth and teeth, but it wouldn’t be the first place that we would demand an improvement. Instead, what we want from dentistry is “can you give us good advice on how to prevent our teeth falling out or how to prevent toothache, and if we do have a problem, can you help us fix the problem”? That’s what you expect from a dentist. I think that’s what we should expect from economists – not forecasts, but good advice about how the economy works and how to fix problems when they arise. I think economists don’t necessarily stand up to either of those standards, but the forecasting standard, I think, in a very complex world, is not a very helpful one.
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