What is value?

April 2024 Forums General discussion What is value?

Viewing 15 posts - 106 through 120 (of 132 total)
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  • #106159
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Much better

    #106160
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    The original question was 'How do we explain value?' Detroit does not explain value (and there are factors other than value involved, geographic, constitutional and cultural, I'd suggest, to Detroit's destruction).

    Yes, but the explanation being made is not "the complexities of Detroit's destruction", but "why workers should fear and reject value".To follow your method would be to reject any metaphorical explanations (like comparing 'value' to a 'social acid'), whose purpose is to explain complex theories, concepts and proposed practices.To me, the didactic worth of a metaphor or analogy outweighs the obvious failings if the explanation is taken too literally. Of course, opponents of Communism have a political and ideological reason to encourage 'literal' translations, so that an easier route, into the complexities of the issues, is blocked.Perhaps the explanation of 'value' as a 'social acid' will enlighten other workers to the dangers of 'value' (and thus money, markets and capitalism), and thus cause them to look deeper, perhaps even to take a look at Capital.And once the roots of 'value' in money and markets are understood, this will have a prophylatic effect of making the dangers of the blandishments of the so-called 'market socialists' apparent to any worker, who then comes across these views.I've got no problem with you continuing to try your methods, if you think they work; it's just that I don't think that they do work, and so I propose what I consider will prove to be better methods.Whichever works is fine by me; but if neither works, other workers are going to have to come up with one that does, because Communists have been failing workers for 150 years.

    #106161
    SocialistPunk
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    SP,no-one, AFAIK think's you're a shit stirrer, your question was met with an answer, is all. The minimum people need to understand is that a pile of money ina field doesn't grow like a plant.  Only human effort increases wealth, and the only way that someone can be relatively wealthy, that is having more wealth than can be produced by a single person working, is by taking control of the effort of others.  A lump of metal and a bit of wood are worth as much as a lump of metal and a stick of wood, but turn them into a hammer, and they are worth more than the metal and wood together.  That addition is effort.  It may or may not sell at that value: it might be a rip-off or a bargain, but we know if it is either that it has some worth other than what it sells for.A myth may help.  Imagine a society in which everyone has a similar set of skills.  They use these skills to make/find goods A to E.  Not everyone makes these objects, some make A and exchange with others, somoe make B, etc.  Each though could make the other objects, and they know both how much effort it would take them to make them and how long otehrs would take.  When exchanging, they take great care not to swap goods for objects that it would take less effort to get themselves than they have invested in the the thing they are swapping. Some people may have to put in more energy, or find some tasks harder in their minds and have to concentrate harder, but the others can't se that, all they can see is a rough output each per day.So, the people know that in terms of exchange A>B>C>D>E : that is, A is worth more than B, etc.  As with our chess pawns, since E is the least valuable, it becomes possible to express these relative worths in terms of E, i.e. E=1.  So D=2E, C=3.5E, etc.  so to get a fair swap of D's and C's you'd need to swap 7 D for 4 C's (or fractions to that equivilant).  Now, a certain number of hours of effort go into an E, but that doesn't enter into the bargain directly, goods are evauated in terms of the number of E's they are worth, and the relative human effort behind an E remains hidden, but it is there.

    Thanks YMS, much appreciated.This subject, for me at least, is similar to the world of theoretical physics, a very complicated world that is not easily understood. It takes a lot of reading and thought and then more reading and thought to get to grips with it. Even then I  find the concepts exist in a very nebulous state in my mind and often evaporate when I try to explain to others.My foray into this subject was to find out if the concept of value has a simple explanation that can be referred to if needed during discussion with non socialists. So far there isn't a simple explanation. Analogies can be used but they are themselves quite in depth.In my discussions with non socialists to date, I've stayed away from invoking Marxist theory (scientific usage of word). I'll probably continue to do so in the future, but those films from Kapitalism101 will, I expect, prove to be very valuable and who knows I might even give Das Kapital another go. Cheers.

    #106162
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    SocialistPunk wrote:
     It takes a lot of reading and thought and then more reading and thought to get to grips with it. Even then I  find the concepts exist in a very nebulous state in my mind and often evaporate when I try to explain to others.

     Your not alone there, cde I don't think it can be explained without simplification. Here is my attempt at an introduction and I know anyone who understands the theory can shoot holes in it but it is an over simplification: The world market consists of millions of commodities  being exchanged and every commodity has a price tag roughly determined by the cost of its  production (labour and matrials) and these costs determines the ratio of exchange.  Our wage is our price tag for our time and abilities.  The commodity purchassed with a 'wage' is a unique commodity in that it produces more than it costs. The surplus is taken by the capitalist class. 

    #106163
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    The world market consists of millions of commodities being exchanged and every commodity has a price tag roughly determined by the cost of its production (labour and matrials) and these costs determines the ratio of exchange. Our wage is our price tag for our time and abilities. The commodity purchassed with a 'wage' is a unique commodity in that it produces more than it costs. The surplus is taken by the capitalist class.

    That seems fine in itself, Vin, and I don't think we could argue with what it does say.But, we are talking politics, here, and so we need to address how we emphasise the point that I think your passage doesn't say.The whole point of political explanations (as opposed to detailed, academic, unsimplified ones) is to jolt workers out of their present ideology (free markets are good, money is good, etc.) and to get them to start thinking a bit more about the socio-economic consequences of markets and money.This, it seems to me, is where Marx's concept of 'value' comes in.If it's explained properly, it can form the ideological basis of an attempt to undermine markets and money. Once workers are familiar with the notion that commodities form a socio-economic structure, and that that structure of capitalism produces a social substance that is dangerous to workers, that is 'value', then we might start to make inroads into 'free markets equal freedom' ideology, which is so strong at present.Thus, the notion of 'value' as 'social acid' makes an instant impact, both as a 'truth' and as an explantion. It's a picturesque, even horrific, image.Anyone who can understand that things put together in a certain structure can produce emergent properties, and that this is just simple science and everyday experience, can understand 'value'.Put the bits of a car together properly and we have a car that goes.Put the lit match and inflammable petrol together and we have a fire that produces warmth.Put all the commodities together and we have an capitalist economy that produces social acid.It can't harm us to try both ways (simple economic explanations like yours and more striking metaphorical images like mine) to try to influence workers.It's just my opinion that your way has been tried for 150 years, and that it is making next to no impact with workers. This is not a criticism of you as a person or a socialist, Vin, but a criticism of a failed method, a method that is unfortunately widespread.We can tell that it's failing even within the SPGB, as on this very thread we've had members compare discussions of 'value' as akin to discussions of 'angels on a pinhead'.What should be a useful concept for Communists to help explain to workers 'how their lives really work', is proving, in the hands of us at present, to be of no use whatsoever. In the opinions of SPGB members, not just me.

    #106164
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Bit unfair, LBird. You did note my caveat?I take your point tho'  it is a little cold and 'economic'  but I am perhaps talking about someone already 'stirred up' about capitalism. 

    #106165
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    Bit unfair, LBird. You did note my caveat?I take your point tho'  it is a little cold and 'economic'  but I am perhaps talking about someone already 'stirred up' about capitalism. 

    Sorry, Vin, of course I took your point about an 'oversimplification', but I also said, for what it was, it was fine.My point, which was the one you 'got' anyway, was the necessity for 'explanation' to be also 'stirring up' as well as a 'simplification'.Emotional engagement, combined with intellectual curiosity, might get some more workers to look a little more closely at our ideas.If yours and YMS's less 'dramatic' explanations suddenly take root in the class, without my melodramic 'acid' ones, I'll be as happy as you.But, from my personal experience of reading Marx's works, and from what many other workers have told me, I don't think, what you've called 'cold and economic' explanations, really work.Whether my Critical Realist-inspired analogies work for others or not, I think that they've worked for me, and now find that I can at least make some explanation of 'value' to others, whereas, before my CR readings, I couldn't either understand 'value' myself or explain it to others.Of course, it's always possible that I don't know what I'm talking about, when it comes to 'value', but if that's true, then I don't think that I'll ever grasp its meaning for workers. I'm prepared to conclude that, if 'value' remains a mystery to me (as someone who has made constant attempts over the years to understand it), then Marx's Capital will be useless for most workers.

    #106166

    Shorter version.Value is soylent green.  Much better analogy.

    #106167
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    Shorter version.Value is soylent green.  Much better analogy.

    No problem, YMS.Just explain the bit how 'soylent green' explains why cars, walls, watches, water come about, and how that simple understanding of things in workers' day-to-day lives helps to then provide an introduction to understanding 'value'.Since, 'value as social acid' uses the concepts of Critical Realism, which is able to explain all the things that I've mentioned, what is the underlying explanation of 'soylent green' that is also applicable to cars, walls, value, etc.?

    #106168

    Soylent green is people.

    #106169
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    Soylent green is people.

    And…?I didn't ask what the film is about, but what is the underlying philosophical basis of 'soylent green', in your view, that allows us to explain day-to-day, simple experiences of workers, in the first place, as an inital step, and thus provide a basis for an explanation of something much less obvious, that is, the concept of 'value'?After all, if you think that the analogy of 'soylent green' does this better than 'social acid' and its basis in Critical Realism and wider explanations for workers, then you should be able to say why you think that.Otherwise, it seems to be just a mindless resistance to anything that I propose.God forbid that we'll see any of that, here.

    #106170

     Soylent green is people.  Value is soylent green.  Therefore value is people. We are consuming other people, value is cannibalism, when we consumer a car, a side of beef, a cotton shirt, we are not simply using those objects but also the labour of other human beings.  Seeing the people, the effort behind the object is the first step, and, I'd suggest, more effective than the erroneous notion of social acid (unless we want to say that commodities are a salt).

    #106171
    LBird
    Participant

    You still haven't answered my question.Forget it.

    #106172

    Well, I thought I was answering the question, care to reformulate?  Maybe I didn't understand it correctly.

    #106173
    LBird
    Participant

    All you've got to do is scroll up half-a-dozen posts so, no, I wouldn't care to 'reformulate' it.Don't bother, I've been down this road before.Seriously, forget it, YMS.

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