Workers create all the “wealth” (SPGB, SWP) or “value” (CPGB)?

August 2022 Forums General discussion Workers create all the “wealth” (SPGB, SWP) or “value” (CPGB)?

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  • #81041
    jondwhite
    Participant

    I was listening to the CPGB podcast on the SWP last week (http://cpgb.podbean.com/2011/12/19/swp-internal-bulletin/) and in at the end they said that following their suggestion that the SWP is wrong to say “workers create all the wealth”, the SWP have amended it to “value”. SPGB Declaration of Principles Clause 1 suggests workers create all the wealth, should this read “value” instead?

    #87547
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    jondwhite wrote:
    I was listening to the CPGB podcast on the SWP last week (http://cpgb.podbean.com/2011/12/19/swp-internal-bulletin/) and in at the end they said that following their suggestion that the SWP is wrong to say “workers create all the wealth”, the SWP have amended it to “value”. SPGB Declaration of Principles Clause 1 suggests workers create all the wealth, should this read “value” instead?

     Wealth and value are inseparable within capitalist society.Wealth is a product of human labour, acting upon nature-given materials, that is capable of satisfying needs. This identifies wealth with use-value. But capitalism is a society where wealth becomes a commodity having exchange value also, and sometimes only a socially-bounded use-value that is peculiar to capitalism.Value is 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.The labour theory of value explains how wealth is produced and distributed under capitalism, and how the working class is exploited. Human labour power applied to nature-given materials is the source of most wealth. The wealth produced, however, belongs not to the workers but to those who own and control the means of wealth production and distribution (land, factories, offices, etc.). Wealth production under capitalism generally takes the form of commodities produced for sale at a profit.For more information on this and related subjects see:-http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/education/z-marxism

    #87548
    ALB
    Keymaster

    The “CPGB” of course  is no more the old CP than Militant is us (they too are name stealers) and you have to listen to 8 minutes of how they would love to infilitrate the SWP before you get to the criticism of the statement on “What the SWP stands for” that is published in every issue of Socialist Worker.This begins :

    Quote:
    The workers create all wealth under capitalism.

    The “CPGB” speaker says that this conflicts with Marx’s opening criticism of the Gotha Programme adopted by the German Social Democrats in 1875 that:

    Quote:
    Labour is the source of all wealth and all culture.

    Marx comments:

    Quote:
    Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only a manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power.

    Actually, this is not a criticism of the SWP statement nor of the what we say in Clause 1 of our declaration of principles where we talk of “the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced”. Marx’s criticism was that the statement he criticised did not explicitly state that labour worked with and on materials that came from Nature to priduce wealth (personally, I think he’s nit-picking a bit here, even if he’s right). He wrote:

    Quote:
    The above phrase … is correct in so far as it is implied that labour is performed with the appurtenant subjects and instruments … And in so far as man from the beginning behaves towards nature, the primary source of all instruments and subjects of labour, as an owner, treats her as belonging to him, his labour becomes the source of use values, therefore also of wealth.

    In other words, in any society  wealth is only produced by work and, under capitalism, it’s the work of the appropriately called working class that produces the wealth.Value is the form wealth takes under capitalism where there is production for the market with a view to profit (which is why it won’t exist in socialism) and is equally only created by the labour of the working class. As it’s a rather technical term in economics I don’t think it would be a good idea to change to change “wealth” to “value” in Clause 1.

    #87549
    DJP
    Participant

    At the risk of repeating some that has been said above…In capitalist society workers, in acting on the materials provided by nature produce all the wealth of society, yet not all workers actually produce ‘value’.It gets rather technical here, some sectors do not directly produce ‘value’ but siphon it off from other value producing sectors. This is not to say that the labour of non-value producing sectors is useful (though some of it may only be useful in the context of a capitalist system). In common usage the word ‘value’ means something different than it does in the Marxian sense.It is also worth noting that (intrinsic) ‘value’ and ‘exchange-value’ are not the same thing. To also further complicate things, as far as I know Marx did not use the term ‘labour theory of value’ to describe his theory, the labour theory of value really belongs to Smith and Ricardo. Some people think that Marx’s theory implies that commodities exchange at their ‘value’ equivalents according to necessary labour time, in fact this is what Ricardo not Marx claimed.If I’ve got it right Marx’s theory would not hold IF commodities exchange at value, in a capitalist society they generally exchange at price of production + average rate of profit, which is what Marx said. Marx’s theory is more to do with how labour is regulated in an economy governed by the law of value.Wealth and value are not the same thing, like as has been said a non-market economy would be governed by need, not socially necessary labour time.Clear? As mud

    #87550
    Brian
    Participant

    So where does use value fit in if there is no wealth produced in a needs based economy?

    #87551
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Of course wealth (useful things fashioned from materials that originally came from nature) will continue to exist in socialism. It’s only exchange value that won’t exist (won’t come into existence since wealth will no longer be produced to be bought and sold). Wealth and use-values are the same or, rather, wealth is made up of use-values.The thing about use-value is that it is subjective in that what is considered (valued as) useful by one person or group of persons is not necessarily so considered by another person or group and so can’t be measured in a common unit in  the way that exchange value can.Socialist society will have to decide what it is useful (what use values) to produce and then individuals can decide what is useful to them and take this from the distribution centres without the goods (use-values) being priced and without having to hand over money or use a card.

    #87552
    Brian
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Of course wealth (useful things fashioned from materials that originally came from nature) will continue to exist in socialism. It’s only exchange value that won’t exist (won’t come into existence since wealth will no longer be produced to be bought and sold). Wealth and use-values are the same or, rather, wealth is made up of use-values.The thing about use-value is that it is subjective in that what is considered (valued as) useful by one person or group of persons is not necessarily so considered by another person or group and so can’t be measured in a common unit in  the way that exchange value can.Socialist society will have to decide what it is useful (what use values) to produce and then individuals can decide what is useful to them and take this from the distribution centres without the goods (use-values) being priced and without having to hand over money or use a card.

    Quite so.  But I was hoping Darren would reply to my question because it appears he’s assuming that a needs based society will not be producing wealth or value through default.  In regards to use-values being subjective and therefore not capable of being measured into a common unit I have to disagree.  What about  the calculation in kind solution being used has a form of measuring use-value?  Roughly speaking that is because I have no desire to get into a discussion on whether or not its necessary to calculate the entire resources of the planet in detail.  

    #87553
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Brian wrote:
    In regards to use-values being subjective and therefore not capable of being measured into a common unit I have to disagree.  What about  the calculation in kind solution being used has a form of measuring use-value?

    Of course different quantities of the same use-value can be compared in a single unit, whether that be number, weight, volume or whatever. What cannot be compared in a single unit are, for instance, steel (tonnes) and electricity (killowatt hours).Calculation in kind  will be calculation of the various use-values used (or useable) in production, but in their specific units, not in a common unit such as value and money as under capitalism. As a matter of fact calculation in kind (ie in use values) already occurs under capitalism, only it is duplicated by calculation in money. In socialism we will dispense will calculation in money and calculate in kind and make decisions on what to produce and how on this basis.

    #87554
    DJP
    Participant
    Brian wrote:
    But I was hoping Darren would reply to my question because it appears he’s assuming that a needs based society will not be producing wealth or value through default.

    Sorry Brian, I think you’re getting confused somewhere. I said:

    Quote:
    Wealth and value are not the same thing, like as has been said a non-market economy would be governed by need, not socially necessary labour time.

    ‘Value’ in the Marxian sense is the amount of abstract socially necessary labour time represented in a commodity.Wealth, is any use-value. So to say that a needs based society would not produce wealth is a like saying a needs based society would produce square circles, it’s a logical contradiction. That’s not what I said.Watch my talk here

    #87555
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Thanks for your replies. Posted yesterday, there’s some more details at 3 minutes 30 seconds in at http://cpgb.podbean.com/2012/01/16/swp-conference/

    #87556
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Reluctant as I am to defend the SWP I have to say that the “CPGB”‘s criticism of them on this is very petty. To say that “the workers create all wealth under capitalism” is not all that bad and misleading. Only work creates wealth (ie transforms parts of nature into something useful to humans) and this is as true under capitalism as under any other form of society. So the SWP statement is basically correct.The “CPGB” claim that this ignores nature and their speaker gives a garbled version of a quote that Marx used from the 17th century economic writer Sir William Petty about calling “labour the father and earth the mother of wealth”. Apparently this is what the “CPGB” would like the opening words of the SWP’s “What We Stand For” statement to be.What Marx wrote, in the opening pages of Capital, was:

    Quote:
    When man engages in production, he can only proceed as nature does herself, i.e. he can only change the form of the materials. Furthermore, even in this work of modification he is constantly helped by natural forces. Labour is therefore not the only source of material wealth, i.e of the use-values it produces. As William Petty says, labour is the father of material wealth, the earth is its mother.

    The “CPGB” are playing on the difference between labour “creating” wealth and labour “being the source” of wealth. The SWP statement does not say (as the Gotha Programme did and which Marx criticised for it doing so) that labour is the source of wealth but only that it creates, or produces, it.What Petty actually wrote was (Marx must have been quoting from memory):

    Quote:
    Labour is the Father and active principle of Wealth, as Lands are the Mother.

    Which is even stronger than what Marx remembered him saying to back up the view that all wealth results from work (on nature-given materials). It also refutes the “CPGB”‘s speaker’s view that nature is more important than labour in the creation of wealth because a mother does more than a father in the creation of babies. They seem to have gone all Green by giving more importance to Mother Earth than to the Working Class.The new SWP formulation that “under capitalism workers’ labour creates all profit” is not wrong either.

    #87557
    J Surman
    Participant

    Re the SWP – or more particularly the New Zealand Workers Organisation, I’ve just seen this link which says they are moving away from Trotsky to ecosocialism.http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/climateandcapitalism/pEtD/~3/anLSwmZ50s0/I’d be interested in feedback, not that it makes any difference to us per se – but what does the SWP make of it?(By the way Gnome – sorry if you have to copy and paste the link, for some reason my browser insists i perform a 2-part operation, which I meekly do!)

    #87558
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Interesting. I see from following your link that as long ago as 2007 this NZ organisation’s What We Stand For started:

    Quote:
    Profit, the fuel of capitalism, flows from the dual exploitation of labour and nature

    Maybe this is what the “CPGB” would like the SWP here to adopt? In any event, it is wrong. Profit arises from the exploitation of labour. No doubt capitalism mistreats nature but this is not the same sense of “exploitation”.”Exploitation” is not the same as mistreatment. Even if workers are not mistreated at work, eg by bullying foremen or dangerous working conditions, they are still exploited in the Marxian sense.To come back to JonDWhite’s original point about “wealth” and “value”, workers under capitalism produce wealth (from and with materials that originally came from nature) in the form of value, but only get paid the value of their labour power (their working skills) not the value of what they produce. The difference is surplus value, ie  they produce more value than the are paid for. That is the sense in which they are exploited. Nature contributes nothing to the creation of value (as opposed to wealth) and so not to profits (which derive from labour-produced surplus value alone).

    #87559
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Just thought. I wonder what our comrades in the WSP(NZ) think of this.

    #87560
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    J Surman wrote:
    Re the SWP – or more particularly the New Zealand Workers Organisation, I’ve just seen this link which says they are moving away from Trotsky to ecosocialism.http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/climateandcapitalism/pEtD/~3/anLSwmZ50s0/(By the way Gnome – sorry if you have to copy and paste the link, for some reason my browser insists i perform a 2-part operation, which I meekly do!)

     Link performed superbly JS :)    BTW, I take it you read the full article here:-http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2012/01/towards-ecosocialism.html

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