Thread: Marx theoretical questions

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  1. #1
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    Default Marx theoretical questions

    I have been reading up on marx recently and i got some questions i hope you could answer.

    1. Is the rate of profit actually continuously falling still? I often hear that "marx was wrong on profit falling" but I would like your perspective on it.

    2. Marx said that the gap between the poor and the rich would keep on increasing. However it has decreased for a considerable amount of time (and is now increasing again). I suspect that it decreased because of wider class-consciousness and because the bourgeouise kept wages higher to take wind from the sails of socialists. Now class-consciousness or any serious left-wing movement seems to be largely faded away and there is more chance for wage shrinking. i hear Liberals say that the increase in productivity made it possible to increase wages and that somehow the prductivity now does not allow for higher wages. What is your perspective on that?

    3. How does modern scarcity of food in third world countries arise. I know that they don't have the buying power to import food and it is more profitable for capitalists in third world countries to export food to the West, but i am looking for some 'deeper' dynamic. Like an actualy marxistic analysis. I realise this question is a bit vague but i have trouble clarifying it.

    4. And, even though this might seem like some liberal bullshit argument; "How does communism protect against free-loaders?". My response to it is that Socialism will prepare the consciousness of everyone so they acknowledge that working together is better for everyone and that at that moment we can build communism without state. However i feel that this explanation is a bit unsatisfactory because i don't know if you can really mold people like that.

    Thanks in advance for your response and let me know if i have to explain what im asking if it is too vague.
    "I am vegan because I have compassion for animals; I see them as beings possessed of value not unlike humans. I am an anarchist because I have that same compassion for humans, and because I refuse to settle for compromised perspectives, half-assed strategies and sold-out objectives. As a radical, my approach to animal and human liberation is without compromise: total freedom for all, or else."

    "It takes no more time to be a vegetarian than to eat animal flesh.... When non-vegetarians say ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for humans that compels them to continue to support the wasteful ruthless, exploitation of farm animals."
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    1) It's important here to recognize that Marx often studied the two most influential economists of his time; Adam Smith and David Ricardo. These two were not only the original sourcing for the TRPF, but also the division of labour and the LTV. The TRPF is often misused by its critics, but yes the rate of profit on a large scale is decreasing. This is supported by cases such as McDonald's, which is immensely profitable, yet it only makes a very minuscule profit off of individual transactions. Perhaps the graph I found could also help.



    2)The gap between rich and poor was only lessened during Capitalism's birth, as most of the future industrialists were considered lower class when compared to the aristocrats and gentry of their time. That being said, I don't see a long-term correlation between class-consciousness and the lessening of income inequality. It is an inherent contradiction of Capitalism that the accumulation of capital will drift towards the top whilst the lower class stagnates or gets more poor.

    3) This is indeed rather vague, but perhaps I can be of help. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die a day due to extreme poverty, with all but a handful of these happening within underdeveloped countries. This does not necessarily address the issue of food scarcity, but it may give you some idea.

    4) I am a bit confused by this question. Socialism is inherently the establishment of proletariat rule. Production for capital accumulation will be abolished, as well as bourgeois ideology. This, inherently, provides no question of "What about the free-loaders?" Could you perhaps elaborate?

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    Also, it is good to note that Marx's writings on the TRPF is considered incomplete, as well as difficult to test, meaning that it is hard to prove or disprove. I did, however, find this second graph which supports the TRPF, in which profit rates were taken from multiple industrial nations from tax information and other sources of historical data.
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    4. And, even though this might seem like some liberal bullshit argument; "How does communism protect against free-loaders?". My response to it is that Socialism will prepare the consciousness of everyone so they acknowledge that working together is better for everyone and that at that moment we can build communism without state. However i feel that this explanation is a bit unsatisfactory because i don't know if you can really mold people like that.

    For whatever it's worth, I happen to be of the position that 'freeloaders', during and after a worldwide proletarian revolution, would not really be a material issue -- depending, of course, on actual prevailing social conditions then.

    It's easy to forget the material *leveraging* of human labor power -- of whatever kind -- that exists due to the utility of *machinery* as an integral part of the modern industrial mass-productive process. (Of course the hegemonic bourgeois culture doesn't *mention* this productive prowess, either.)

    Perhaps a *better* way of conceptualizing this productive-capacity dynamic is to ask 'Should everyone be working only for themselves (and possibly for their families, too), or should productive work be fully voluntary so that the use-values benefit *society*, to the greatest extents possible -- ?

    This reframing of the social-production perspective shows what a *socialist* paradigm would enable: It would hew towards the fulfillment of collective *human need*, and not towards the balancing of exchange-value-based financial balance sheets.

    If those who wanted to work for humanity *did* that, and those who wanted to 'freeload' did *that*, I'd argue that it would all balance-out materially (in use-values) because of the massive material-productive leveraging of human labor due to the use of machinery (factories).

    The very real possibility of protracted class-war battles with the bourgeoisie, though, means that warfare *could* take a real toll and *obligate* political mass-participation on the side of the working class.

    I have created a more-elaborate political-economy *framework* that may provide a better-detailed layout of worker-collectivist logistical possibilities:


    Labor credits Frequently Asked Questions

    https://www.revleft.space/vb/threads...sked-Questions
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    Thanks to you both, I feel like question 1 has been answered really well. Questions 3 is too vague and i will have to think about it more so i can put into words exactly what i mean. Thanks for your answers.

    Regarding question 2, i looked into it some more and i realized that the gap between rich and poor is increasing and was increasing even when i thought it wasnt. So that solves that question.

    And on question 4; I mean what if a person decides to not work under communism, will he still be able to get his needs met by the labor of other workers? I know that now labor is simply for more capital accumulation and that all workers will get the use-value of their labor, but there would always have to be some work done right? And this work has to be done by the workers, how will one ensure that everyone contributes equally? Peter Singer has an example in his Very Short Introduction to Marx about how it would be better if everyone took the bus instead of the car. But if everyone took the bus one person could decide to take the car and be somewhere quicker. What should society do about this, Peter Singer proposes that you can't trust on everyone to pick what is right for the community, kind of like a prisoners dilemma. One way to solve this would be to force everyone to work at least X hours. I think it would be fair to make someone work X hours so he can benefit from society's productivity at large.
    I went of on a tangent here and i also read chaihatsu's response. With both these things i am convinced that in a communist society there would not be much issue with free-loaders at all. Do you know what a smart and concise way to respond to a person questioning this aspect of communism could be? Like when a liberal friend brings it up.

    Again thanks for your responses, it really helped!

    edit: another question, more practical; what do you guys/girls think is a good way to agitate for socialism. I used to work in a factory, not anymore, and am now in college. I feel like outside of factories there is not a good way to raise class-consciousness because I feel like workers might just view me as an outsider arrogant prick talking down on them or something like that.
    "I am vegan because I have compassion for animals; I see them as beings possessed of value not unlike humans. I am an anarchist because I have that same compassion for humans, and because I refuse to settle for compromised perspectives, half-assed strategies and sold-out objectives. As a radical, my approach to animal and human liberation is without compromise: total freedom for all, or else."

    "It takes no more time to be a vegetarian than to eat animal flesh.... When non-vegetarians say ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for humans that compels them to continue to support the wasteful ruthless, exploitation of farm animals."
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    1. The rate of profit does not continuously fall; while there is a tendency for it to fall, there are counteracting tendencies for it to rise. See the above graph - there are numerous upticks in it. But yes, the tendency exists. Competition favors anyone who can produce at a lower cost - if a capitalist can reinvest at a higher rate in new technologies, they will have a competitive advantage. However, this will just become the new norm as competitors follow suit or go out of business. Prices will soon reflect the lower cost of production (since each worker now has higher productivity). The costs of production then tend to increasingly reflect fixed capital rather than human input.

    Originally Posted by Karl Marx
    Capital itself is the moving contradiction, in that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth. Hence it diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition – question of life or death – for the necessary.
    2. It's a little more complicated than that - there are structural limits to what wages can be, such as the rate of profit. I don't believe Marx really said that capitalism would always increase the gap between rich and poor so much as now that some things encouraged that, while other counteracted it. Do you have a specific passage in mind?

    3. capitalism has always demanded a surplus population, abjected from the normal labor- capital relation, to act as a downward pressure to keep wages low. The origin of the proletariat is this exact condition. For example, in the English countryside, peasants were driven off their lands and common lands enclosed/fenced off and the former tenants driven into the cities, desperate for work, whatever they can get. With rising productivity, we see the other side of the coin of a falling rate of profit - layoffs and unemployment, as increased productivity results from reinvestment (which results from competition). A factory owner who can threaten to replace striking workers with lower paid workers will have a much easier time than one who has no other options to get production going again. With transportation costs at an all time low, capitalists can now move across the planet if they need to, as long as they keep a certain part of the world in poverty.

    4. Communism doesn't protect against free- loaders. There is no coercive authority, and no "work" in the modern sense of it. The wealth of communism is free time and meaningful relationships, not the alienated commodities we produce, and not the alienated people we make ourselves to be by making them. Despite what other people have written, communism is the abolition of the proletarian condition, not its generalization. Free-loading is a necessary condition of a free society. What we currently know as "work" - the productive activity that reproduces our lives - must be radically transformed so as not to be a burden, but a pleasure, and drastically reduced in favor of free activity.
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    And on question 4; I mean what if a person decides to not work under communism, will he still be able to get his needs met by the labor of other workers? I know that now labor is simply for more capital accumulation and that all workers will get the use-value of their labor, but there would always have to be some work done right? And this work has to be done by the workers, how will one ensure that everyone contributes equally?

    Again, I have to note that this 'make all work equal' is a *skewed* and *distorting* principle, not to mention that it would be more *logistical* trouble than it's worth, imo.

    Basically, what I'm 'seeing' is that the working principle *should* be 'Production for human need', with all *other* approaches -- like 'Rewards for labor', or 'Equal work from everyone' being both *contrived* and also distorting efforts away from the fulfillment of unmet human need.



    Peter Singer has an example in his Very Short Introduction to Marx about how it would be better if everyone took the bus instead of the car. But if everyone took the bus one person could decide to take the car and be somewhere quicker. What should society do about this, Peter Singer proposes that you can't trust on everyone to pick what is right for the community, kind of like a prisoners dilemma. One way to solve this would be to force everyone to work at least X hours. I think it would be fair to make someone work X hours so he can benefit from society's productivity at large.

    The *problem* with this, though, is that you're showing yourself to be willing to reintroduce *authority* and risk mismanagement, for the sake of dividing-up people's parcels of work nice-and-neatly. What if there is a pressing social need for some work roles -- say in medicine -- that are simply not available from the workforce -- ?

    If that were the case (scarcity of liberated labor), then it *wouldn't even matter* about people's 'even' work inputs when some crucial work roles are simply not being done by *anyone*.



    I went of on a tangent here and i also read chaihatsu's response. With both these things i am convinced that in a communist society there would not be much issue with free-loaders at all. Do you know what a smart and concise way to respond to a person questioning this aspect of communism could be? Like when a liberal friend brings it up.

    I would say that society would most-likely continue to be complex, with no need for everyone to move in 'lockstep'. Some people will be intrinsically more motivated to work for the common good than others, and that's okay. I don't think a pure egalitarianism can be achieved in the realm of work, nor should it be a societal goal / objective, for the reasons stated above.

    That said, though, I do have a comprehensive approach to a post-capitalist, communist-type political economy that addresses all complicated-dynamics / 'loose ends' -- relevant excerpts are here:



    communist supply & demand -- Model of Material Factors

    communist administration -- All assets and resources will be collectivized as communist property in common -- their use must be determined through a regular political process of prioritized demands from a locality or larger population -- any unused assets or resources may be used by individuals in a personal capacity only

    labor [supply] -- Only active workers may control communist property -- no private accumulations are allowed and any proceeds from work that cannot be used or consumed by persons themselves will revert to collectivized communist property

    labor [supply] -- Labor credits are paid per hour of work at a multiplier rate based on difficulty or hazard -- multipliers are survey-derived

    labor [supply] -- Work positions are created according to requirements of production runs and projects, by mass political prioritization

    labor [supply] -- All workers will be entirely liberated from all coercion and threats related to basic human living needs, regardless of work status -- any labor roles will be entirely self-selected and open to collective labor organizing efforts on the basis of accumulated labor credits

    labor [supply] -- Workers with past accumulated labor credits are the funders of new work positions and incoming laborers -- labor credits are handed over at the completion of work hours -- underfunded projects and production runs are debt-based and will be noted as such against the issuing locality

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