9. The Marxian Challenge


Prof: Okay, good morning.
We’re going to make the
transition today to talking about Marxism,
the second of the three Enlightenment traditions that
we’re going to consider in the first part of this course.
And I should warn you at the
outset that I have something of a heterodox view of Marx.
I have something of a heterodox
view of Marx in that if you went and read, for instance,
there’s a book by a man called Graeme Duncan
called Marx and Mill.
He basically,
his story line is that Marx and Mill operate with fundamentally
opposed paradigms, paradigms meaning foundational
assumptions, so that Marx and Mill make
completely incommensurable and incompatible assumptions about
how the world works, and the political theory that
can flow from those assumptions. And so to some extent they are,
he thinks on all the big questions, speaking past one
another. That they’re basically you
can’t adjudicate, if you like,
the disagreements between them in part because he thinks
they’re speaking from fundamentally opposed paradigms.
I think that view couldn’t be
more wrongheaded. Marx and Mill are creatures of
the Enlightenment, both, and therefore we will
find in examining Marx, that just like all of the
utilitarians we’ve already considered so far,
they’re both committed to basing politics on a scientific
theory of human association, and to committing themselves to
individual freedom as the basic and most important principle of
politics.
Now, so let’s,
before we get into the details of Marx’s own argument,
let’s say a few general things about Marx as an Enlightenment
thinker. And if we think about the
Enlightenment thinkers first of all as committed to science
there’s no question that Marx was committed to a scientific
theory of politics. If you read his attack on
Proudhon and the utopian socialists, for example,
it was all about attacking them for being unscientific in their
thinking. It was all about rejecting
sentimentalism or wishful thinking in trying to understand
what was feasible and what was not feasible in politics.
So Marx has a scientific
conception. Of course it doesn’t come
within a country mile of the scientific conceptions we saw
both among early Enlightenment theorists like Bentham,
or mature Enlightenment theorists like Mill.
Rather, Marx is committed to
something called the materialist conception of history.
And the materialist conception
of history is the idea that, to use another one of his
rather impenetrable phrases, he’s committed to the idea of
dialectical materialism. You might say,
“Well, what is dialectical materialism?”
This comes from the idea first
articulated by a German philosopher called Hegel that
history moves in a kind of zigzag of fits and starts.
The dialectical idea is that
some change gets made, some innovation gets made.
This, though,
breeds a kind of undertow, a resistance against the
change, the first change, and then you get as a result of
the initial change, the undertow,
the kind of pushback, but which isn’t the same as a
pushback to where you started from,
you get a new starting point. So Hegel’s famous terms were
thesis, antithesis,
and synthesis. The thesis is a change.
So you get, say,
the transition from serfdom to a market-based society.
Then you get resistance to that
market-based society. You get a new working class
comes into being, let’s say, and then that
working class becomes the agent of a new change that will
produce its own antithesis and new synthesis.
So history goes like this,
if you like. It doesn’t go in a straight
line, but it goes in a direction.
It goes forward in some sense.
And Hegel’s idea had been that
history eventually reaches an ending point,
and he thought the ending point was the Prussian state of his
day. He thought all of history was
evolving toward this supreme highest point of the Prussian
state of his day, and it was guided by the
working out of ideas in history. Marx turns this on his head;
on its head I should say, not on his head.
Marx turns it on its head
saying, “Well, yes history goes in this kind
of zigzag direction of thesis, antithesis, synthesis,
and then the synthesis becomes the new thesis and so on,
and yes, it has an endpoint (which he thinks is a communist
utopia), but it’s not driven by ideas.
It’s not driven by ideas at all.
Instead it’s driven by material
interest.” So that’s why Marx’s view is
sometimes called, as I said, dialectical
materialism. It’s driven by material
interest, or as Bill Clinton did put it in the 1992 campaign,
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
“It’s the economy,
stupid.” That’s the basic idea behind
materialism that ideas, culture, beliefs,
all of that stuff is what Marx referred to as superstructure.
It’s not really important.
What is important is the
economic base, so that economic interests
drive everything over time. And if you want to understand
how a political system works you better understand the economic
system. So in this sense it’s a very
different view than Bentham, or Mill, or any of these folks
because they’re really working in the realm of ideas,
right? They’re not Hegelians to be
sure, but they think that this idea of shaping society in terms
of their utilitarian calculus can be used in order to
reorganize things. For Marx that would be a
completely absurd agenda. You have to start with the
economy. It’s the economy, stupid.
You have to understand what the
power of forces are in the economy and what the tensions
and possibilities are within the economy before you can
understand anything else about politics.
And in that respect I think one
thing you should really get straight right away is just what
Marx thought about capitalism. How many people here thought
Marx was against capitalism? Marx was against capitalism?
Almost nobody?
Max wasn’t against capitalism?
How many think he wasn’t
against capitalism? One?
Why do you think he wasn’t
against capitalism? Just get to a mic.
Student: He wasn’t
against capitalism because Marx thought capitalism was a
necessary step in getting to socialism.
Prof: You’re exactly
right. So what Marx thought about
capitalism was, and we’re going to understand
the reasons for this in detail in the next couple of lectures,
that for a certain phase of history it was essential.
He thought capitalism was the
most innovative, dynamic, productive mode of
production that had ever been dreamed up,
and there was no way you could even think abut a socialist or a
communist society developing unless you had capitalism first.
And Marx would have had
absolutely no sympathy for the Russian Revolution which was
done in a peasant society, or the Chinese communist system
either. He would have said they were
completely premature because in the end it’s going to be
capitalism which is necessary to generate the wherewithal to make
socialism possible. So he wouldn’t have had any
sympathy with the Leninist or Stalinist projects,
which we’ll talk about later. So he’s not against capitalism.
What he thinks about capitalism
is that it’s sawing off the branch it’s sitting on over
time. That is to say there are basic
contradictions within the way capitalism works,
and indeed the very things that make capitalism the most
productive mode of production ever to have existed in human
history at one point, those very same dynamics
ultimately will undermine it. So in that sense don’t think of
him as simply against capitalism.
He, rather, wants to understand
the dynamics process that brings capitalism into being,
leads it to maturity, and eventually leads it to
self-destruct. And that is the story that he’s
going to tell us. So he has a scientific theory.
It’s a materialist theory,
and it’s based on this metaphor of the base and superstructure.
People have come up with other
metaphors, skeleton and flesh and so on, but you can play with
them. But the core idea is that it’s
the material relations that shape everything else.
More controversially,
though, people might say, is to say, “Well,
Marx is really a believer in individual rights and
freedoms.” Most people say, “What?
Marx, a believer in individual
rights and Marx thinking that freedom is important?”
Most people say,
“No, Marx is an egalitarian.
Marx is all about
equality.” And one of the things I’m going
to suggest to you in my exposition of Marx is that that
is basically wrongheaded. You’ll see that when we come to
talk about his idea of a communist utopia one of his
bumper stickers for that is the claim that,
“The free development of each is a condition for the free
development of all.” “The free development of
each is the condition for the free development of all.”
So he’s an egalitarian in the
sense that, yes, he wants everybody to have
freedom, and he thinks that that is
denied to many people in most forms of social organization.
But freedom is the most
important value, nonetheless,
and he wants to assure it for everybody.
And related to that,
you’ll see when we come to talk about on Wednesday or next
Monday the labor theory of value,
that the basic thing that drives Marx is a theory of
alienation from our true selves. We can’t be free unless we’re
at one with our true selves. And every system of social
organization before communism, in his view,
makes it impossible for us to be at one with our true selves.
We are alienated from our true
natures as productive creatures by the way in which society is
organized, and that’s the basic problem.
So we’re denied our capacity
for free action, according to Marx,
and he thinks we can never realize it until we reach this
communist utopia. So the takeaway point is going
to be that Marx is an Enlightenment theorist par
excellence. Passe people like Duncan it’s
simply not correct to see him as doing something fundamentally
different than the real Enlightenment thinkers such as
Mill and Bentham. Marx is an Enlightenment
thinker, and when you want to see radical critiques of the
Enlightenment you have to go to people like Burke and other
anti-Enlightenment thinkers who we’re going to be getting to
after spring break. A second point related to Marx
and individual rights and freedoms is you’re going to see
that we’re going to go back to our discussion of Locke,
and you’re going to discover that Marx is a true Lockean
believer in the workmanship ideal,
not in his theory of science, but in his theory of rights and
entitlements. Marx is going to embrace a kind
of doctrine of self-ownership and the idea that we own what we
make as the basis for his theory of exploitation,
because his theory of exploitation is going to turn on
the claim that people are, in fact, denied the fruits of
their own labor because of the way that the system is set up.
Well, you could say,
“So what? Why should we care that people
are denied the fruits of their own labor unless they’re
entitled to the fruits of their own labor,”
and indeed that is Marx’s view. So you will see that–I was
once accused of belittling Marx by calling him a minor
post-Lockean, but with respect to the labor
theory of value you will see that the main conceptual ideas
that go into it are straight out of Locke’s Second
Treatise and it’s straight out of the workmanship ideal.
What Marx is going to try and
do, when we get to the labor theory of value,
is give a secular version of the workmanship ideal.
And indeed, developing a viable
secular version of the workmanship ideal is a project
with at least as long a history as the history of
utilitarianism, and at least as fraught with
difficulties as the history of utilitarianism.
And we will see when we get to
Rawls, an even more radical attempt
than Marx to develop secular version of the labor theory of
value and the workmanship model, and the difficulties it runs
into. So Marx, we will see,
is the first in a long line of people who tried to secularize
the workmanship ideal by creating this labor theory of
value that’s going to have a rather checkered future as we
explore it into the twentieth century.
So that’s where we’re heading.
We’re going to explore Marx as
an Enlightenment thinker by means of three lectures,
and the first one is going to deal with Marx and the challenge
of classical political economy. Now, why do I say that?
Because really there are two
Marxes. If you were taking a course in
the history of ideas that had more than three lectures on
Marx, what you would discover is a
lot of attention to his German roots.
I’ve already mentioned that he
was a disciple and critic of Hegel,
the German idealist philosopher, but much of his
writing until the mid-nineteenth century was inspired by his
critique of Hegel’s other followers and disciples,
and we’re pretty much not going to deal with that.
We’re not going to deal with
the German Marx. We’re not, by in large,
going to deal with the young Marx.
Rather, what happened to him
was Marx thought–you may or may not know this,
but in the 1830s there were revolutions across Europe.
Kings and queens were kicked
out of office and democracy came to power.
And Marx and many of those
around him thought this is the beginning of the end of
capitalism. By 1832 or 1833,
all of those democratic revolutions had failed,
and the monarchies had been restored across Europe.
But then in 1848 there was
another whole series of revolutions across Europe,
and once again Marx thought maybe this is the beginning of
the end, and had great faith and
optimism that that was going to be the case.
But by 1851 those revolutions
had all, again, failed and the monarchs were
back in power. And Marx, after that,
became steadily more dejected and steadily more skeptical over
his remaining years that, in fact, he was going to see a
communist revolution in his lifetime.
And rather, he invested in the
project of trying to understand capitalism in a much more
systematic way than he had done in his youth.
He was kicked out of Germany.
He couldn’t go to France and he
wound up in London, and he lived the last decades
of his life in London, and in fact died and was buried
there. If you’re ever in London you
can go up to Highgate Cemetery on the Northern Line.
It’s a very interesting
cemetery. There are all kinds of
interesting people there. George Eliot is there.
Anyway, there is Karl Marx in
Highgate Cemetery. It’s all overgrown and very
interesting. Anyway, he spent his last
decades working in the basement of the British Museum,
and that’s where he composed his magnum opus,
his three-volume work Das Kapital.
It was actually envisaged as a
twelve-volume work, and the only volume that was
published in his lifetime was actually volume one.
The second and third volumes
were put together by his friend and collaborator Friedrich
Engels. And unfortunately for us the
volumes about politics were never written.
So you have to,
to some extent, put together his mature views
about politics from scraps he wrote here and there,
and some of the short pieces about politics that do appear in
the early volumes. So we’re going to mostly focus
on the mature Marx. We’re mostly going to focus on
Marx as he set himself the task of understanding the dynamics of
capitalism after he had pretty much given up on his youthful
enthusiasm for the quick transformation of the world into
socialist and then communist societies,
which he had basically started to shed after 1848 with a brief
revival of interest in 1870 given events in France,
but basically it was a trajectory from youthful
optimism into mature pessimism, at least from his point of view.
Okay, so what he did was,
he said to himself, “Well, what is it that
people are involved in– who are engaged in the serious
systematic analysis of capitalism?”
And here we tend to present
Marx as an unorthodox or radical thinker, but in fact he was a
very conventional thinker for his day.
That is to say Marx was a
follower of Adam Smith and David Ricardo,
and he saw himself largely as tackling and refining the
theories that they developed. And what I want to do with the
rest of our time this morning is say something about the project
of classical political economy that Marx inherited and
contributed to, and why he thought getting the
basic problems that the classical political economists
were trying to solve solved would enable us to understand
what the real conditions were that would eventually lead to
the collapse of capitalism. The most important feature of
capitalism, as far as Adam Smith was
concerned in The Wealth of Nations and his followers
after him, was the division of labor.
The division of labor is really
important because it has two features.
One, as far as Marx will be
concerned, it begins the process of alienating us from ourselves.
Why does it do that?
It does that because,
instead of producing things that we then consume,
we start producing things in a situation where we divide up
tasks and that makes it impossible for us to live
rounded lives. That’s ultimately where it’s
going to go. But second, and much more
important from the point of view of economics,
is that the division of labor is the engine of productivity.
The more you engage in the
division of labor the more productive you make people.
And Smith has this wonderful
example right near the beginning of The Wealth of Nations
where he talks about a pin factory.
Smith has been going around
England trying to understand where the dynamism in the
English economy is, and he gives this description
of a pin factory. He says,
One man draws out the wire, another straights it,
a third cuts it, a fourth points it,
a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head.
To make the head requires two
or three distinct operations. To put it on is a peculiar
business. To whiten the pins is another.
It is even a trade by itself to
put them into the paper. And the important business of
making a pin is, in this manner,
divided into about eighteen distinct operations.
As a result of that division of
labor, though, Smith calculated that
ten workers could make 48,000 pins a day,
but if they had all worked separately and independently all
they could have produced was a few dozen.
So that basic insight of
Smith’s, that it’s the division of labor that is the engine of
capitalist productivity, sets the terms for Adam Smith’s
analysis of markets in The Wealth of Nations,
for Ricardo’s refinement, and for Marx’s
refinement of both of their arguments in Das Kapital.
So what was the project of
classical political economy? What was it that Marx was
stepping into and trying to contribute to?
Well, one way of describing it,
as I have it here, is, it was the search for
theories of natural and market– I’ve got theories there twice,
sorry– search for theories of natural
and market wages, prices, rents, and profits.
They wanted to understand what
determines wages, prices, rents,
and profits, but they thought you had to
have a theory of natural wages, prices, rents,
and profits, and market wages,
prices, rents, and profits. Now, let’s focus on prices,
because the way the other three are treated is basically by
analogy to the analysis of pricing.
A modern neoclassical economist
would say, “There is no natural price of anything.”
A modern neoclassical economist
would say, “What determines prices is supply and demand in
the market. There is nothing else to say
about prices.” And they gave up the notion
that there’s any natural theory of wages, prices,
rents, and profits to be found. So a big difference between the
classical theorists, and the modern theorists,
is this idea that there’s a theory of natural prices.
Now, why would they think
there’s a theory of natural prices?
The reason they thought there
was a theory of natural prices was they were arguing with
people like the physiocrats and the trade theorists about where
value comes from. What is the source of value?
The physiocrats in France said
the source of value is the land, that somehow it gets
transferred to the products. Whereas the trade theorists,
who had been impressed that countries like Holland which had
so little land but had become so rich said,
“No. Value comes from trade.”
So they were all sort of
saying, “Where is the it? What is the source of
value?” And the English theorists
following Locke, Petty–Sir William Petty,
John Locke, Hobbes, all believed that the way you
find value is to go into labor; that work, workmanship is the
source of value. So all classical political
economists, Smith, Ricardo and Marx
believed in the labor theory of value,
and they counter posed it to theories based on trade,
or the physiocrats’ theories that were popular in France,
as I’ve said. So that’s one reason,
but another is that it’s not the case that they were ignorant
of the laws of supply and demand.
So and we’ll see how Marx
handles them on Wednesday. It’s not the case that they’re
ignorant of the laws of supply and demand, but they thought it
couldn’t possibly tell you the whole story.
So you can think about it this
way. Suppose there is a dearth in
the supply of coffee mugs? The price will go up.
They didn’t disagree with that,
right? And if there are too many
coffee mugs, more coffee mugs than anybody wants,
the price will go down. Maybe somebody will realize you
an drill holes in the bottom and then use them to grow plants in,
and then maybe the price would go up a bit because there will
be more. But they thought that supply
and demand fluctuate with what it is that people actually want.
They didn’t have any problem
with that notion, but still in all they thought
there must be something that will tell you what the price is
when supply and demand are in equilibrium.
Another way you can think about
it is supply and demand go up and down,
but they go up and down around some point,
and what tells you what that point is?
Okay, that’s what the labor
theory of value was supposed to do.
That’s the natural price.
I think a modern economist
might call it the long-run equilibrium price.
That’s one way in which if you
wanted to find an analogy in modern economic thinking to this
classical idea of a natural price,
it’s the long-run equilibrium price.
It’s the price of a commodity
when supply and demand are in equilibrium.
So the labor theory of value
was a theory of that. It was going to tell you what
the long-run equilibrium price of a commodity would be,
okay? And all of the classical
political economists were trying to have a theory of that.
So when you read “natural
prices,” that’s what you should think.
They’re trying to understand
what– not marginal changes in the
sense of a Pareto diagram, but the long-run changes given
the marginal fluctuations around some point.
The question is,
what is that point? And that’s what the labor
theory of value was designed to give you.
It was a theory,
in that sense, of natural prices,
not a theory of market prices. They thought you had to have
both. Supply and demand gave you the
market price. The labor theory of value gave
you the natural price. A second big problem that
framed the project of classical political economy was that they
all believed, as they looked around them,
that there was a declining tendency in the rate of profit.
This was taken as a given;
as a given, widely-accepted empirical fact.
And so if it was the case that
the rate of profit tends to decline over time,
it can be offset by various things and so on which we will
talk about, but if it’s the case that the
rate of profit in capitalist economies declines over time,
your theory isn’t going to be worth a damn unless you can
explain why. So one of the tests,
if you like, of a good theory,
as far as Smith was concerned, as far as Ricardo was
concerned, and as far as Marx was
concerned, was it had to explain the declining tendency in the
rate of profit. And Smith had an account,
Ricardo had an account, and Marx had an account.
They all differed somewhat.
They all overlapped in some
ways. We’ll see part of the reason
all three of them thought you would have to have imperialism
was you needed new markets to offset this problem of the
declining tendency in the rate of profit at home,
but that was only going to be a temporary stopgap or solution.
But in any event,
your theory wasn’t going to be worth anything unless it could
explain why prices are what they are,
the theory of long-run equilibrium prices,
and second, unless it gave a credible account of why profits
fall in capitalist systems over time.
Now, a third conceptual point
to make that you need in order to understand the project of
classical political economy as Marx understood it is actually
related to the first point, but I’m just singling it out
because people sometimes get confused about it.
It’s a distinction that Marx
makes between use-value and exchange value.
Sometimes you’ll see Marx uses
the word value with a big V. You should just read that as
exchange value. So value with a big V is
exchange value. So what is the difference
between use-value and exchange value?
Well, for Marx use-value is
utility. That’s all it is.
Use-value is simply usefulness.
And he has a kind of binary
theory of use-value. Either things have use value or
they don’t. So coffee cups have a
use-value, you can drink out of them.
If somebody drilled holes in
the bottom of them they would have no use-value until somebody
came along and said, “Well, we can use them to
grow plants,” then they would have use-value.
So things either have use-value
or they don’t, and I’ll come back to that in a
minute. And that’s going to affect the
supply and demand, but it’s not going to explain
the price. It’s not going to explain the
long-run equilibrium price. That is the exchange value and
that is what we learn about from the labor theory of value as far
as Marx was concerned. So it’s the labor theory of
value explains the price, and is not to be confused with
the use-value or utility of an object.
Again, one important
difference, and maybe the most important difference between
classical political economy and neoclassical political economy
is, we will see later,
the neoclassical people shed the labor theory of value and so
there is no exchange value independent of utility,
but we’ll get to that. That’s getting ahead of
ourselves. When you’re concerned with the
classical formulations, and in the nineteenth century,
exchange value or price, or value with a big V,
is determined by the labor theory of value and use-value is
usefulness. And that brings me to Marx’s
definition of a commodity.
A commodity has a very special
meaning for Marx. It’s something that is produced
for exchange. So if you plant an apple tree
and you grow apples in order to eat them, you’re producing for
consumption, those apples are not commodities.
But if you plant an apple tree
and grow apples and sell them, then those apples are
commodities, right? And something is a commodity if
it’s produced for exchange. And that’s very important
because once you have a division of labor you have more and more
commodity production. And you might recall in my very
first lecture I said that one of the things Marx shares in common
with Bentham is he’s somebody who pushes the idea he has to
the absolute extreme and then even beyond that.
So what we’re going to see
happen with Marx and commodification is exactly
analogous to Bentham and utility.
That Bentham says,
“How would the world look if utility maximization was the
only game in town, if there was nothing else at
all?” and so his theory runs.
With Marx it’s,
“How would the world look if commodification was the only
game in town?” Everything in a capitalist
system becomes a commodity, even the worker himself.
Even the worker himself.
And when we start to understand
the dynamics of capitalist production we’ll see that the
analysis of the value of a worker is no different than the
analysis of the value of the pin that the worker produces in Adam
Smith’s factory. So he takes this idea of
commodification and pushes it to the hilt.
So I think if you think about
those four features of the project of classical political
economy it gives you a sense of what was in Marx’s head as he
set off to try and understand the dynamics of capitalist
systems. And what he did was,
he said, “Well, we have to understand,
first of all, how capitalist systems look to
the participants, because the way in which they
look to the participants is not the same as the way in which
they really work.” So there’s a basic distinction,
if you like, between appearance and reality.
The way in which people think
market systems work isn’t the way in which they actually work.
So it’s a little like Bentham
saying, “You might think you’re
not motivated by utility and all the rest of it,
but in fact you are, and the rare case is we get it
right, not the rare case is that we
get it wrong.” In this sense Marx,
like Bentham, is an objectivist.
He thinks he’s describing
scientifically the laws of motion of capitalist systems
regardless of whether the participants in those systems
understand these laws of motion, and for the most part they
don’t. Indeed he’s going to claim
ultimately that a socialist revolution differs from all
others because for the first time in history,
people understand the social relations that they’re part of,
and so can self-consciously transform them and create an
unalienated social order. So at the beginning of volume
one of Kapital he’s basically saying,
“How does it look to the participants?”
Well, if you have a division of
labor, you look around, what do you actually see?
You see people producing
commodities. They exchange those commodities
for money, and then they use that money to buy other
commodities, which they consume. So you have these cycles of
exchange; commodity, money,
commodity, right? So the person working growing
apples, sells the apples for money, and then uses the money
to buy milk and eggs and so on, in the simplest case,
right? So if someone landed from Mars
in the middle of a capitalist economy, that’s what they would
see; all of these people producing
things, exchanging those things for money, and buying other
things which they then consume, right?
That was the idea.
But then if you look a little
bit more carefully, you see that actually some
people are doing something entirely different.
Most people are producing
commodities, exchanging the commodities for money and then
using the money to buy other commodities that they consume.
But Marx says,
“Some people are doing something different.
They’re taking some money,
buying a commodity (in this case the labor of the worker for
a certain time) and then selling what gets produced for more
money.” So they’re not interested in
consumption it doesn’t seem, at least at first sight.
And indeed, if you look even
more closely you’ll see that when they do that,
the money they end up with is more than the money they started
with. M prime is bigger than M.
And the question,
the organizing question of Das Kapital–
and it was the question that preoccupied Adam Smith and David
Ricardo before Marx, and as I said,
in this sense he was completely orthodox classical theorist,
his radicalism comes in later. The question is where does
prime come from? What makes profit possible?
You’re not going to explain why
profits decline, after all, if you can’t
understand where profit comes from.
What is the origin of profit?
That’s the basic problem.
The transformation of money
into capital has to be developed on the basis of the immanent
laws of the exchange of commodities,
in such a way that the starting point is the exchange of
equivalents. The money-owner who is as yet
only the capitalist in larval form,
must buy his commodities at their value,
sell them at their value, and yet at the end of the
process withdraw more value from circulation than he threw into
it at the beginning. His emergence as a butterfly
must, and yet must not, take place in the sphere of
circulation. These are the conditions of the
problem. A very famous passage at the
beginning of Kapital telling us that if you want to
understand why the capitalist winds up with more you have to
understand the source of value, because there’s no cheating;
equivalents exchange for equivalents in every one of
those cycles. It’s not that somehow the
worker is tricked into selling his labor power for less than
its worth. On the contrary,
he’s paid exactly what its worth.
So once you can understand that
puzzle of how, when equivalents exchange for
equivalents, new value is still nonetheless
created, then you understand the secret
to where profit comes from, you know the source of value,
and you can begin the process of understanding the dynamic
productiveness of capitalism and why it will eventually start to
fall apart. And we will dig into those
subjects on Wednesday.




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