Simon wrote:
>       I think that where we are parting company is that I am seeing the
> productive relationship also as a social relationship, and the purpose of
> revolution to change the social relationship by qualitatively changing the
> productive relationship, not quantitatively.

Yes SOCIAL relations are relations of production. No problem there. 
Revolutionising the social relations of production is the aim of 

> I also think that, as I have > pointed out before, the dialectics of Left wing 
>philosophy are
> fundamentally flawed in failing to grasp this fact in their analysis of
> society, by treating people and thus their ENTIRE needs, rather than just
> their PHYSICAL needs, as objective.

If you mean that physical=production and entire=social then same as 
above, the two cannot be separated. In human  society physical 
reproduction has to be social. 

> Now i know that it would be very nice 
> for me as a member of the working class to get a cut of my own surplus,
> possibly an equal share with everyone else in that society. I wouldn't call
> it anything other than capitalism, even if my nose was no longer rubbed
> quite so hard in my own means of subsistence and my wage was somehow
> removed from what I actually produced (which leads to the labour vouchers
> systems which Marx correctly criticised: and to criticise a distribution of
> surplus for one abstraction by reference to the real facts is surely to
> criticise all abstractions with reference to the same fact...?) In
> particular, however, if I was no longer allowed to consider my wage a
> realistic sum, and saw a few people telling me what to do and rolling in
> the loot which I amd my brothers and sisters had produced, I would start
> thinking that someone is pulling a fast one. If anything, the law of value
> is intensified, because I have to define it consciously! Or, alternatively,
> I live in a society which does not allow me to discuss such 
> things, which > means that someone else is making that decision.

You are talking about the quantitative distribution of the surplus 
without qualitatively transforming the social relations here I take 
it?  I agree that no quantitative change under capitalism can qualify 
as a change of the capitalist social relations of production. But 
this begs the question as to what that change was in the case of the 
workers states. The effect may be similar, namely persistence of 
unequal distribution, but can you can only draw the conclusion that 
unqual distribution equals capitalism if you have an abstract 
definition of capitalism as unequal distribution and an idealist 
definition of socialism as  equal distribution. Lenin argued 
that capitalist social relations of production had been overthrown in 
Russia, but that under the new workers state, bourgeois inqualities 
(to each according to their work)  would persist until such time as 
what Hugh talked about as primitive socialist accumulation would 
produce sufficient economic goodies (plenty) to allow truly socialist 
norms of distribution to evolve (to each according to their need).   
So even in the case of a healthy workers state you could not define 
socialism as one of equal distribution.  In a degenerated workers 
state where the bureaucrats control production, the inequality is 
clearly much greater, and in reality conforms to the bourgeois norms 
of unequal distribution. But to deduce from that that bourgeois 
social relations of production exit would be a mistake. Because it 
would mean that you did not recognise the material leap made possible 
by a workers revolution and by workers property, since you put in 
its place an idealist blueprint of socialism as a 'finished product'. 
To forsake the real because of its imperfections for the sake of a 
perfect ideal is no way to run a revolution. 

>       At the end of the day, in the society I live in I have a value, as a
> complete entity, rather than having a dual existence (as conscious creature
> and as machine) where the machine can be made a machine and be given a
> value, and I can enter the productive process freely as architect rather
> than as bee. Whatever end of the telescope you look through.

You feel you have value and subjectively want to escape the 
determinism of necessary labour and surplus labour, but how? As you 
say at the start only by qualitatively transforming social AND 
productive relations. 

>       And you are still using the word "value" instead of "price" when you talk
> of suspending the LOV.It does require certain inputs for a labourer at a
> certain historical level of production to create a certain product. If you
> give over and above that you may be investing in future production
> (teaching the worker, making him/her healthier, etc.), genuinely unaware of
> the value of their labour (which the market finds via the price mechanism,
> and the state guesses), forced into paying more (a REAL strike), or
> genuinely uncaring (either uneconomically flogging workers to death in
> concentration camps/ gulags, or giving workers a share of their profits as
> a gratuity). The value of their labour remains the same. By charging or
> giving a higher price for labour, you skew the market in labour's favour
> for buying other goods (thus lowering the rate of profit by handing over a
> portion of what, by values, is surplus) and make it unfavourable to employ
> that labour, leading to a drive towards technology. Let's face it, putting
> an arbitrarily high price on labour is a good Archimedes screw for
> technological advance, at the cost of surplus: either cutting into profits,
> or into investment. I'm sure the nice Chinese bureaucrats of the Mao era
> went for belt-tightening, intrue proletarian style..... it is noticeable
> that the whole LOV "suspension" has taken a major downturn now that instead
> of China being a potential major power needing industrialisation like a
> human needs air, it is getting already existing industrialised countries to
> provide FDI at the going technological level by selling its sons and
> daughters as slaves. The peasants have noticed very little difference,
> apparently....

What you call artificially screwing up the price of labour as a 
mechanism for technological advance is a relatively secondary factor.
It is a factor which alters the relation between demand and supply in 
the labour market. This cannot cause capitalist development. That 
results from competition to  increase relative surplus-value by 
increasing the productivity of labour. This can result in rising, 
or falling real wages as a secondary effect which does not really 
impact back on the independent variable. This the fundamental 
difference between Marx and Ricardo. While the former explained 
capitalist dynamics as a zero-sum struggle between wages and profits, 
Marx showed that increases in relative sv do not require a reduction 
in wages. In fact capital can experience increased profits with 
rising wages, and crises of overproduction with falling wages. The 
key to Marx's critique of Ricardo was his rejection of Ricardo's 
universal concept of labour = value. Marx showed that value is 
specific to capitalism and is defined by the historically specific  
socially necessary labour time (expenditure of labour power). And 
this in turn resulted from his recognition of the dual aspect of the 
commodity labour-power as use-value (capital's ability to use it 
beyond necessary labour time) and exchange value, the socially 
necessary labour time required to produce the commodities necessary 
to reproduce it. 

As for China, which is were we began and should finish, the 
reintroduction of the LOV as you say combines advanced technology 
with very low wages. It is the advanced technology that creates the 
super-profits for DFI, the low wages are a bonus. As workers organise 
and drive up their wages, this may eliminate the bonus, but not 
the super-profits from relative surplus-value. The point for us as 
revolutionaries is not to project such trends as if China has to go 
through capitalist restoration to develop. As Russia and China 
showed, under bureaucratic mismanged plans they achieved great leaps 
forward. Under a democratic workers plan, China would leave the 
crisis ridden capitalist world behind in its dust. Crude competition 
as the spur to development would be replaced by planned production 
for need, and the chaos and destruction of capitalism would be 
replaced by a system that came close to meeting your need to have a 
'value' that is not reduced to necessary labour. 

> The above para is just an attempt on the spot to construct a meaningful
> reason for China favouring over-the-odds prices for labour: would like some
> comments (I'm not emotionally attached to it or anything, so get your
> biggest boots on).
>Oh, and as to the revolutionary upsurge: I identify this as 
> revolutionary feeling which has been squashed by the Left and forced into
> capitalist channels. The people wrote "Abolition of the Wages System!" on
> their banners: the Left sneaked in at night with a crayon and changed it to
> "A fair day's pay for a fair day's work!" Thus I see the fall of these
> regimes as a positive historical step, just as I see their previous
> existence as historically necessary for Capitalism to develop. If that is
> the level of feeling available to the capitalist project: what will we see
> for a world where capitalism is abolished?
The role played by psuedo communists and all manner of left 
misleaders is not ended by capitalist restoration. So one should'nt 
lightly write off the counter-revolution as a "positive historical 
step" .  A real positive step would have been (and still is in 
China) to overthrow these bureuacratic barriers from the base of 
workers property. Once restoration occurs we have to do so from a 
position of enforced retreat into a highly uneven and backward 
capitalism.  As Hugh pointed out, talking about historically 
necessary gains in this way is to credit history with a fatalist 
force, and to abdicate from collective responsibility for the 
struggle to defend the gains of the past and fight for real gains on 
the ground today in favour of idealist projections which depend upon 
some predetermined ideal of capitalism and socialism. 


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