Here's a response to some of Simon's points:

> And if you get a monopoly price for a good, it doesn't
>change its value.

No but it distorts the value return (ie price) for all other goods in the
system. No amount of price manipulation can change the aggregate value in
the system at any time. Most of the price skulduggery goes to redistribute
surplus value in favour of capital-intensive monopolies or to dollop out
goodies to the class (sinecures and awards for the boys -- lawyers,
generals, advertisers and such).

>... that is why I referred to the
>system of treating workers AS values being that which is the law OF value,
>because it is effectively a closed system whereby, for example, the market
>system even now is finding the value which is added to a worker by a
>degree, through the price mechanism, whereas before when they were
>desperate for white collar workers they were in a simpler situation and
>could arbitrarily dish out degree educations, if you like, knowing that the
>overarching system of values would pan out in the end.

They might do it, but they don't *know* it. Treating workers as exchange
value, ie commodities, is a straightforward aspect of capitalism. The law
of value expresses the process involved in determining the value of this
and other commodities. There's no need to mysticize it. The system is not
the law of value. The law of value explains how the system tends to work.

>>Capitalism is not an abstraction, it's a very concrete and evil entity.
>It is the fact that it is an abstraction from HUMANS that it is bad. You
>know what I am saying, don't try and twist words.

Chill, brother. Capitalism is not an abstraction from humans. It's the
socio-economic system (mode of production) we are now living under, in its
imperialist stage of development. The processes within this mode of
production lead to fetishization and alienation of humanity from human
beings, but that's not the same thing. Capitalism is a concrete
manifestation of human social reproductive activity. It is NOT abstract. It
will have to be changed concretely and materially by a committed, conscious
and well-organized working-class leadership that has the backing of the
mobilized working masses. No other way this can be done. Capitalism is
exploitative and turns people into things, that's why it's evil.

>> No way. Imperialist capitalism IS imperialism IS capitalism. Or perhaps
>> Simon can show us some sweet enclave of non-imperialist capitalism in the
>> world? (Wait for it....)
>To attack capitalism for being
>imperialist is to justify capitalism which isn't: a fluffy, UN dominated
>capitalist PC paradise. Your use of the word evil earlier indicates your
>approach. Any real socialist knows that capitalism is FAIR, by its own
>rules, and tries to overthrow it as a system. It is only because you want
>to run a form OF capitalism that you have to attack capitalism for its
>evils rather than the system as a whole.

This is so off-target it is to unbelieve. Simon points to a common enough
fallacy on the left (quite prevalent in third-world left movements which
love to attack Yankee imperialism but are often too soft on nationalist
capitalism and democratic reaction), but the fallacy arises by dissociating
imperialism from capitalism, as he does, and not by seeing the two as
inseparable as the revolutionary Marxist tradition does (ie Lenin and
Trotsky -- Marx would clearly be with them on this if he was around to give
his views). Getting rid of imperialism without getting rid of capitalism is
impossible. That's why I asked about Simon's views on Chavez in Venezuela,
who is the latest of the anti-imperialist pro-capitalist petty-bourgeois
nationalist saviours to pull the wool over the eyes of the furious masses
in a third-world country.

The reason I attack capitalism as a whole is because of its evils as a
whole and as a mode of production. The reason I attack it as imperialism is
because my politics are rooted in reality. Today's capitalism is
imperialist through and through, there is no other kind. This was obvious
to both Lenin and Trotsky and other revolutionaries of their day, such as
Rosa Luxemburg. Today it's even more obvious. You don't even have to
theorize, all you've got to do is point. The dollar takes over in Argentina
and Brazil. The Deutschmark takes over in the Balkans. The Euro is poised
to take over from the deutschmark, the pound and the franc in Europe. I'd
still like to know where Simon sees any non-imperialist enclave of
harmonious, smooth-running capitalism in the world.

>Hang on, you're making my point!

No way.

>Except that you seem to go on to say that
>we will keep the law of value even in socialism.

Simon's lack of historical perspective dogs him here. When I wrote about
Preobrazhensky and the process of Primitive Socialist Accumulation I made
it clear that the law of value of the world market puts pressure on the
proto-socialist mode of production, I also made it clear that there are
value pressures within the proto-socialist mode of production itself
arising from large-scale commodity production by sectors (agriculture and
small handicrafts, for instance) not yet absorbed into the state planning
system of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And I finally made it clear
that the most important sector -- the commanding heights of industry and
transport and communications and the administrative and financial
instruments for coordinating and planning them -- was beyond the scope of
the law of value because production, inputs and distribution was being run
by way of conscious cooperative planning and not determined by the blind
operation of the law of value in the market.

>Socialism isn't a commune
>where we still use capitalist rationality but decide how much to give
>ourselves and how much to invest in machines, etc... that is the ultimate
>capitalism, shorn of capitalists, a system so embedded in the workers'
>brains that they maintain it themselves even though noone enforces it

Simon sees no transitional period in which the contradictory demands of
capitalist economic rationality and socialist economic rationality will be
in conflict both overtly at state level and subjectively in people's heads.
If he understood this necessary historical process of working through
social contradictions his view of the world and of socialist imperatives
would be far less idealistic.

>I'm glad to see that you accept marx's early writings, rather than taking
>the Stalinist Althusser approach.

Simon wasn't around in the old days, or he would be aware of my views on
Althusser (and the Pomos for that matter, and the regulationists, and many
other things beside). The archives are full of my stuff if he's interested
in my positions.

>However,to refer to the Jewish Question
>for ideas on labour POWER and thus a proper treatment of the subject is
>impossible, as demonstrated by the 1847 "Wage Labour and Capital" where
>marx still refers to labour rather than labour POWER. So I don't know
>whether this is a genuine error or whether you are trying to wriggle.

I bet Simon tries to teach his Dad the Facts of Life of an evening, too.

>as you know, I am an ardent fan of the early writings and have used the
>contradiction to effect elsewhere on this forum many times, so this is just
>barefaced cheek. Stop the tactics, fight your argument to the finish or go
>home, but you don't slide round me that easily.

Simon sees himself as a rock counterposed to the wintry sea, but I see him
as a straw floating in the foam. A wave doesn't slide round a straw, it
bears it with it willy-nilly, as Simon is borne along by Marxism and the
revolutionary workers movement. From time to time the wind passes through
the straw and it emits a gurgling note or two.

>> Is Simon aware of the fact that the companies fix their pre-sale prices in
>> blind, arbitrary fashion, and that the workings of the Law of Value only
>> hit them retroactively, after the sale is consummated? So they can never
>> (and I mean *never* as a matter of fundamental economic principle) *ever*
>> know in advance if their guess about the price is right in relation to the
>> value it contains (adjusted for monopoly, high-tech and other
>Yup. Thus the pricing mechanism only kicks in globally, as one business
>fails and another succeeds. Evolution. Materialism. To repeat YET again,
>just because you don't know what the value of something is doesn't mean it
>has no value, any more than my not knowing how much water I need to drink
>each day means that I don't need to drink water.

It's not the pricing mechanism that kicks in, but the value constraints on
pricing. And the expression "value of something" is ambiguous. Every
product ("something") need not be a commodity, even if every commodity is
by necessity a product. Products that are not commodities do not have
exchange value (or use *value* either for that matter).

>> "Having the revolution themselves" with no leadership or organization
>> focused on providing class leadership is anarchism. Never worked, never
>> will. And when anarchists get frustrated with nothing happening (according
>> to their lights) they are very inclined to turn to individual terrorism.
>That's just nya nya nya nya.... and again signs of crumbling. You should be
>able to do better than that. You know we are not anarchists. Go visit the
>site again if you don't understand why. It's

This claim not to be anarchists is directly contradicted by the following:

>inability to understand how people can organise without leaders is a poor
>reflection on your competence as a revolutionary rather than a statement
>about revolutionaries.

Organizations without leaders are like commodities without values, pure
Simon himself says that even if people don't know value is contained in
"something" (meaning a commodity), nonetheless value is contained in it.
Pity he doesn't use the same rigour arguing about social organization. Too
bad "leadership" is such a dirty word for the sensitive left -- another
legacy of Stalinism in the mass movement, and one that has had an impact
way beyond Stalinism as such. But you can't get away from the need for
leadership or its necessary presence in any movement or organization by
wishing it away or inventing euphemisms to disguise it verbally.



PS >> I wonder what Simon thanks of Chavez in Venezuela?

And today I am still wondering what Simon thinks of Chavez in Venezuela?
Surely his horizons stretch beyond the Irwell? (By the way, the
Encyclopaedia Britannica, now on line for free at, gives us
an interesting titbit about Manchester:

"Roman occupation left no permanent imprint, except to give the modern city
its name, derived from Mamucium ("Place of the Breastlike Hill"). "


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