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Post by Uberak on Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:30 pm

Before we start any discussion on markets, we need to define them first. A market economy is essentially a system where economic parties trade commodities to each other with a free price system. Of course, most modern markets are more complex than this, and many of them have restrictions on price. But, I still think the definition is accurate. A free market is basically that system without significant regulation and the economic parties being independent of the government.

One reason why I support a market economy is that we need a system that can serve the different needs and wants of all in the best way possible, when there is scarcity. While markets aren't always perfect in this, they still are the most efficient system in that regard, and I can't think of any other realistic determiner of distribution and production aside from government, which I wouldn't trust with control over the production and distribution of goods nor understanding the needs and wants of the people.

This is only one of the reasons that I support markets. I want to see what sort of objections that you all have towards markets and develop the discussion from there.
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Re: Markets

Post by Rev Scare on Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:07 am

Before I proceed, it warrants mentioning that I advocate on behalf of market syndicalism as a transition to a planned economy. There are various reasons why markets should be abolished. I will elaborate upon a number of factors, in no particular order of importance.

Commodity Fetishism: Markets require that the division of labor in society be mediated through commodity exchange, not through direct social relations between people. Individual producers do not know what transpires outside of their particular workplaces nor are consumers aware of what occurs within them. It is only when individual producers bring their various products to the market, at which point their commodities confront each other, that they can gauge the value of their private labors through price. Markets therefore confine our social relationships to those of objects and price signals. It appears to us as consumers and producers that objects in and of themselves possess value via prices (and these do not accurately reflect true social costs to begin with), which fluctuate according to an obscured social relationship between people. This interaction between commodities, which conceals the relationship of our personal labors, serves to guide the production process, compelling producers to produce more or less, expand operations, or face bankruptcy. This impersonal manner of coordinating the social labor process is what Adam Smith referred to when he introduced the concept of the "invisible hand" (and which Marxists describe as anarchic). Our labor becomes indirectly social. There is no self-conscious and comprehensive evaluation of our productive and consumptive intercourse; instead, we are transformed into mere units in a dispassionate process of value generation whose only logic is the accumulation of profit for the sake of profit. Brendan Cooney's video should elucidate the topic further.



The myth of "consumer democracy" is also related to commodity fetishism.



Production for Exchange: Rather than meet human needs and wants directly, markets presuppose universal commodity exchange. Producers create goods and services (commodities) not as use values to satisfy humanity but as exchange values, which they intend to sell on the market for a profit. There is a contradiction here, a fundamental antagonism between use and exchange value. We cannot produce for use and exchange simultaneously. The objects of our labor are either useful to us, in which case we consume them personally, or they merely represent a stage in a formula of accumulation, in which case we sell them to realize a surplus. This latter mode of production entails its own logic: an endless cycle of pursuing profit, of gathering money as a social power. As Marx put it, "accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets." This is what allows idle factories to coexist with millions of unemployed, empty houses to be juxtaposed with thousands of homeless, tens of millions of tons of food wasted while many millions starve, incessant pollution, etc. Without money, people are not recognized by the market, as it concerns itself only with effective demand, but it is incapable of rationally organizing human labor for the benefit of all. Granted, a socialist market (not welfare capitalism, but market socialism) would dramatically improve upon such horrendous injustice, but it would ultimately remain beholden to the harsh discipline of producing at the socially necessary labor time. Alienation from one's work, for one, would persist. (This is not the thread for me to provide a detailed Marxian critique of market socialism; if you are interested, I encourage you to open a separate one, though most of these arguments apply.)

Remunerative Justice: Markets reward property, educational status, genetic endowment, initial advantages, demand for one's goods and services, luck, and other variables that are not deserving of it. As a luck egalitarian, I do not view remuneration on the basis of factors beyond one's ability to control to be legitimate. Instead, individuals should be compensated for what is within their capacity to reasonably influence: namely, their effort and sacrifice.

Workplace Hierarchy: Markets enforce a strict division of labor inside the firm. Competitive pressures undermine such considerations as job satisfaction and self-management. As a result, some workers perpetually engage in rote, menial work that stifles their potential while others (a minority) are constantly performing thought-provoking, highly creative labor. Not only does such an arrangement prevent the flourishing of the vast majority, but it fashions workplace hierarchy as rational and necessary. A segment of the workforce becomes structurally advantaged, and elements of this "coordinator class" may hold private interests contrary to socialism.

Antagonistic Roles: Competition renders social cooperation irrational. Buyers and sellers possess opposing interests, and neither are in a position to consider the situation of the other, let alone society at large. Commodity fetishism precludes the possibility of arriving at an informed decision. I would argue that the very act of producing solely with the intent to profit is antisocial.

Externalities: Costs transferred to innocent third parties are pervasive in the market. To quote E. K. Hunt:

"The Achilles heel of welfare economics is its treatment of externalities . . . When reference is made to externalities, one usually takes as an example an upwind factory that emits large quantities of sulfur oxides and particulate matter inducing rising probabilities of emphysema, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases to residents downwind, or a strip-mining operation that leaves an irreparable aesthetic scar on the countryside. The fact is, however, that most of the millions of production and consumption activities in which we daily engage involve externalities. In a market economy any action of one individual or enterprise which induces pleasure or pain to any other individual or enterprise constitutes an externality. Since the vast majority of productive and consumptive acts are social, i.e., to some degree they involve more than one person, it follows that they will involve externalities. Our table manners in a restaurant, the general appearance of our house, our yard or our person, our personal hygiene, the route we pick for a joy ride, the time of day we mow our lawn, or nearly any one of the thousands of ordinary daily acts, all affect, to some degree, the pleasures or happiness of others. The fact is externalities are totally pervasive."
"A Radical Critique of Welfare Economics," in Ed Nell ed. Growth, Profits, and Property (Cambridge, 1980)

The Visible Hand: Most modern industries are dominated by a handful of private corporations that operate by planning production extensively, thereby illustrating the hypocrisy with which marketeers extol private initiative versus economic planning. For some curious reason, they would have us believe that internal coordination is commendable but applying the same reasoning to the external forces of the market is objectionable. Absurdity.

"[When the modern business] enterprise came into being and continued to grow by setting up or purchasing business units that were theoretically able to operate as independent enterprises...The internalization of many units permitted the flow of goods from one unit to another to be administratively coordinated.

[As giant corporations came to dominate business,] the visible hand of management replaced the invisible hand of market mechanisms...Whereas the activities of single-unit traditional enterprises were monitored and coordinated by market mechanisms, the producing and distributing units within a modern business enterprise are monitored and coordinated by middle managers. Top managers, in addition to evaluating and coordinating the work of middle managers, took the place of the market in allocating resources for future production and distribution."

Chandler, Albert DuPont. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business, pp. 6-7.

In other words, capitalism has already established the precedent for socialist planning.

To conclude, I recommend that you follow this link to an interview in which Michael Albert presents a powerful case for market abolitionism.

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Re: Markets

Post by Uberak on Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:53 am

Commodity Fetishism:What exactly would decentralized planning do to educate consumers about what goes on in the workplace? You would either have to improve the memory of the populace or convert the entire nation into an economy of subsistence agriculture or artisanship. (Considering the thread on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, I know the other option is not going to appeal to you.) Also, people have demand for commodities due to needing and wanting them, and the theory of subjective value (Where the value of the good has nothing to do with labor.) is simply the flaw of modern economists and not the market system itself.

Production for Exchange:How exactly do use-value and exchange-value contradict each other ALL the time? How exactly does decentralized planning avoid the conflict between those who produce the product and the rest of society, who are unable to produce the product in question? Unless you want the producers of that particular product to give away the surplus of that product to the rest of society.

Remunerative Justice:Genetic endowment? No, I do not consider any one person to be genetically superior to one another. Again, how exactly does decentralized planning solve this problem without taking control away from the producer to the rest of society by forcing them to share with the rest of society? Also, how exactly is this connected to markets as opposed to capitalism?

Workplace Hierarchy:Democracy is inefficient in a competitive setting? I would disagree actually. As for the different tasks of the workforce, federalism within the competing cooperatives can solve conflicts between the different divisions of labor. Also, menial rote work and division of labor is required for any modern society, or else the goods and services associated with it are not going to be made.

Antagonistic Roles:The thing is that I don't care about social cooperation, and I don't really consider it to be efficient at all. Anyways, what exactly prevents the competition between the producers (sellers in the market) and the rest of society? In fact, decentralized planning has nothing to offer aside from either a gift economy, having a decentralized democratic government control the economy, or becoming market socialism with labor notes. Gift economies are impractical due to people having different needs and wants, and control by the government means that the former buyers now rule over the producers. Even then, the buyers of a market economy are also producers, and thus the conflict is more about the interests of the individual enterprise versus the rest of society. This conflict is essentially resolve through the market with supply and demand.

Externalities:Okay, how does decentralized planning avoid this? This is a fact of life in civilization.

The Visible Hand: I am against economic planning by capitalist oligopolies. This applies to capitalist markets, not to socialist markets.

Anyways, considering that this thread is not in the opposing ideologies forum, we should be considering the market outside of capitalism, and we should focus on market socialism in particular.
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Re: Markets

Post by Rev Scare on Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:46 am

Uberak wrote:Commodity Fetishism:What exactly would decentralized planning do to educate consumers about what goes on in the workplace? You would either have to improve the memory of the populace or convert the entire nation into an economy of subsistence agriculture or artisanship.

I do not understand why this would be the case, but you are missing the point. A system predicated upon commodity exchange, i.e., the market, requires that we confront the world as atomized individuals interacting with objects instead of people. It is impossible to coordinate the social labor process directly; instead, it must be achieved through the fluctuation of prices. Instead of consciously allocating resources to various producers on the basis of a common plan, our labor is haphazardly disciplined by cold market forces. Neither producers nor consumers act according to comprehensive information regarding production and consumption. On the contrary, products are created for the market, and the market, not people, decides the outcome. This is irrational, to say the least. It is also alienating in that the market compels us to act on its terms: we must find something to sell in order to survive; work becomes drudgery rather than a source of fulfillment.

Informed consumer preference was only a minor aspect of my description of commodity fetishism, but in a participatory planned economy, consumer councils would establish "demand." Modern information technologies would ensure that virtually any level of insight pertaining to the economy would be readily available.

Also, people have demand for commodities due to needing and wanting them,

Although this is strongly influenced by their social positions.

and the theory of subjective value (Where the value of the good has nothing to do with labor.) is simply the flaw of modern economists and not the market system itself.

Subjective value theory is indeed nonsense, but this is not what I was arguing.

Production for Exchange:How exactly do use-value and exchange-value contradict each other ALL the time?

Sellers do not care about the use value of their product except insofar as it allows them to realize exchange value. Commodities must obviously be useful to somebody in order to possess any value, but they are merely means to an end in an endless circuit of accumulation.

How exactly does decentralized planning avoid the conflict between those who produce the product and the rest of society, who are unable to produce the product in question? Unless you want the producers of that particular product to give away the surplus of that product to the rest of society.

No such problem would exist under a system of participatory planning. Worker councils would negotiate the terms of production with consumer councils, thereby prudently orienting social labor toward socially desired ends.

Remunerative Justice:Genetic endowment? No, I do not consider any one person to be genetically superior to one another.

That genes influence individual differences is an indisputable fact. I do not consider myself a hereditarian, however, as such a deterministic doctrine is wholly unsuitable for explaining human variation. On the other hand, attempting to reduce human differences, particularly on the question of cognitive ability, to unidirectional environmental causality is also reductionist and therefore fallacious. This is why it is most appropriate to adopt a dialectical approach to understanding an organism's development, whereby genes, the individual organism, and the environment continuously interact to establish a ceaseless condition of being and becoming.

Genetic endowment was only one component of my criticism of the market's remunerative norms.

Again, how exactly does decentralized planning solve this problem without taking control away from the producer to the rest of society by forcing them to share with the rest of society?

It does not entail the suppression of self-management to any extent, and you seem to be under the mistaken impression that direct producers are somehow entitled to the full value of "their" product. This is false, as Marx cogently expressed in The Critique of the Gotha Program:

"Let us take, first of all, the words "proceeds of labor" in the sense of the product of labor; then the co-operative proceeds of labor are the total social product.

From this must now be deducted: First, cover for replacement of the means of production used up. Second, additional portion for expansion of production. Third, reserve or insurance funds to provide against accidents, dislocations caused by natural calamities, etc.

These deductions from the "undiminished" proceeds of labor are an economic necessity, and their magnitude is to be determined according to available means and forces, and partly by computation of probabilities, but they are in no way calculable by equity.

There remains the other part of the total product, intended to serve as means of consumption.
Before this is divided among the individuals, there has to be deducted again, from it: First, the general costs of administration not belonging to production. This part will, from the outset, be very considerably restricted in comparison with present-day society, and it diminishes in proportion as the new society develops. Second, that which is intended for the common satisfaction of needs, such as schools, health services, etc. From the outset, this part grows considerably in comparison with present-day society, and it grows in proportion as the new society develops. Third, funds for those unable to work, etc., in short, for what is included under so-called official poor relief today.

Only now do we come to the "distribution" which the program, under Lassallean influence, alone has in view in its narrow fashion -- namely, to that part of the means of consumption which is divided among the individual producers of the co-operative society.

The "undiminished" proceeds of labor have already unnoticeably become converted into the "diminished" proceeds, although what the producer is deprived of in his capacity as a private individual benefits him directly or indirectly in his capacity as a member of society."


Since social labor is, by definition, performed in the context of collective effort, society is justified in appropriating a portion of the social product. Individuals are not only engaged in and dependent upon an extensive division of labor, but they are the inheritors of all social knowledge. Therefore, unless one is a lone savage, they do not produce anything in isolation. "Forcing them to share with the rest of society" seems to imply that you are opposed to taxation of any sort, but this is an untenable position. It implicitly rests upon the indefensible self-ownership principle.

Also, how exactly is this connected to markets as opposed to capitalism?

Market socialism eliminates only one of the objections I raised above: namely, reward on the basis of property. While this is by no means a diminutive correction, it is insufficient for the fruition of true remunerative justice.

Workplace Hierarchy:Democracy is inefficient in a competitive setting? I would disagree actually. As for the different tasks of the workforce, federalism within the competing cooperatives can solve conflicts between the different divisions of labor.

The market reinforces the rift between coordinators and ordinary workers. I would argue that genuine workplace democracy could never be achieved in a market setting due to the fact that competition would act as a subversive element. It would be perfectly reasonable for workers to delegate important decisions to experts in order to satisfy the narrow "efficiency" criterion (profit maximization) imposed by the market. With the passage of time, the greater part of the workforce would cede to a structurally privileged minority.

Also, menial rote work and division of labor is required for any modern society, or else the goods and services associated with it are not going to be made.

It is possible to structure workplaces (within a non-market context) to offer balanced job complexes so that nobody would perpetually perform stultifying or uplifting work.

Antagonistic Roles:The thing is that I don't care about social cooperation, and I don't really consider it to be efficient at all.

That is quite a puzzling stance considering that socialists have historically embraced solidarity as a guiding principle. Does not socialism entail social fellowship? Nonetheless, even if you do not find value in cooperation per se, it is superior to competition. In No Contest: The Case Against Competition, Alfie Kohn persuasively argues that competition is generally deleterious, resulting in negative consequences for both society and the individual.

Anyways, what exactly prevents the competition between the producers (sellers in the market) and the rest of society? In fact, decentralized planning has nothing to offer aside from either a gift economy, having a decentralized democratic government control the economy, or becoming market socialism with labor notes. Gift economies are impractical due to people having different needs and wants, and control by the government means that the former buyers now rule over the producers. Even then, the buyers of a market economy are also producers, and thus the conflict is more about the interests of the individual enterprise versus the rest of society. This conflict is essentially resolve through the market with supply and demand.

I do not understand what you are on about. Do you care to substantiate your assertion that decentralized planning has "nothing to offer"? With respect to antagonistic roles, participatory planning functions on the basis of institutions designed to maximize solidarity. Furthermore, if planning is undertaken by worker and consumer councils, and the polity more or less parallels the participatory democracy in the economy, then how can this arrangement be considered unjust to the producers? Again, you seem to be exalting direct producers and fabricating some permanent state of "conflict" between them and "the rest of society." As argued above, this is an invalid position. It is the market which engenders this conflict, not production itself.

Supply and demand are the mechanisms by which the social labor process is coordinated under a system of indirect production. They "resolve" nothing other than to aimlessly direct an economy of private profit seekers.

Externalities:Okay, how does decentralized planning avoid this? This is a fact of life in civilization.

By properly accounting for them, eliminating them to whatever extent possible, and lacking any incentive to generate them. While negative externalities are to some degree inevitable in any economy, it is only the market which is both incapable of regulating them and provides individual enterprises with the perverse incentive to transfer their burdens onto others. For example, in a higher stage of syndicalism (participatory planning), pollution would be curtailed, as nobody would benefit from it—it would be impossible and unnecessary to divert the costs to other parties.

The Visible Hand: I am against economic planning by capitalist oligopolies.

My intent was to illustrate the indeterminacy of the social division of labor in the market, which indicates that its composition is basically arbitrary. Individual firms can theoretically subsume any stage of commodity production. For example, a firm producing a certain commodity, say computers, can create it from scratch, or it can purchase various components as constant capital from other companies. This alters the configuration of the social division of labor: the latter case is more segmented than the former. Modern industries are dominated by a handful of corporations, which more or less plan production within their sector. The market substitutes private planning for social planning, with the addition that the private coordination within firms must be mediated through blind market exchange between them. It is a ridiculous system.

The market is an archaic institution that has long outlived whatever usefulness it may have once had. This is vindicated every single day as new technologies render this antiquated mode of distribution unnecessary. Copyright laws, enacted to protect private profits, induce a situation of artificial scarcity. The open source movement defiantly challenges the reactionary desperation of private corporations to privatize resources that should be available to all in their last bid to maintain artificial scarcity. What is more, future technologies, such as advanced robotics, molecular nanotechnology (MNT), sophisticated 3D printing, pervasive cloud computing, biotechnology, sustainable energy, etc., are simply incompatible with production for exchange. These technologies will likely prove highly disruptive to capitalism, but primarily because they strike at the heart of exchange value—and so would present problems for market socialism also.

Anyways, considering that this thread is not in the opposing ideologies forum, we should be considering the market outside of capitalism, and we should focus on market socialism in particular.

Virtually everything I have discussed applies to market socialism as well as capitalism. I have deliberately avoided attaching the label of "capitalist" to the word market in my criticism for a reason.

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I finally got it done.

Post by Uberak on Sun May 05, 2013 4:31 pm

And the workers would be so happy to make products for the consumer council's demands, instead of making products for their own benefit. You're also forgetting that the market is composed of the people. This is different from the whole 'consumer democracy' narrative. What I mean is that the market is a sort of anarchy where individuals make mutual deals for their own benefit. In fact, what is the advantage of coordinately the social labor process directly? Also, there is information technology right now. Individuals can read up about the enterprises if they want to or can. And, you still have to labor to survive, since if you don't, there wouldn't be any commodities within the economy, all needs would be unfulfilled. The difference is that a market has the individual labor for his own benefit, while decentralized planning has the worker laboring for the collective of which he is a part of.

Okay. Considering we are talking about markets as a separate force from any sort of class system, social position doesn't factor over here.

What I meant by the subjective theory of value was about how you talked about commodity fetishism having consumers forget about the labor that was involved in producing the product. Of course, this can be explained by capitalists trying to justify exploitation by avoiding the whole question altogether. I was not criticizing you.

If two economic processes ultimately create the same conclusion such as producing products that are useful for people, you should go for the process that requires the least amount of government intervention. I do not see the problem with accumulation of wealth as long as it doesn't establish an economic rulership of one individual over another.

Again, this happens in a market economy, and a market economy allows individuals to negotiate trade instead of just a few large collectives. And again, how are the producers compensated appropriately for their labor? I mean, you're just advocating something chillingly similar to corporatism where the consumer councils take the role of the managers.

This is a very controversial subject, and we don't know the answer yet. (I simply advocated my hypothesis on said subject.) Still, if someone is more productive with his/her labor, why shouldn't they be compensated accordingly? If a firm made a better product than another, why not compensate it more? It is not perfect, but it is the best that we can work with.

I don't agree that it is false. Direct producers are entitled to all of their product's value. Of course, if a producer needs to make a deal with other producers to form their products, then they can make a deal where they share the value of the product they create. Also, I am not opposed to taxation, as taxation is merely an individual contributing a certain amount of money to the government so that the government can do its services. (Such as the armed forces, welfare, security, and etc.) This is very different from forcing producers to give away their products without appropriate compensation.

We don't need coordinators, and thus they wouldn't exist under a system of workers self-management. The differences between manual and creative labor would be resolved through cooperative federalism where they would be autonomous workplaces that agree to a constitutional deal with one another. For example, the developers of a video game would be one workplace while the factory that produces the discs and boxes would be another. Or the video game company can just buy from the manufacturing company.

How? What would be so different about decentralized planning that would cause jobs to magically become satisfying. People are going to be working on both computer programming and manufacturing the boxes and discs of said software?

This is why I prefer the term mutualism to describe my economics. Anyways, I'm fine with social cooperative/solidarity, and I find to be great if it empowers the individuals. For example is national solidarity for the success of a nation and solidarity between the workers of a cooperative to succeed in the market. However, I am against supposed social cooperation if it involves the social entity disempowering the individual such as not giving him/her compensation for their contributions.

The market already resolves the conflict between buyers and sellers already. What I was saying is that the conflict would appear in decentralized planning. For example, you would see producers (Who would be consumers for everything that is not produced by their industry.) striking to get a better deal with the consumer councils and consumers (Who would be producers within another industry.) boycotting producers to get a better deal for themselves. Considering the amount of conflict that exists in collective bargaining deals between workers and capitalists, what exactly would stop this conflict from occurring?

Externalities can be dealt with through both the law and new technologies. Again, it won't be perfect, but sometimes we have to deal with something that is less than perfect.

Not everything has to do with intellectual property. The internet is not going to have everything in it. There is still scarcity to producing food, for example.

The whole idea about automation and advanced robotics providing for increasing manufacturing productivity with less labor required actuallly falls flat on its face when the import price bias that the Bureau of Labor Statistic had not taken account for.

Nanotechnology is at the moment infeasible, and we don't know if it can even work. I can declare that global warming is not a problem since humanity will find FTL travel, but that doesn't make it true.

I think this article perfectly sums up 3D printing. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/426702/why-3-d-printing-will-go-the-way-of-virtual-reality/

Also, cloud computing is impractical for privacy and networking issues. Also, the technology doesn't give the consumer any control over their actual hardware. Sometimes, you want to insert a new graphics card or plug in a better keyboard for your computer.

Biotechnology isn't going to destroy the market system. I don't see how it would. It merely increases productivity in agriculture, which can be dealt with through shorter working hours. For the most part, I find biotechnology to actually be inferior to chemical and mechanical technologies, and there are flaws to its use in agriculture.

Sustainable energy would simply stabilize the energy market and cause the downfall of the oil oligopoly. There is still scarcity in the materials needed to harness the unlimited amounts of energy.
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Re: Markets

Post by Rev Scare on Fri May 17, 2013 4:10 am

In the future, I suggest you avail yourself of the quotation function when replying, as it greatly facilitates the exchange. It is far easier to follow the discussion when each response is preceded by the quote in question.

Uberak wrote:And the workers would be so happy to make products for the consumer council's demands, instead of making products for their own benefit.

I fail to see why not. In a participatory planned economy, consumer councils would serve to establish "demand" that would otherwise be articulated by the market haphazardly and at great risk to the producer, who would be forced to find sufficient buyers for his or her commodity or face ruination. (This is related to the wholly irrational—from the perspective of society—channeling of resources into the sales effort, as tens of billions of dollars are squandered in marketing and advertising to induce artificial wants. This reality would continue to obtain for market socialism.) The consumer councils are not compulsory organizations of any sort: their function is merely to assert society's desire for goods and services. Producer and consumer councils would negotiate the quantity and quality of the products to be produced.

In fact, despite the incontrovertible superiority of labor-managed firms over traditional capitalist businesses in relation to productivity and job satisfaction, the market impedes the self-realization of workers. As the political scientist, Robert Lane, concluded in his study on a series of worker cooperatives, "Marx was right. The market economy is unfavorable to worker priority [treating workers' needs first] . . . because any costs devoted to improving work life in the competitive part of the economy make a firm vulnerable to reduced sales and profits because of the violation of the efficiency norm" (The Market Experience. Cambridge University Press (1991), pp. 333-4). The market and its "efficiency norm" (of producing at the socially average labor time) drains workers' happiness regardless, it seems.

You're also forgetting that the market is composed of the people.

Yes, but the market entails certain social relations that are undesirable.

This is different from the whole 'consumer democracy' narrative. What I mean is that the market is a sort of anarchy where individuals make mutual deals for their own benefit.

The market is first and foremost a sphere of action where the law of value predominates. Market economies are those wherein a substantial section of goods and services are produced with the aim of selling to realize a profit. The pursuit of money as an end in itself is prioritized in a vicious circle.

[In fact, what is the advantage of coordinately the social labor process directly?

The advantages of planning should be obvious. Individuals perform labor in the context of society. This social labor should be rationally coordinated to meet the needs of all members of society and their common interests, not be subject to impersonal and irrational market imperatives. The profit motive and competition require that the individual remain beholden to the law of value—of producing at the socially necessary labor time. In order to survive in the market, firms must continually expand their profit margins so as to enhance efficiency and augment production. Individuals are thus slaves to the cycle of accumulation, alienated from their labor. We must produce for the sake of production and consume for the sake of consumption, all predicated on the need to accumulate value in the abstract (money). This is hardly an emancipatory state of affairs. It is positively dismal, socially irrational, and destructive of ourselves and our environment. We should desperately strive for something superior.

Planning can effectively overcome periodic economic crises, inequality between workers of different enterprises (and reduce those within them), the mindless hunt for abstract value, consumerism, dehumanizing alienation, and the general mystification that permeates all aspects of life in a market economy, from production, exchange, distribution, and consumption processes to ideas about "human nature."

Also, there is information technology right now. Individuals can read up about the enterprises if they want to or can.

Information technology cannot resolve the fundamental problem of commodity fetishism, which is the indirect nature of social labor under a system of commodity exchange. There is no conscious and comprehensive (i.e., involving considerations on a social scale, not merely parochial interests of short-term profit seekers) evaluation of what to produce, how to produce it, and under what conditions. It is also silly to believe that "individuals can read up about the enterprises if they want or can." As the video pertaining to consumer democracy linked above makes abundantly clear, they cannot.

And, you still have to labor to survive, since if you don't, there wouldn't be any commodities within the economy, all needs would be unfulfilled. The difference is that a market has the individual labor for his own benefit, while decentralized planning has the worker laboring for the collective of which he is a part of.

Under a market system, the individual also produces for society. His or her commodity must be useful to people in order to possess any value. The difference is that in the market individuals produce for profit rather than to satisfy human needs—these two conditions are not identical but antagonistic. Why shouldn't workers labor for the collective of which they are a part, for the betterment of their communities?

What I meant by the subjective theory of value was about how you talked about commodity fetishism having consumers forget about the labor that was involved in producing the product. Of course, this can be explained by capitalists trying to justify exploitation by avoiding the whole question altogether. I was not criticizing you.

The "subjective" theory of value attempts to explain the exchange value (expressed in money form as price) of commodities in terms of the "marginal utility" they provide consumers given (market induced) resource constraints. It is not germane to the topic of commodity fetishism, which stems from the fact that our labor is indirectly social in the market. Honestly, it hardly matters whether one accepts the labor theory of value or not. Markets are unnecessary and detestable enough as it is without recourse to Marx's theory of value to critique them.

If two economic processes ultimately create the same conclusion such as producing products that are useful for people, you should go for the process that requires the least amount of government intervention. I do not see the problem with accumulation of wealth as long as it doesn't establish an economic rulership of one individual over another.

First of all, markets and planning beget entirely different outcomes. The former enshrines a principle of maximal profit acquisition while the latter allows for conscious, conscientious and rational organization of the social labor process. The conclusion is that their consequences are incomparable. Second of all, participatory planning does not require a government agency to intervene in the economy. Worker and consumer councils and planning boards would suffice. In any case, your implication that the government is somehow detached from the rest of society is false. The state, under capitalism, is a regime in the service of the ruling class, but in a democratic workers' commonwealth, it would be accountable to all citizens, and as such, would be in a much more suitable position to respond to the needs of the public.

Again, this happens in a market economy, and a market economy allows individuals to negotiate trade instead of just a few large collectives. And again, how are the producers compensated appropriately for their labor? I mean, you're just advocating something chillingly similar to corporatism where the consumer councils take the role of the managers.

Nothing of the sort. Just remuneration is premised upon effort and sacrifice: namely, the duration of work, the onerousness of work, and effort involved. It repudiates such factors as brute luck, property, and the capriciousness of markets. This is precisely what planning can accomplish. Consumer councils, as previously stated, perform no managerial role. Workers would self-manage their own workplaces in accordance with a common plan; consumer councils allow people in the role of consumers to propose their desired income. They would formulate the terms of production and consumption until a plan was agreed upon. This is a wholly democratic manner of organizing human labor.

As was explained to you in the preceding post, modern markets are already highly concentrated. The following quote by Marx in Capital Vol I. encapsulates the trend under capitalism well, but it applies equally to market socialism, as it continues to preserve the law of value.

“That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime.”

Therefore, we see that the antiquated system of universalized commodity exchange gradually concentrates the productive forces and in equal proportion expands the "cooperative form of the labour process." The embryo of modern socialist (communal) planning emerges from the graduated reproduction of capital itself.

Your petty-bourgeois fantasy of decentralized property owners exchanging harmoniously in a purified market is simply delusional.

if someone is more productive with his/her labor, why shouldn't they be compensated accordingly? If a firm made a better product than another, why not compensate it more? It is not perfect, but it is the best that we can work with.

Socialism presumes equality of condition. In order for the slogan "for each according to his ability, to each according to his need" to be realized, we must abandon the idea that individuals should be compensated for advantages they wield over others, whether they be genetic, environmental, or structural. We must recognize that people possess unequal capacities and needs, and these should be considered rather than the ability to labor below the socially imposed average (as in the market).

The remunerative norms of the market are absolutely not "the best we can work with."

I don't agree that it is false. Direct producers are entitled to all of their product's value. Of course, if a producer needs to make a deal with other producers to form their products, then they can make a deal where they share the value of the product they create. Also, I am not opposed to taxation, as taxation is merely an individual contributing a certain amount of money to the government so that the government can do its services. (Such as the armed forces, welfare, security, and etc.) This is very different from forcing producers to give away their products without appropriate compensation.

If you insist that direct producers receive the undiminished proceeds of their labor, then you implicitly endorse the self-ownership principle espoused by propertarians. Of course, given your petit-bourgeois (neo-mutualist) values, it is hardly surprising that you would affirm this normative rule, but to maintain consistency in your views, you must also reject taxation and the welfare state, as these would be tantamount to "coercion." This notion is incompatible with socialist equality.

We don't need coordinators, and thus they wouldn't exist under a system of workers self-management. The differences between manual and creative labor would be resolved through cooperative federalism where they would be autonomous workplaces that agree to a constitutional deal with one another. For example, the developers of a video game would be one workplace while the factory that produces the discs and boxes would be another. Or the video game company can just buy from the manufacturing company.

You seem to misunderstand the role of coordinators in the division of labor dictated by the market. The coordinator class monopolizes empowering work, such as in science and engineering, academia, middle to upper management, law, etc. It denotes a group of structurally privileged workers who, by way of their skills, access to information, and influence, more or less direct those below them. Such a hierarchy is reinforced in market economies through the constant need to reduce costs, expand profits, and extend production. Even if democratic self-management were the official basis for workplace organization, it would be reasonable—indeed, necessary—to relegate particularly empowering tasks to more qualified individuals in order to remain competitive.

How? What would be so different about decentralized planning that would cause jobs to magically become satisfying. People are going to be working on both computer programming and manufacturing the boxes and discs of said software?

Balanced job complexes are a means by which to overcome the strict division of labor that people have been subordinated to since the advent of agriculture. In essence, the guiding principle would be to apportion the tasks inside and between workplaces so that each worker would receive an average mix of rote and empowering labor. The details of how precisely to effect this change will obviously vary from one workplace to the next, as well as between industries.

This is why I prefer the term mutualism to describe my economics. Anyways, I'm fine with social cooperative/solidarity, and I find to be great if it empowers the individuals. For example is national solidarity for the success of a nation and solidarity between the workers of a cooperative to succeed in the market. However, I am against supposed social cooperation if it involves the social entity disempowering the individual such as not giving him/her compensation for their contributions.

I take issue with your definition of "contribution." Under your proposed system, workers with better access to tools, equipment, land, raw materials, customers, etc., would be rewarded more highly for trivial reasons, merely due to an unfair structural advantage. Rewarding individuals by the amount of labor time they invest and eventually corresponding to their needs are much more equitable, to say nothing of attractive, alternatives.

The market already resolves the conflict between buyers and sellers already. What I was saying is that the conflict would appear in decentralized planning. For example, you would see producers (Who would be consumers for everything that is not produced by their industry.) striking to get a better deal with the consumer councils and consumers (Who would be producers within another industry.) boycotting producers to get a better deal for themselves. Considering the amount of conflict that exists in collective bargaining deals between workers and capitalists, what exactly would stop this conflict from occurring?

These councils are not analogous to corporativist collective bargaining in either function or form. Corporatism is the farcical attempt to reconcile opposing class interests through the formation of unions, relying upon the state as a hypothetically neutral intermediary. It enforces the distinction between workers and capitalists under the guise of "national interests," and in historical practice, the state was always predictably partial to the bourgeoisie. By contrast, the syndicalist planned economy I have thus far propounded as a superior alternative to markets is devoid of such class conflict, yet my argument continues to elude you. To reiterate: worker and consumer syndicates (unions or councils) would each offer proposals according to what, how, and how much to produce; their various proposals would then be aggregated, interpreted, and processed by Iteration Facilitation Boards (similar in concept to the Fédération des Bourses du travail of the French revolutionary syndicalist tradition) in the formation of a coherent plan.

Externalities can be dealt with through both the law and new technologies. Again, it won't be perfect, but sometimes we have to deal with something that is less than perfect
Since worker-owners in market socialism would be subject to more or less the same motivations as capitalists (i.e., cost reduction and profit maximization in order to remain competitive), they would also cut corners on quality and safety whenever it outweighed the potential risks. Your reformist take on externalities begs the question of why we should tolerate such a perverse incentive structure in the first place.

Not everything has to do with intellectual property. The internet is not going to have everything in it.

I did not limit my contention that the law of value is doomed to intellectual property. By design, intellectual property introduces artificial scarcity where none exists. I emphasized open source because it most clearly exemplifies the decline of producing for exchange. Software, after it is produced, has no value, and publishers must literally decide upon an arbitrary price, hoping that consumers will pay to use their easily reproducible "product" by lofty moral appeals and state protection. It can be replicated indefinitely at virtually zero cost, and no additional labor is required. 3D printing, once it matures, promises to do much the same for physical use values.

What this reduces to is a seriously diminishing pool of labor with respect to machines, and since labor is the sole source of value, it would necessarily involve the shrinking of surplus value (the source of profit). In Marxist theory, it would translate to a highly disproportionate organic composition of capital (which, despite various countervailing factors that are beyond the scope of this thread, cannot be fully repressed in the long-run), strangling the profitability of enterprise, whilst a simultaneous tendency impedes the further expansion of markets (i.e., ingrained in the contradiction between use value and exchange value).

There is still scarcity to producing food
That very much depends upon your definition of "scarcity." If by scarcity you mean natural limits, then sure, there is certainly scarcity, although these natural restrictions have been and continue to be redefined by the steady pace of technological progress. If by scarcity you refer to artificially induced wants, inequality, and gross misallocation of resources in the service of profit, then I must disagree. While bourgeois economists would have us believe that human wants are insatiable and resources scarce, this apparent insufficiency is largely the result of market forces.

With respect to food, in particular, world hunger is a most contemptible byproduct of capitalist development, not natural constraints. After all, millions starve even in the industrialized countries. Frances Moore Lappé et al. have conclusively debunked this widely held misconception in World Hunger: Twelve Myths:

"The world produces enough grain alone to provide every human being with thirty-five hundred calories a day. That's enough to make most people fat! And this estimate does not even count many other commonly eaten foods—vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. In fact, if all foods are considered together, enough is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day. That includes two and a half pounds of grain, beans, and nuts; about a pound of fruits and vegetables; and nearly another pound of meat, milk, and eggs.

Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the supply of food in the world today. Increases in food production during the past thirty-five years have outstripped the world's unprecedented population growth by about 16 percent."

p. 8

Inequality and production for exchange are the real causes of world hunger.

The whole idea about automation and advanced robotics providing for increasing manufacturing productivity with less labor required actuallly falls flat on its face when the import price bias that the Bureau of Labor Statistic had not taken account for.

Nanotechnology is at the moment infeasible, and we don't know if it can even work. I can declare that global warming is not a problem since humanity will find FTL travel, but that doesn't make it true.

I think this article perfectly sums up 3D printing. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/426702/why-3-d-printing-will-go-the-way-of-virtual-reality/

Also, cloud computing is impractical for privacy and networking issues. Also, the technology doesn't give the consumer any control over their actual hardware. Sometimes, you want to insert a new graphics card or plug in a better keyboard for your computer.

Biotechnology isn't going to destroy the market system. I don't see how it would. It merely increases productivity in agriculture, which can be dealt with through shorter working hours. For the most part, I find biotechnology to actually be inferior to chemical and mechanical technologies, and there are flaws to its use in agriculture.
I do not desire to partake in a detailed discussion about the hypothetical merits of future technologies that are today only in their infancy. Your pessimism regarding the advancement of technology aside, my true intent was to indicate that the capitalist mode of production, and the value form more broadly, is historically specific and fated to demise one day (hopefully sooner than later), as all class societies before it. The continual displacement of human labor power with mechanical power means that, in the long-run, the rate of profit will approach zero (even if it never truly does so) while the market to absorb the mass of commodities that must be sold to realize said profit erodes. The economic crises that are inherent to market economies and reappear regardless of all attempts to control them prove that systems bound to the law of value must be transcended one day if the further development of the productive forces is to continue. As such, I find it counterproductive for socialists to base their long-term vision of a post-capitalist society upon such an inimical and obsolete production logic as the law of value.

Without delving into the meat and potatoes of crisis theory, I think it is safe to say that there are logical limits to producing for profit. If we imagine a state of full automation, then this relative abundance of resources without appreciable labor content could not possibly realize any surplus value (profit). The near total replacement of human labor would mean that output costs could not exceed input costs. Upon what basis would they, as no extra labor is introduced? Value would disappear, as there would be neither a need to sell nor a competitive edge. Such a theoretical extreme is hardly necessary, of course. By the time a market economy approached this scenario, the powerful contradictions in a society would likely lead to its dissolution. Technologies like the aforementioned, with the potential to drastically reduce human labor, offer us a glimpse into such a future.

“As soon as labour in its direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and therefore exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. The surplus labour of the masses has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth, just as the non-labour of the few has ceased to be the condition for the development of the general powers of the human head. With that, production based upon exchange breaks down.”
Marx. Grundrisse.

Sustainable energy would simply stabilize the energy market and cause the downfall of the oil oligopoly. There is still scarcity in the materials needed to harness the unlimited amounts of energy.
Sustainable energy, especially once it can be harnessed by local communities and households with relatively little overhead cost, would decimate one of capitalism's leading sources of surplus value.


Last edited by Rev Scare on Fri May 17, 2013 7:48 am; edited 18 times in total

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Re: Markets

Post by Leveller on Fri May 17, 2013 6:42 am

Rev Scare wrote:In a participatory planned economy, consumer councils would serve to establish "demand" that would otherwise be articulated by the market haphazardly and at great risk to the producer, who would be forced to find sufficient buyers for his or her commodity or face ruination. (This is related to the wholly irrational—from the perspective of society—channeling of resources into the sales effort, as tens of billions of dollars are squandered in marketing and advertising to induce artificial wants. This reality would continue to obtain for market socialism.)

In my view, abolishing capitalism would also mean abolishing marketing, being that all rent will be considered parasitism, renting some space so someone could post a commercial on it would be non-extant.

The market economy is unfavorable to worker priority [treating workers' needs first] . . . because any cost devoted to improving work life in the competitive part of the economy make a firm vulnerable to reduced sales and profits because of the violation of the efficiency norm" (The Market Experience. Cambridge University Press (1991), pp. 333-4). The market and its "efficiency norm" (of producing at the socially average labor time) drains workers' happiness regardless, it seems.

I think this would not be a big problem, because socialist markets will be reduced, being that in socialism it would be more efficient to function on a local market, then to federate with other cooperatives that are far away or just transport good to remote locations. Cooperatives have to do that in today's world, like Modragon, because they're competing with capitalist firms that exploit people, and thus they have to make up for that and try be competative witht them, but in a socialist market, the more efficiant option would be to go local, because there are no competitors that exploit.

If you insist that direct producers receive the undiminished proceeds of their labor, then you implicitly endorse the self-ownership principle espoused by propertarians. Of course, given your petit-bourgeois (neo-mutualist) values, it is hardly surprising that you would affirm this normative rule, but to maintain consistency in your views, you must also reject taxation and the welfare state, as these would be tantamount to "coercion."

I know it's not directed at me, but I just want to say that I do endorse the self-ownership principle, only I call it the principle of individual sovereignty (because people cannot legitimately be property) and it's not just that I don't see anything wrong it, I am convinced that this principle is undenyable, that is- an axiom.

I also am a 'neo-mutualist', I am not a marxist and I do not accept that there exist such a thing as "petit-bourgeois", those are just workers that own their meas of production. If they don't exploit anyone they are not capitalists of any sort, big or small.

And thirdly, I also not only see no contradiction in my upholding of self-ownership/ individual sovereignty and view that there should exist a minarchist (directly democratic) republic, but I see it as a contradiction in someone's upholding of any principle that concerns itself with existential ethics and advocation of it's establishment among people- and failure to advocate a state (or some state-like, that is- non-voluntary) enforcement of such principle.

This notion is incompatible with socialist equality.

If you don't accept this principle, I don't see how can you see capitalism as exploitative. Maybe unfair/ unjust due to the inequality of wealth and power, but exploitation is defined by the consistent application of labor theory of property (workers not receiving the full fruit of their labor) which rests upon the principle of self-ownership/ individual sovereignty.

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