4 Responses to “The self-overcoming of labor: beyond capitalism (audio recording)”

  1. Noa says:

    When you speak at 11.55 about the “value of labor”, to be clear Marx’s whole discovery (ie his breakthrough from Smith et al.) is the difference between labor-power and labor. Labor has no value. The industrial revolution has little to do with this. The societal change that Smith did not theoretically register (yet) perhaps is that from a society with a majority of simple commodity producers to one of capitalist commodity production (ie where wage-labor becomes a commodity).

  2. Noa says:

    correction: “where labour-power becomes a commodity”

  3. The slippage of labor and labor-power as a commodity is deliberate.

    The distinction is itself the contradiction that needs to be addressed. Labor is itself split between the social relation and the value-form in the valorization process of capital. The value-form of labor(-power) as a commodity is split — between wage-labor and capital.

    As Lukacs summarized it,

    It is not only a question of the completely mechanical, ‘mindless’ work of the lower echelons of the bureaucracy which bears such an extraordinarily close resemblance to operating a machine and which indeed often surpasses it in sterility and uniformity. It is also a question, on the one hand, of the way in which objectively all issues are subjected to an increasingly formal and standardised treatment and in which there is an ever-increasing remoteness from the qualitative and material essence of the ‘things’ to which bureaucratic activity pertains. On the other hand, there is an even more monstrous intensification of the one-sided specialisation which represents such a violation of man’s humanity. Marx’s comment on factory work that “the individual, himself divided, is transformed into the automatic mechanism of a partial labour” and is thus “crippled to the point of abnormality” is relevant here too. And it becomes all the more clear, the more elevated, advanced and ‘intellectual’ is the attainment exacted by the division of labour.

    The split between the worker’s labour-power and his personality, its metamorphosis into a thing, an object that he sells on the market is repeated here too. But with the difference that not every mental faculty is suppressed by mechanisation; only one faculty (or complex of faculties) is detached from the whole personality and placed in opposition to it, becoming a thing, a commodity. But the basic phenomenon remains the same even’ though both the means by which society instills such abilities and their material and ‘moral’ exchange value are fundamentally different from labour-power (not forgetting, of course, the many connecting links and nuances).


  4. Noa says:

    I can give my own confused thought; If labor-power (in communism) will no longer be a commodity, it just means that it does not get sold, but not that it ceases to exist objectively. And according to the Gotha critique only in communism will labor (not labor-power) be renumerated, ie the point is that labor is not just rewarded by a full value equivalent, but for the first time you are rewarded really by your labor, and not your labor-power. That would be a realisation of bourgeois right. This is still called just the lower phase of communism. Though at the same time equality is an impossible goal, since everyone’s labor is different. Even if two people needed the exact same amount of products to reproduce their labor-power, their performed labor will be different (given the fact that our natural faculties are different).

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