Also, if someone is reading something else, like the East India book, and finds a good concrete example of one of Marx's ideas, it would be good if they post it here. I find that applying the ideas to reality is helpful to me.
Maybe that would allow us to get back up to speed, (end of Chapter 3, or am I way out of touch)?
We could then go back to discussing a Chapter every week or two.
Any analysis which still does not make sense after 150 years, causes people to think that it only seems like nonsense if they are idiots, and brought untold misery to millions of innocent people wherever its devotees have tried to put it into practice, is about as useful as yesterdays Irish Sun.
There is such a reflex in Ireland to come out with this "millions of innocent people" stuff (Marx never raised a hand in anger, so far as I know) that I'm beginning to have the impression that the view of Marx here was mainly formed by the Church, and threat of excommunication, rather than first hand reading of Marx.
I'm planning to start again but it won't be this side of Christmas. I will continue to do it through the Harvey lectures and will post my understanding of each section here.
A time between ashes and roses is coming
When everything shall be extinguished
When everything shall begin
Unfortunately, the book I'm reading (John Keay's "The Honourable Company") isn't well indexed, and I've not been keeping notes on these concrete examples, so I'm reliant on memory.Also, if someone is reading something else, like the East India book, and finds a good concrete example of one of Marx's ideas, it would be good if they post it here. I find that applying the ideas to reality is helpful to me.
In relation to use / exchange values, though, I do recall enjoying the accounts of how the English, having had heavy woolen broadcloth as their prestige export since the middle ages, shipping large volumes into nothern Europe, tried unloading it on the inhabitants of the tropical spice islands, in exchange for pepper and nutmeg. What they thought had a secure exchange value collapsed because of local lack of use value?
They saw fairly quickly that there wasn't a market there for it, but their efforts in Japan (wouldn't buy it because the English themselves weren't wearing it - bad advertisement for use-value?) and along the Indian coast (a little sold for fitting out horses - a switch of use value?) didn't fare much better.
Eventually, pissed off by local resistance to their attempts to short-circuit long-established trade routes, they hijacked at Hormuz the cargoes of a load of trading dhows from India, cottons and batiks, and forced them to accept broadcloth in exchange. Apparently that's gone down in Indian history as an act of unprovoked piracy. One man's exchange value ain't necessarily another's, it would seem.
Okay, I'll start taking notes.
To be honest, I'm still somewhere in Chapter 1, but I think it would make sense for the duscussion to trundle on, and for me just to return to that in my own time. It's not like there aren't plenty of summaries online. If I try crossing all the "i"s, I'll never get anywhere. Onward!Maybe that would allow us to get back up to speed, (end of Chapter 3, or am I way out of touch)?
We could then go back to discussing a Chapter every week or two.
Lol! love that description of trade. Del Boy didn't come out of nowhere.....
I still keep going back to Chapter One. The trickiest maybe, but also very rewarding and full of stuff worth chewing on.
Im putting it on temporary hold till after Xmas, work is mental and Im too busy trying to plan a trip abroad !
They may crush the flowers, and trample every living thing but they cant stop the spring..
www.fluffybiscuits.org - Alternatives and Opinions on the World...
I'm interested and will read the thread if not actively contribute. I've got no internet most of the time and also no copy of the book, so can't really participate that much atm. Hope it does get going though, and I'll check back again.
Lenin wrote a some handy short guides to Marxism. One of them "Karl Marx - A Brief biographical sketch with an exposition of Marxism" has a good piece on "Marx's Economic Doctrine."
It's worth noting that economics is only one part of Marxism, the other parts being philosophical (dialectical) materialism - "theory of knowledge," and materialist (evolutionary) history - of which the class struggle and the economic base of society areimportant 'drivers.'
Lenin points out, in the section of Economic Doctrine, that Marx was not trying in Capital to set out fixed for all times rules for how economies work, he was "laying bare the economic law of motion of modern society" - i.e. capitalist society.
He is investigating "the relations of production a given, historically-defined society," in its origins, development and decline.
As the production of commodities is the main feature of capitalism, Marx starts out in Capital by "dissecting" the various different aspects of commodities, relating to exchange, value and production etc. - starting with value.
A commodity is, in the first place, a thing that satisfies a human want; in the second place, it is a thing that can be exchanged for another thing.
The utility of a thing makes it a use-value.
Exchange-value (or, simply, value), is first of all the ratio, the proportion, in which a certain number of use-values of one kind can be exchanged for a certain number of use-values of another kind.
Daily experience shows us that million upon millions of such exchanges are constantly equating with one another every kind of use-value, even the most diverse and incomparable. Now, what is there in common between these various things. things constantly equated with one another in a definite system of social relations? Their common feature is that they are products of labor. In exchanging products, people equate the most diverse kinds of labor.
The production of commodities is a system of social relations in which individual producers create diverse products (the social division of labor), and in which all these products are equated with one another in the process of exchange. Consequently, what is common to all commodities is not the concrete labor of a definite branch of production, not labor of one particular kind, but abstract human labor—human labor in general. All the labor power of a given society, as represented in the sum total of the values of all commodities, is one and the same human labor power. Thousands upon thousands of millions of acts of exchange prove this.
Consequently, each particular commodity represents only a certain share of the socially necessary labor time.
The magnitude of value is determined by the amount of socially necessary labor, or by the labor time that is socially necessary for the production of a given commodity, of a given use-value.
Last edited by C. Flower; 04-12-2011 at 04:46 PM.
Visiting a museum the other day, I came across the copy of Das Kapital, sent by Karl Marx to Charles Darwin. It was dedicated "from your sincere admirer, Karl Marx, 16 June 1873."
Darwin was a slow reader in German, but seems to have read it and replied to Marx after a few months -
"Though our studies have been different I believe that we both desire the extension of knowledge, and that this in the long run is sure to add to the happiness of mankind. I remain, yours faithfully, Charles Darwin"
Das Kapital is a description of capitalism as an evolving system, with a beginning, middle and an assumed ending, over time. It's a very different approach to other writers who try to look at it as a fixed, ideal, system.
Picked up from the Cedar Lounge Revolution, a very useful post on John Lanchester's article and podcast (follow links) on "Marx at 193."
Lanchester looks at the world today "through the eyes of Marx." Some things, in particular the mass exploitation of people for manufacturing labour in the East, he says are exactly as forecast by Marx. He also makes some criticisms and suggestions.
The concept of surplus value is discussed in a modern context.
I'm going to listen to the podcast and read the article before Sunday and will be online to discuss it if anyone else is interested.
While I disagree with some things Lanchester says, it is a very accessible and direct article, that opens up important topics for discussion.
Someone else, Richard Wolff, applying Marxist analysis to the current crisis. About half an hour, time well spent.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6hfl5CK4Do"]Richard D Wolff on the Greek Crisis (exclusive interview) - YouTube[/ame]
Perhaps there are two type's of 'mainstream' economists, the ones who can't explain are the ones who wholeheartedly believe in the capitalist system, believe that it is unbreakable! hence are at a loss to explain 'the breakdown' , a bit like the owners of the titanic, they too will only realise their folly when they are up to their necks in the water! (this group are very much in the minority)
The second group are the ones that have read Marx and understand it, but will deny it all, hence you have the likes of Smith, Hayek and Friedman, and they use this and other stuff like libertarianism to set up the 'anti-thesis', e.g they use Marxist concepts but use a different label, i.e return to competitiveness = equivalent to Marx 'restoring the rate of profit'.
It's not a case of not being able to explain the current crisis, they know full well what caused it and will continue to cause more recessions, its a case of them refusing to explain it, because if they did, they would be exposed for the hypocrites they are ...
e.g how many times have you heard David McWilliams et al say " there will be more recessions, we know that recessions do happen", of course Marx said the same, but he did not say they 'just happened' , he explained in Capital , how and why recessions happen! Of course lamestream media will never question them on this!
So in essence its not a case of them not been able to explain , its a case of them refusing to explain and aided and abetted by the media, who don't ask the 'hard questions' !!!
p.s good luck with DAS KAPITAL, its a brain breaker and a head wrecker all in one lol