ok, then, what is capitalism?

borderpolice

Well-known member
bat020 said:
True but irrelevant. "Risking a loss" isn't working – it's gambling.

True but irrelevant. All this shows is that investors may have worked in the past. But they
do not work for moneys they receive from investing (interest, dividends, rent etc) – ie investors qua investors do not work.
confused! if somebody has worked in the past, what should they do with
the money, consume anything on the spot? is that even possible? all work is done
for future benefit. even the mytholkogical totally unexploited worker who gets the fair
share of his toil, when he buys a piece of bread does so with money he acquired in
the past. any future orientated behaviour is gambling in this sense. it is in other
words impossible not do "speculate", "invest" or, and this is the same thing, "gamble".

As an aside: you only refer to the money investors make. what about the money they
loose? if the investor looses his money through investing (default, stock market crash
etc) then what? he presumable just prints new money for investing?

as a further aside, how do you square the claim of worker exploitation with the fact that
most invested money, through pension and insurance schemes is actually the workers?
they exploit themselves then?


bat020 said:
No, Nazi ideology distinguishes between industrial and ", venerating the former while vilifying the latter. Finance capital (banking, moneylending etc) is thereby made a scapegoat for capitalism in general, which opens the door to all the standard racist tropes of Jew-as-parasite. But that is quite different from the Marxist position, which views all capitalist investment as exploitative.
the most commonly used distinction in this context was between "schaffendes
kapital" (i.e. those who work and create) and "raffendes Kapital" (i.e. those who live of interest, exploit others, consume).

you should read your own posts! you explicitly criticise "finance capital" only, through
repeated reference to mythological "investors" who "do not work for moneys they receive
from investing (interest, dividends, rent etc) ". You didnt criticise "industrial capital"
in your posts. Nothing in your posts here is about anything other than finance capital.
 
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borderpolice

Well-known member
k-punk said:
There's a difference between saving and investing. Investors don't expect their investments to be 'fairly treated', they, self-evidently, want to make a profit from them.
oh really? tell me more. there is no substantial difference between saving and investing.
the terms denote different <I>perceived</I> risk-taking profiles. and of course investors expect
to be treaded fairly. the interesting question is: what does it mean to be fair to somebodies
risk taking profile, given that it is by definition about an unknown future.

k-punk said:
Comparison to Nazis, so early in the thread? Well done...
it's always fun to point out ideological similarities ...

k-punk said:
As for Labour Theory of Value, it is not at all clear that Marx endorsed it. As it happens, I'm reading a book at the moment - Karatani's Transcritique - which holds that it was early socialist economists like Ricardo who believed in the LTOV, and that everything that was interesting in Marx came out of a critique of that view.
The LToV was the dominant account of value at the time and Marx grappled with it, yes.
what;s interesting in marx is that he coupled it with hegelian social constructivism and
historicism. This was the first comprehensive social theory that also included the economy
[to be fair, Hegel himself had written much about it, but the relevant manuscrips are lost].
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
borderpolice said:
the most commonly used nazi distinction was between "schaffendes kapital" (i.e. those
who work) and "raffendes Kapital" (i.e. those who live of interest, exploit others).
you should read your own posts! you explicitly criticise "finance capital" only, through
repeated reference to mythological "investors" who "do not work for moneys they receive
from investing (interest, dividends, rent etc) ". You didnt criticise "industrial capital"
in your posts. Nothing in your posts here is about anything other than finance capital.
Who is it that directly exploits the workers in the LToV? It's the bosses, i.e. industrial capital. This discussion about investors is additional to, and related to, that relationship.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
john eden said:
Who is it that directly exploits the workers in the LToV? It's the bosses, i.e. industrial capital. This discussion about investors is additional to, and related to, that relationship.
you are now introducing an ad-hoc auxiliary distinction between "direct" and "indirect" exploitation. what could that refer to?

anyway. the term "boss" is insufficiently precise in any earnest discussion. "industrial capital" refers to the owners of the means of production and was distinguished from other forms of capital like land, or money. this may have made sense in early industrial development, where
a factory owner could have operated fairly autonomously. given the dependency on modern
production an a steady flow of credit, this is no longer a workable distinction.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
borderpolice said:
you are now introducing an ad-hoc auxiliary distinction between "direct" and "indirect" exploitation. what could that refer to?

anyway. the term "boss" is insufficiently precise in any earnest discussion. "industrial capital" refers to the owners of the means of production and was distinguished from other forms of capital like land, or money. this may have made sense in early industrial development, where
a factory owner could have operated fairly autonomously. given the dependency on modern
production an a steady flow of credit, this is no longer a workable distinction.
My point is that, as a worker, you are more likely to come in to contact with "bosses" than, shall we say "shareholders". That has been my experience anyway.
I am sorry if you find these terms imprecise, I am not an economist.
 

Jezmi

Olli Oliver Steichelsmein
I think respinsibility is an underrated aspect of the discussion between capitalism and socialism.
A business owner/investor holds all the cards in his/her own hands, and will rise and fall by his/her tactics.
A worker expects a good job to provide security, while they could be fired any day! But giving responibility to another party does give peace of mind. That is the main reason why workers don't become investors/business owners, the trade-off doesn't seem worth it (whilest really it is).
Ofcourse a big difference between nowadays and the time of Marx, is that capitalism has evolved to a point where most people can build up a business. Education and credit are available.
 

johneffay

Well-known member
borderpolice said:
without the LToV, the socialist conception of exploitation is in ruins. this doesn't mean exploitation is a meaningless concept, just that it's most prominent theoretical redition is
BS.
I'm not at all sure that all socialist conceptions of exploitation do depend upon the LToV, but we'll let that pass. What I would like to know is which conceptions of exploitation you do find meaningful, and what you think can be done about them (if you think anything should be). I'm getting a lot of hostility towards a general leftist position (not all of which I disagree with), but I would be much more interested in hearing your take on the original question.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
Jezmi said:
Ofcourse a big difference between nowadays and the time of Marx, is that capitalism has evolved to a point where most people can build up a business. Education and credit are available.
you make the same mistake that socialist usually make. you take your local society as
all of society. you take national borders as society borders. however, we are living in a totally globalised world. there is only one society, world society. in this world society there are clearly may totally excluded, maybe even the majority of the world population. most of those do not benefit from the benefits of ordo-capitalism with formal democracy and functional differentiation between the legal, economic, political, educational etc systems, things we in the west take for granted.
 

Jezmi

Olli Oliver Steichelsmein
borderpolice said:
you make the same mistake that socialist usually make. you take your local society as
all of society. you take national borders as society borders. however, we are living in a totally globalised world. there is only one society, world society. in this world society there are clearly may totally excluded, maybe even the majority of the world population. most of those do not benefit from the benefits of ordo-capitalism with formal democracy and functional differentiation between the legal, economic, political, educational etc systems, things we in the west take for granted.
Fair enough (funny that i sound like a socialist, i consider myself anything but that)
But a big reason why third world countries is because of processes that are not part of capitalism, like farm subsidies -- we're keeping a unnatural way of farming in business and keeping farmers from third world countries from developing.
These are not processes of capitalism -- which would call for free-market.
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
johneffay said:
I'm not at all sure that all socialist conceptions of exploitation do depend upon the LToV, but we'll let that pass. What I would like to know is which conceptions of exploitation you do find meaningful, and what you think can be done about them (if you think anything should be). I'm getting a lot of hostility towards a general leftist position (not all of which I disagree with), but I would be much more interested in hearing your take on the original question.
I'm not sure what the original question is. i have no substantial theory of exploitation,
just a keen appreciation that older theories on that matter are deeply problematic. here
are a couple of points if find worthwhile: (1) economic fairness cannot be tied to worked
time units. risk taking needs to be accounted for. (2) exploitation cannot be explained in
economic terms. ownership patterns are effects not causes of social organisation. (3)
exploitation in an intuitive sense (i.e. that which is to be explained) seems worse in the
third world, and correlates strongly with <B>lack of functional differentiation</B>, i.e.
lack of division between politics, economy, the legal and educational systems and so forth.
one of the key effects of functional differentiation is to restrain power accumulation.
e.g straightforward buying onself into government, buying judges and the like.
 

Jezmi

Olli Oliver Steichelsmein
borderpolice said:
<B>lack of functional differentiation</B>, i.e.
lack of division between politics, economy, the legal and educational systems and so forth.
one of the key effects of functional differentiation is to restrain power accumulation.
e.g straightforward buying onself into government, buying judges and the like.
Wasn't this the main downfall of all communist states?
Just an interesting side note...
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
borderpolice said:
oh really? tell me more. there is no substantial difference between saving and investing.
the terms denote different <I>perceived</I> risk-taking profiles. and of course investors expect
to be treaded fairly. the interesting question is: what does it mean to be fair to somebodies
risk taking profile, given that it is by definition about an unknown future.
Investors expect to make money from their money; I can't see what's 'fair' about that (any more than it is 'fair' for someone who bets on a horse race to expect to make dividends on that). Savers expect their money to be looked after. I agree that, because of interest etc, many savers are also investors. But the one doesn't entail the other.

It's not a case of 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's risk' surely. Risk is by its nature aleatory and destructive of the whole concept of fairness.

it's always fun to point out ideological similarities ...
especially when it makes you fall foul of Godwin's Law.

The LToV was the dominant account of value at the time and Marx grappled with it, yes.
what;s interesting in marx is that he coupled it with hegelian social constructivism and
historicism. This was the first comprehensive social theory that also included the economy
[to be fair, Hegel himself had written much about it, but the relevant manuscrips are lost].
What does 'grappled' mean? If grappled means modified or opposed then your original claim - that all leftist economic models depend on the LTOV - would have to be abandoned.

Karatani argues that Marx held what he called a 'transcritical' stance BETWEEN the LTOV as propounded by Ricardo and the theory that value was purely structural/relational as proposed by Bailey. Steven Shaviro has a good discussion of the Karatani book here

Karatani gives a synopsis of his own book here

But I agree with John, it would be good to get back to the original question, 'what is capitalism?' (with the implicit sub-question, 'and why does it have an intrinsic relationship to exploitation?') I shd have thought that it isn't making money that is unique to capitalism but making money out of money.
 

DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
Jezmi said:
A business owner/investor holds all the cards in his/her own hands, and will rise and fall by his/her tactics.
A worker expects a good job to provide security, while they could be fired any day! But giving responibility to another party does give peace of mind. That is the main reason why workers don't become investors/business owners, the trade-off doesn't seem worth it (whilest really it is).
Prior to the industrial revolution most people worked for themselves and assumed whatever risks there are without relying on anyone to give them a job. It was only after factories were built that the notion of a "job" even began to be adopted. A lot of people were forced to abandon their livelihood and herded into the factories, other couldn't survive on their own because of competition from the factories and had to move to the cities and get a job. Let's not forget the fencing off of the commons which again increased the labor pool available to the factories.
 
O

Omaar

Guest
Investors expect to make money from their money; I can't see what's 'fair' about that (any more than it is 'fair' for someone who bets on a horse race to expect to make dividends on that). Savers expect their money to be looked after. I agree that, because of interest etc, many savers are also investors. But the one doesn't entail the other.

It's not a case of 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's risk' surely. Risk is by its nature aleatory and destructive of the whole concept of fairness.
Quite. This must be fundamental to a definition of capitalism - making capital simply from owning capital, rather than engaging in any, er ... , 'honest' labour.

I think we should develop an analysis of capitalism based on the observation that many professional investors are basically selfish greedy bastards and uses this data to develop a more concrete analysis of how capital works.
 

DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
What about looking at interest as an insurance premium. If there was no interest then after one bad investment the capital would be gone and there would be none left to lend. Interest can offset these future potential losses.

I think the concept of lending is very important. What is going on when one lends someone money. It's only abstract pieces of paper how can they be translated into real goods/services. How can such physical temporally-tied entities be saved and passed on into the future.
 

bat020

Active member
borderpolice said:
all work is done for future benefit. even the mythological totally unexploited worker who gets the fair share of his toil, when he buys a piece of bread does so with money he acquired in the past. any future orientated behaviour is gambling in this sense. it is in other words impossible not to "speculate", "invest" or, and this is the same thing, "gamble".
Even if this were the case, all it would show is that workers take risks too – though with their labour power rather than their capital, and because they are forced to rather than choosing to. It does not demonstrate that, say, the shareholders in a company who "earn" dividends are in any meaningful sense "working" for that money.

In fact you haven't offered any positive arguments for your contention that investors work for their money, just moralistic spluttering at my assertion to the contrary.

borderpolice said:
you only refer to the money investors make. what about the money they lose? if the investor loses his money through investing (default, stock market crash etc) then what?
What is there to say? For what it's worth, I don't consider investors who lose money as somehow being justly punished for their idleness, any more than I consider investors who win as being justly rewarded for their "efforts" or "entrepreneurship".

borderpolice said:
how do you square the claim of worker exploitation with the fact that most invested money, through pension and insurance schemes is actually the workers?
Pensions are deferred wages. The capitalist hangs on to them to invest (and the workers have no control over this investment process) then pays them later (or not, witness the string of collapsed occupational pension schemes recently). In the meantime they cream off profits. It simply isn't true that the money all goes back to workers eventually – % of GDP shelled out in wages and pensions has been dropping for the past two decades. The money leaks, and finds its way into the hands of the bourgeoisie.

borderpolice said:
you explicitly criticise "finance capital" only, through repeated reference to mythological "investors" who "do not work for moneys they receive from investing (interest, dividends, rent etc) ". You didn't criticise "industrial capital" in your posts.
No, I'm not distinguishing between those who invest in financial instruments or "directly" in plant, land, buildings etc – industrial and finance capital are both equally abstract, and neither constitutes working for a living. This is in sharp contrast to the Nazi ideology that cosied up to big industrialists while denouncing "Jewish finance" as "parasitic".
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
k-punk said:
Savers expect their money to be looked after. I agree that, because of interest etc, many savers are also investors.
all savers are investors. all pensioners reap the benefits of their investments.
that's a cruical and often overlooked fact.

k-punk said:
It's not a case of 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's risk' surely. Risk is by its nature aleatory and destructive of the whole concept of fairness.
(1) non-predicatbility of the future, which is what risk is a socially constructed simplification of,
is a fact of life and all we can do is deal with it, try and distribute it, fairly.
what's not so clear is what a fair distribution of risk could be and how to do it.

(2) More sophisticated analyses of risk are possible than just saying "aleatoric nature".
some things are riskier than others. prima facie it is not unreasonable to say that certain
types of risk taking behaviour should be more highly rewarded than others.

(3) fairness is not the only important criteria for evaluating questions of dealing with
the distribution of scarcity.
 
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DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
borderpolice said:
all savers are investors. all pensioners reap the benefits of their investments.
that's a cruical and often overlooked fact.
In modern economies, yes. Even if you put your money in the bank, the bank makes loans using your deposits.

But what about people who put their money under the matress. In what sense are they investors?
 

borderpolice

Well-known member
bat020 said:
Even if this were the case, all it would show is that workers take risks too – though with their labour power rather than their capital, and because they are forced to rather than choosing to.
Of course workers are risk takers, too. That's unavoidable. Everone is forced to be a risk taker. if you want to say something sensible along those lines, it would be that the wealthier you are the more variety you have in your risk taking profiles.


bat020 said:
It does not demonstrate that, say, the shareholders in a company who "earn" dividends are in any meaningful sense "working" for that money.

In fact you haven't offered any positive arguments for your contention that investors work for their money, just moralistic spluttering at my assertion to the contrary.
Part of the problem is that we have reached the point of semantics. I can give a definition
of "work", "money" and the like which makes the investor invests part of his wages
to have earned the dividends. then y ou will say, but no, that's not what these phrases mean and so on.

OK, let;s try anyway:

(1) Money is a social medium of exchange. More specifically, It is used to
motivate human behaviour. It is a means of social behaviour instructions
among strangers etc

(2) That's the only point of money. Hence, and in the tradition of "meaning is use",
i identify money with it's effects.

(3) the effects of investing are either Profit or Loss. Hence, by substitution of equals
for equals, if i work for my money and i buy X with my money, I worked for X.
If i invest and win, i worked for my win.

bat020 said:
For what it's worth, I don't consider investors who lose money as somehow being justly punished for their idleness, any more than I consider investors who win as being justly rewarded for their "efforts" or "entrepreneurship".
that's good to hear.

bat020 said:
Pensions are deferred wages.
No. pensions are a(n obfuscated and enforced) 'contract' between the old and the young, forcing the latter to dedicate a substantial of their working time to toil for the benefit of
the former, and on a society-wide basis, i.e. not just for their parents.

bat020 said:
(and the workers have no control over this investment process)
That;s false. Apart from state-mandated pension funds, the worker is entierely free to
save and invest as he feels like it.

bat020 said:
then pays them later (or not, witness the string of collapsed occupational pension schemes recently).
and that demonstrates my point, that every form of saving is a form of gambling. and
since you probably disapprove of these collapses, you implicitly admit that risktaking
should itself be fair, for otherwise, why would it be problematic that pension funds sometimes collapse.

bat020 said:
It simply isn't true that the money all goes back to workers eventually – % of GDP shelled out in wages and pensions has been dropping for the past two decades.
That's true. But so what? If you want the same money you put in there's a simple solution:
collect the coins under your bed. if you invest you enter a lottery. anyway, what you
are really saing is this: young people these days don't work as much per pensioner
as the pensioners expected, based on the latter;s working efforts for the pensioners of their time. that is likely true. but so what? why do
you expect the pensioners to get, to put it crudly "the money go back" in that way? the intergeneratonal contract of which "money back" or "deferred wages" is simply a crudly
fictional account, assumes for stability that the population is constant. in the west that assumption has failed quite dramatically. if you want "the workers" to 'get back what they put in", the children have to put in massivly more work. someone is going to get fucked over either the young or the old.

fortunatly, the problem is alleviated by technological progress.
 
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borderpolice

Well-known member
DigitalDjigit said:
In modern economies, yes. Even if you put your money in the bank, the bank makes loans using your deposits.

But what about people who put their money under the matress. In what sense are they investors?
it's a limit case. you still gamble on your currency being stable, burglars not robbing it and so on. if you don't wanna call it investing, then so be it. empirically, that behaviour is marginal.
 
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