The Marx Thread

@yeso#31877 technically, yes it does, you just own the means of production and/or land, purchase raw materials with currency, compel workers to sell their labor for wages in order to produce commodities (or extract rents from them which is more or less where this track of it ends) under threat of death, alienate the resulting commodities from the workers and the workers from the benefits of their labor by throwing it into the abstracting chaos of the market, sell the commodities for more currency than you spent to buy raw materials and on wage, and voila, you take the surplus value what's left

@Gaagaagiins#31897

lol kinda like how I observed that cyberpunk could be read as an instruction manual, if you're a billionaire.

@Moon#31900 I get this feeling billionaires did do that!

What's worse, they read Cyberpunk like a manual, or it was all convergent evolution

It's been eight years since I read Capital, but just a couple days ago I got it down from my shelf to reread. Would be down to read it with yall

fwiw I think you can get the meat of Marx's theory of capital[ism] from the first 5 or 6 chapters of volume 1. I think it's very reasonable to read up to there and then decide how interested you are in following this train of thought. I would like it if this encouraged anyone on the fence to give it a shot!

@Gaagaagiins#31902 idk about billionaires, but I know a couple people who really “got” Marx and are now working on wall street…

@Gaagaagiins#31903 Well, this is capitalism‘s entire MO, isn’t it? Rend anything and everything of the context that once defined it so as to better render it a commodity from which you can extract a profit - or, to put it in more Deleuzean language, deterritorialize whatever you can to redirect the flows of desire/value in a way that allows you to extract surplus value from them. To cite a recent example on my mind, we‘ve seen this process play out in the 90s as the youth counterculture’s disdain for capital was quickly subsumed and neutralized by the very capital it rebelled against, and this trend hasn't exactly reversed in the past thirty years.

@Video_Game_King#31908 My skin crawls every time I think of Mark Zuckerberg reading Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.

Hi everyone. I’m going to read Value, Price and Profit today. So feel free to start if you’re ready!

Hey gang. Felt I should check in as this thread is relevant to my interests, even if I can't commit to reading anything to a particular schedule. Anyway just wanted to say this is cool, glad to see it happening here

I think we’re seeing some contemporary examples in the USA of capitalists attempting to enforce “minimal subsistence” level on wages. One the hand you have amazon getting out ahead of a $15 min wage by establishing their own, while they (and others broadly) chip away at other forms of compensation by undercutting traditional employment through the use of contract work.

You also see this move toward “minimal subsistence” in the whining about over-generous unemployment benefits. The State has at least temporarily raised the standards of “minimal subsistence” at least for the people who have/could qualify for covid-boosted unemployment $

@christoffing#31893 just seeing this now and getting upset thanks

you know what, I'm going to decide not to care. Putting it in a bubble and blowing it away….

@yeso#32193 It certainly feels like the actors on the bleeding edge of capitalism are pushing the exploitation of workers to the limit, both in the material terms you describe and in stripping certain forms of work of any notion of dignity. People forced to piss in bottles on the job to make their quota etc. I was recently reminded of this Target subsidiary, Shipt:

>

Workers say Shipt customers often live in gated and upscale communities and that the app encourages workers to tack on gifts like thank you cards, hot cocoa, flowers, and balloons onto orders (paid for out of their own pocket) and to offer to walk customer’s dogs and take out their trash, as a courtesy. Shipt calls this kind of service “Bringing the Magic,” which can improve workers’ ratings from customers that factor into the algorithm that determines who gets offered the most lucrative orders.

I think Capital predicts that this kind of stuff will become normalized because of what the book calls "the coercive laws of competition," basically that anything that gets results will immediately be copied by competitors. As Harvey, Chomsky and others have pointed out, business as a bloc used to recognize the danger in this and institute some form of collective restraint so that they didn't, say, destroy the environment that they all depend on for profits in some way or another. But it just feels like the floodgates have been opened and now they're all out of control. From a rational perspective you'd think business would look at like productivity vs. wages and say "ok there's no way we can bend this any further, time to ease up a bit." Probably there are some CEO types who would agree with that but there's nothing they can do now to stem the tide of freaks pouring into the political system who think lead should be allowed back in paint, etc.

I feel like even Marx would be shocked to the extent workers have been pushed while still yet not banding together into mobs to drag bosses out into the streets to beat them to death.

Something David Graeber pointed out in a talk somewhere, probably related to Bullshit Jobs, might illuminate that. Along with the proportion of administrators and bureaucrats and mid to upper management in the workforce ballooning since the rise of neoliberalism, what has also increased wildly is what Samuel Bowles (whoever that is) called guard labor, or, basically, labor that exists only to basically safeguard capital (security guards) or force barely willing workers to keep working, or both (cops)

@yeso#32216 What a coincidence I would blow up Elon musk too he he…

@tapevulture#32235 Is there not an issue here relating to the class of capital as a whole? As in, there is a difference between what's good for individual companies, or capital on the national level, or even different sectors, and what is good for capitalism as a system? Environmental destruction, lack of social and political legitimacy, low wages and poor job security making people unable or unwilling to consume etc are not exactly ideal conditions for capitalism as a global economic system in the long run, but for almost any given individual company keeping wages down, ignoring environmental concerns and being close to politicians is ideal.

Then again, and this is actually kinda interesting, the last time the capitalist order was actually seriously challenged in the west was in the 60s and 70s, a time when Keynesianism and social democracy were at their peak; what's to say an order that makes capitalism less blatantly murderous (to the working classes in the imperial core, that is) is actually better for its health?

Also thinking about the notion in “Wage Labor And Capital” that “labor power” as a commodity is valued not just according to the dollar value of the work an individual produces, but is constituted by all the money/time/resources needed to make that worker what they are.

So may explain the existence of reasonably well paid office workers who (no offense) don't do a ton of productive work. But on the other hand, at least wrt the post 2008 generation, and saps like me who in the aftermath got an expensive "education" there's a divide b/t those of us who managed to gain a reasonable foothold in a profession, and those of us who just ate shit on the job market. So idk how much labor power is enhanced by just the raw existence of skills, training, education, etc. Certainly could be a misreading on my part

Just wanna pop in and say the mass sensationalism and shame free ignorance in response to grimes‘ little statement shows that majority of people have no idea what AI machine learning automation even is. This is stuff we’ve been talking about for decades.

marx obv couldn‘t comment on AI, but he did consider the effects of technological innovation relating to labor productivity in Wage Labor And Capital and the dilemma he described (as far as I understood it) was that capitalists will implement technology to enhance productivity in service of profit - not to make the work “easier” for the workers, and certainly not to redistribute those profits to the workers - but because with technology, they’ll be able to out-compete other capitalists. He used the example of a spinning machine to manufacture linen. Once one linen-manufacturer purchases and implements a spinning machine, he then has the ability to sell his linen for less, and still make an acceptable profit bc he can fire workers, lower wages, etc since the machine has squeezed more productive capacity out of his process

And once one capitalist buys a spinning machine, all the others need to as well, or they'll be pushed out of the market. So this results in a tech arms race in which the worker loses out. They get fired, they see their wages decreased, their leverage over the boss is undermined, etc. And Marx does comment on what happens to workers who lose employment in this dynamic, arguing that rather than becoming spinning machine operators or manufacturers themselves to adjust to shifts in the production process, they just sort of struggle to subsist until they die bc it's easier for capitalists to just hire a new generation of workers. Basically the 1846 rebuttal to "learn to code." And re grimes, idk what to say really other than it's weird to see your ex on social media, know what I'm saying fellas?