Re: [ox-en] Copyfarleft: Response to Stefan Meretz
- From: Stefan Meretz <stefan.meretz hbv.org>
- Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 00:36:21 +0100
thanks for responding and using first person instead of third. However,
I don't like your ranting. Arguments will be better than just presuming
orthodoxy, giving-no-reasons, absurdness and stuff like that. Boring.
Concerning content, I think positions are made clear. Thus, IMHO further
debate will just be repeating and would not be very fruitful. Practices
will teach us. Thus this mail closes this thread for me. Thanks for
Some final responses.
On 2008-01-12 19:40, Dmytri Kleiner wrote:
I understand this goal, however, I reject this goal as a goal. I
don't want to improve capitalism,
You have missed the point completely, the point is not to improve
_capitalism_, but to change society starting from
_actually existing_ society, which is the only place from
which we can start.
Ok, you don't _want_ to improve capitalism, but with your proposals you
do. This is the main thing I want to address. Your ranting rejections
shows me that I hit some nails on the head.
I don't want to talk about better ways of
earning a living inside capitalism.
Then you have no hope of every creating any change, as our
ability to change the world is directly proportional to how
much wealth we can accumulate towards affecting such a change.
However, you are identifying wealth and money in your argumentation.
This is capitalist ideology: wealth is only what is appearing in form
of money. But there will be no change when using capitalist forms.
Using capitalist forms may only lead to improvements inside current
economic logics. Our goal however must be to transcend economic logics
and not to improve them by "free exchange" etc.
Maybe I am mislead by your leftist and radical terminology,
however, I assumed that you want emancipation, you want a free
society beyond capitalism. Is that the case? If not, I really made
a big mistake, and then have to apologize.
Emancipation must be achieved, not merely longed for. Achieving
any progress requires understanding the real world and the real
politic economic context in which we work for change.
Agreed. Our difference is only: within in current framework or by
building a new framework.
Artists can make a living in a free society as any other people can
Yet they must make a living now if they are to contribute to the
material accumulation needed to achieve a "free society" or any
change at all.
Yes, they do. As already said, this is the challege for all emancipatory
solution seeking people: make a living by feeding old logics, while a
the same time building up a new framework. There is no abbreviation
within old logics.
I am not interested in solutions for some partial groups on costs
You mean solutions for labour at the cost of capital? This is the
only way. Helping the robbed inevitable costs the robber, it you are
unwilling to cost the robbers, then you need not have typed more than
6 words in the above sentence.
No, I mean it as general as I wrote it down. There is no natural
enemy, which just has to be kicked out. This (orthodox;-)) approach has
proven wrong in history many times. Don't try it again and again (even
when not tried by branches like trotzkyian etc. -- thanks god, that
they didn' get a trial).
Capitalism is not self-organizing, but built by State violence,
granted by State privilege, and guaranteed by State force and can
only oporate with non-free control over productive assets.
Capitalism is self-organizing, and one result is state (like law,
democracy etc.). We have to understand, that these are not forms outside
capitalism being potentially usable for "good" purposes, but they are
internal regulative mechanisms to guarantee most smooth economic
operating as possible. So, your description is right, however, state is
not the extraordinary cause, but the normal mode of daily operating.
Good example. I challenge what you name "common knowledge". When
you translate value to use-value and price to exchange-value, then
I only can say this is wrong. Both translations are wrong.
"Wrong" is a label, not an argument. If you where able to, you would
demonstrate why this is wrong, you have not, and most likely can not.
This is not true. I gave a lot of reasons why it is wrong. You cutted
them away to give a false picture. Bad guy.
You can compare it with a machine: When a capitalist buys a
machine, then the "production power" is paid. However, the
difference between workers and machines is, that workers can
produce _more_ than their (already paid) labour power is worth. A
machine can only transmit its value (which is paid, see remark
above) to the products (and not more).
Yes, I have heard this orthodoxy many times. Simply repeating it
doesn't make it relevant to what is being discussed, nor true in the
sense that you seem to mean it.
Ok, when this Marxian explanation is simply orthodoxy, then you think
Marx is wrong at this point? Or am I repeating Marx wrongly?
Once again, you are confusing use-value and exchange-value. Are
claiming that a machine's price is automatically it's output while a
Haman's is their subsistence-cost? Why is this so?
First, because workers can't sell labour (the "done"), because they
don't have means of production to produce something to be sold. If they
have means of production, then they, of course, can sell their labour
in form of the products they produced. However, in this case they are
no longer workers in the traditional sense, but they are self-employed
contractors (like musians). So do you know "The Navigators" from Ken
Loach? This film really nicely describes what happens, when workers
become self-employed contractors.
Second, capitalists are interested in buying the "ability to work" (cf.
Graham when correcting me with labour/labour power), not the work done
(if the latter, then they make contracts with firms or freelancers).
They want to determine what to do. It doesn't matter, whether the
worker is doing anything at all. In the societal average, of course,
the worker produces more than his/her abilty to work is worth.
Third, labour power as a commodity does not separate from other
commodities: There are worth what they are needing for (re-)production.
It is the amount of labour used for producing them. This is valid for
all commodities. In case of labour power, production includes
reproduction of the human kind to ensure that there will new workers.
This IMHO is original Marx. While rejecting these arguments, do you
accept, that these are Marx' arguments? So, are you rejecting Marx
analysis in this regard? Don't be shy, it is allowed to reject Marx'
views. I do it sometimes myself, however, not in this case.
This topic is indeed the key. We won't solve the difference, but we can
fix the difference.
If somebody give me a machine
for free does that mean that the value it produces is 0?
Don't make too simple: This "somebody" paid the machine. However,
remember, all arguments are only valid for the societal average, not
for a single case. In the societal average, "there is no free lunch"
(machine etc.), even when looking "free" (paid by others).
Both Capital and Labour have costs and productive output.
Hu? Capital has a productive output? What may this be?
However Capital can not
experience dis-utility, and therefore does not need to be compelled
to contribute to production, unlike people, and therefor does not
require compensation beyond it's cost. Thus, Labour is the source of
all _exchange value_ (dis-utility must be compensated), while Capital
and Land can only create use-value.
Is this Gesell?
No, an asymmetrical power relation you mention base on different
economic power. However, assuming we only have productive assets,
then nothing changes: We have to exploit ourselves, we can't "pay
us the final price" of the products, because of the competition. We
have to behave as capitalists to ourselves. We are forced to do
investments and all the alienated stuff capitalists do.
You continue to be very confused here, investment and competition are
not definitive components of Capitalism,
as with free exchange
Capital (Interest) can not capture any more than it's cost, thus
"capitalism" depends mainly upon rent, which is only achieved by
_eliminating_ competition by way natural or legal scarcity.
Then good luck by eliminiting competition, while competition eleminates
No, profit is surplus value related to the invested capital.
You are welcome to use language anyway you like, however I will
refer to that as Interest. "Profit," that is a exchange-value beyond
cost, is divided, like all incomes, among Wages, Interest and Rents.
You are right. I heard this in the first lecture of classical economics.
It is classical economics, purely affirmative, not being critical. In
german it is called "theory of the three factors" -- all of them "paid"
as you show.
This does not in anyway obscure anything, in fact it is exactly
incomes that helps us understand exploitation, as in a "free society"
there could be no alienated Interests and Rents. However, a worker
could certainly "profit" by way of labour (Wages).
This is Gesell. In german these approaches are called "money botching".
Yes, no argument (too tired to repeat).
who want to obscure incomes in order to justify the absurd
belief that an exploitive class system can maintain itself in a
context of free exchange.
The goal of having a really free exchange system is the goal of the
orthodox neoclassical approach (like Hajek and others). Right?
"Vulgar" (mostly neoclassical) apologist for capital, do, however
agree with you that "Capitalism" is based on free choice and want to
obscure it's basis in violence, coercion and privilege.
So, you agree, that you are arguing neoclassical, except that you are
emphasizing violence as the basis, right? Without violence capitalism
will be ok, right?
Lumping all incomes into "Profit" leads one to hold absurd beliefs
like thinking that when a worker engages in free exchange it is
Yes, again a neoclassical argument. Slowly I understand the picture.
Sure they are, nevertheless, they mostly use contracts, which are a
different economic form. And this is important here.
Yet another absurdity.
All exchange is governed by contract, whether explicit or implied,
That's true. No difference between employed and self-employed concerning
the relationship to capital?
What is a socialist mode and where do you see it?
A socialist mode is one where Interest and Rent are not alienated
from the direct-producers.
Ok. I would call this the normal capitalist mode, though in my view.
We live in a mixed economy dominated by the capitalist mode, yet all
modes can be found if you look around. i.e. some exchange relations
among family and frienes, some co-operative, collective and voluntary
Seems that we are not far from socialism (I opt out though).
IWW are mistaken. Capitalism won't go away by organizing its logic
using its means.
A great example of an orthodox point of view: simply insisted, not
You insist and give no argument against my central argument,
that "capitalism won't go away by organizing its logic using its
The IWW in this case is correct, the proof being the _fact_ that we
can only build the new society in the shell of the old as that is the
society in which we exist as a starting point, not any other Once
again, this is yet another fact that should be self evident.
I agree with that. But again, this cannot be reached by "organizing its
logic using its means". This "fact" is no counter-argument, because it
does not give any criteria about how. My warning is simply: not by doing
fuzzy mythopoetic notions
Please give us a short summary of the transitional course you
propose. Saying "Read Archives" is not enough.
I'll do more translations (but not here being too tired).
It is a common input (like science), and thus free of value.
Exactly, they fund it because they employ it in production and thus
are ale to capture a return by controlling circulation of the
The resulting product does not have added value, because free software
is free of value. So every fund is only costs with no immediate return.
They fund free software of indirect reasons (getting influence, finding
good skilled programmer, supporting proprietary products etc).
Thus free software has use-value and can create exchange value only
by those who have access to property.
Being free of value implies being free of use-value. Value and use-value
are two sides of one coin. This is directly related to the double
character of labour including abstract labour and concrete labour. But
anyway, assuming freesoftware has use-value does mean that it can
create value. Only the use-value of labour can create value, nothing
The question was how does it _challenge_ exploitation, given that
workers can neither sustain themselves nor accummulate wealth with
it, unless they have access to property.
Ok, I understand. My answer: Only by building up an alternative
framework of cooperation outside the value/use-value framework beyond
exchange, money, state and the other capitalist forms.
Start here: www.meretz.de
Contact: projekt oekonux.de