Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Democratizing Work

Democratizing Work I was a bit skeptical of the Global Forum on Democratizing Work. It seemed to me that rushing into an online conference was perhaps a bit over ambitious and misdirected for a relatively new initiative that arose out of a collective letter to the editors of newspapers. Anyway, I attended three-session today, two […]

Labor as a Common Pool Resource

Labor as a Common Pool Resource The everyday experience of working people, economic policies of governments, bargaining priorities of trade unions, and theoretical models of economists refute the idealistic maxim that labor is not a commodity. An early rationale for the proposition was given in 1834 by William Longson of Stockport in his evidence to […]

Beware of “The Narrative”!

Beware of “The Narrative”! Back in 1979 philosopher Jean-François Lyotard was commissioned to do a report for the province of Quebec that turned into a book, The Postmodern Condition. I remember that book well because I read it during my graduate studies that focused on narrative analysis. A central theme of Lyotard’s book was the “death of […]

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XV: “Chapter Six” from the draft manuscripts of Capital

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XV: “Chapter Six” from the draft manuscripts of Capital The draft “Chapter Six” was preceded by an earlier version of the analysis of formal and real subsumption of labour under capital. That earlier version is 28 pages long in volume 34 of the Marx-Engels Collected Works. “Chapter Six,” proper, is 111 pages […]

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XIV: Capital volume III, chapters 38 and 49

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XIV: Capital volume III, chapters 38 and 49 I thought this was going to be the final instalment of my review of Marx’s writing on socially necessary labour time but then I discovered, as I was going through my posts that I haven’t done the draft “chapter six” that contains the […]

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XI, Capital, volume II

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time XI, Capital, volume II Aside from a comment on the “labour socially necessary” in Engels’s preface, there is no other mention of socially necessary labour time in volume II of Capital. That preface is where Engels wrote of Marx saving The Source and Remedy from oblivion, albeit with only a single, short innocuous quotation (see […]

Three “Fragment[s] on Machines”: überflüssig ist notwendig

Three “Fragment[s] on Machines”: überflüssig ist notwendig An excerpt of a passage from the Grundrisse, in the notorious “fragment on machines,” has become iconic in contemporary Marx studies: Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure […]

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time X (part one): Chapters 15 and 25 Capital, volume one.

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time X (part one): Chapters 15 and 25 Capital, volume one. I started this series with the intention of comparing Dilke’s “plain leveling principle” consumption-based conception of socially necessary labour time with Marx’s theory of value founded on a production-based concept of socially necessary labour time. Two episodes and a digression later, that […]

Disposable forces, disposable class

Disposable forces, disposable class Thomas Chalmers undoubtedly cribbed his “disposable population” from Turgot’s classe disponible. Turgot’s meaning seems to be different from Chalmers’s. Turgot uses the term to refer to the class’s revenue coming from a surplus of produce and thus being available for use however the proprietor wishes. That is the revenue could be used […]

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time VIII: Capital, volume one, chapters 6, 7 & 8

Socially Ambivalent Labour Time VIII: Capital, volume one, chapters 6, 7 & 8 Chapter six, the buying and selling of labour power, contains neither “socially necessary labour time” nor “labour time socially necessary.” Instead it has a few synonyms: Suppose that in this mass of commodities requisite for the average day there are embodied 6 hours […]