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Enter the Dragon, AKA The Labor Theory of Value

In our previous post, we gave high praise to Pizza von Marx for explaining Marx’s classic text Kapital in a way we bourgeoisie could understand it, despite our twisted minds being blinded forever by our class consciousness.
We also took the opportunity to explain the obvious errors of Marx’s work, and attributed his foolishness to physics envy and the need for a hero to push his morality play forward.

Now we move on to the next concept so crucial to Marxism, the labor theory of value. We will show he made the very same mistake as last blog, and for almost the same reasons. Once again, it’s physics envy and the need for a player in his cosmic morality play. This time he needs a damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks. He finds her in the simple laborer, his honest hands calloused by honest work, his honest reward stolen by that Snidely Whiplash of Marxian economics, the Capitalist.

His words in italics, we present without further ado, Pizza von Marx summarizing Karl Marx:

Marx talks about the dual-nature of labour as well, with concrete specific labour giving rise to use-value (tailors make use-value of clothing for warmth). He says that abstract labour is the source of value, and his proofs for this are two-fold.
First he says that if x linen = y coat, then both linen and coat must be reducible to a third something, something which cannot be part of its physical traits.

This is imprecise, of course. X linen is not equal to Y coat. An apple is not equal to an orange. Maybe the Marx brothers, Karl and Pizza von, mean here that the value of X linen is equal to the value of Y coat. As we pointed out in the previous post, this equation is ephemeral and limited in scope. X and Y change from person to person, and from minute to minute in the very same person. So the Brothers had better come up with a “third something” that changes from person to person and minute to minute. You have the floor, guys:

He proceeds to show this as being abstract labour.
Uh oh, you blew it. “Abstract labor” doesn’t fit the criteria we mentioned in the previous paragraph. But wait, maybe you have a proof that you are right:

My preferred proof is this.
The idea that labour is the substance of value comes out more clearly when we examine the historical preconditions for the existence of value relations. For individuals to produce exchange-values, the products they produce must be use-values not to themselves but to other individuals, that is, social use-values. Labour which creates social use-values is social labour, and presupposes a social division of labour which forces individuals to rely on the production of society to satisfy their needs.

You’re bordering on gibberish in that last sentence, guys. “Division of labor can only occur when people are forced to rely on society”. So many mistakes in that one sentence. Ever heard of comparative advantage? But maybe that mistake doesn’t ruin your overall proof. Let’s see.

However, only in certain instances of the social division of labour do the products of society appear as exchangeable values. These instances are where the various branches of the social division of labour carry out production independently of one another and for private account.

What he’s saying, mistaken though it is, is that you can only trade one thing for another if two different people are making them and own the finished products. If one person, or that mythical creature, the People as a Whole, makes both things, there is nobody to trade with, right?

The mistake is that the Marx Brothers didn’t reckon with the hybrid economy invented by Communist Russia after the pure Marxian plan had millions literally starving. The People own the means of production, but then The People sell it to individuals. Yes, I know it’s absurd, but that was the system. One guy, supposedly representing The People, is in charge of the means of production. He then sells it to individuals for different prices, creating X Linen = Y Coat.

But hey, nobody’s perfect. Maybe the proof holds water even with this blunder. We’ll let them continue:

In such instances, the products of labour become social through the medium of the value-form.

Value-form? Is that like a bra-form? What does this sentence even mean? A good editor might have told Marx to change it to, “You can only sell what you worked hard to make by giving it a price.”

Let me say right here that I smell a logical error coming up. He’s going to say that since you cannot get a price for your labor without a price system [obviously], therefore the ONLY thing that decides what the price will be is labor. It’s like saying that since you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs, therefore the only thing that makes up an omelet is broken eggs. No oil, no spices, no frying pan, no heat source, no human to preside over the frying, are needed. C’mon guys, you’re better than that.

But wait. Maybe they aren’t going to make that ridiculous mistake. Be fair, Smiling Dave. Read on to the end:

Value serves as the substance which undertakes the natural necessity common to every society of apportioning out the labour-time of society to different branches of production in order to serve social wants. As the medium through which labour becomes social labour, we can see clearly that the essence of value is labour.

The nose knows. They did make that very mistake. Dang. No wonder they had to write it all in muddled English; they had something to hide.

In fact, to say that labour is the substance of value becomes a tautology, which is equivalent to saying that the substance of social labour is social labour.

Pizza von Marx mocked the guys at the forum for not replying to his posts. To his credit, when someone explained that it’s Fourth of July weekend, he apologized. Maybe I need to apologize to the Brothers Marx for the same reason. Maybe they too wrote all this after a drunken holiday binge. How else to claim that “you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs” proves that “an omelet is nothing but broken eggs”. In fact, so close is the identity of omelets and broken eggs, he asserts, that it’s the same as saying “broken eggs are broken eggs”.

Maybe more in next blog; haven’t decided yet if it would be beating a dead horse.

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