--- Appendix B ---

What google found on
"the laws of commodity production"

Here is what I found doing a search on google
(more or less in the order in which I found it)
There were articles by people I know and one by me.
Two of these articles are discussed in my current reply
(see "Dreaming the impossible dream" and Appendix C)

Machinery and the origins of surplus value
Nick Beams -- 19 March 2002

The general formula for the circulation of capital takes the form of Money-Commodity-Money. But clearly in its role as capital, money, as it enters the process of circulation, comes out of circulation and re-enters it again, expands its value. How then can this process be explained in accordance with the laws of commodity production, out of which capital arises, in which equivalents are exchanged for equivalents?

The capitalist, Marx explains, must be able to find within the sphere of circulation a commodity whose use-value, realised in the process of consumption, is such that it possesses the property of being a source of value. That commodity is labour power, the capacity to work, which the worker sells to the capitalist. Its use-value is realised in the production process itself. During one portion of the working day the worker reproduces the value of his labour power. In the rest of the working day he adds additional, or surplus value, which belongs to the capitalist as the purchaser of the commodity labour power.

Does the existence of nationalized industry prove that
the capitalist law of value has been abolished?
Preobrazhensky--ideologist of state capitalism (Part 2)
Joseph Green -- August 1, 1998

The revenge of the law of value

It is especially state dictation of prices and direction of economic transactions that gives the impression to many activists that the law of value has been breached. But are there clear signs that the laws of commodity production still exist in the state capitalist economies? If the state can dictate prices and production as it wishes, but this dictation results in crises and disproportions, then this is the revenge of the law of value. Even in free-market situations, prices vary from value or the "prices of production", but there are consequences when this happens. It is the existence of consequences for deviations that is the main way in which the law of value manifests itself in monopoly capitalism and state capitalism.

Capital, Volume 1 (?)
Part 7: The Process of Accumulation of Capital


I agree that Marx was emphatic that (a) profit must be explained on the basis of the exchange of commodities at their values; (b) the exchange of labor-power for labor is in accordance with the "original laws of commodity production", not in conflict with them. If we instead argue that workers are exploited because of the weakness of their class position an get less than their value, while everyone else gets proper value, then we are arguing 'vulgar Ricardian socialism' (to paraphrase Samuelson), not Marxism.

Conversion of surplus value into capital (chap. 24)

When all or part of the surplus value is reinvested as additional capital, we have reproduction on an expanded scale, or the accumulation of capital. Here again the point of view appropriate to looking at reproduction brings things to light that are not seen as long as we focus on individual transactions.

We are concerned here with section 1 of the chapter, in which Marx discusses "the inversion which converst the property laws of commodity production into laws of capitalist appropriation." The section is important for understanding Marx's attitude toward Proudhon and other social reformers who labeled the exploitative aspects of capitalism as injustices that resulted from an adulteration or violation of the property rights corresponding to commodity production. There was a tendency among reformers to think that commodity production embodied the principle that legitimate property rights are based on labor. Hence they were concerned to make things right for the worker by somehow implementing an "unadulterated" form of commodity production.

M-TH: Marxism and stages -- Louis Proyect -- Feb 1998

These are all the sentences in the final chapter of Engels' "The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State" that contain a reference to stages. The chapter is titled "Barbarism and Civilization", which speaks volumes in itself. [...]

22) These economic laws of commodity production are modified with the various STAGES of this form of production; but in general the whole period of civilization is dominated by them.

Subject: Re: TRPF - not supply and demand/Reply

Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002

Here is the crux of my presentation. The Law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall can be understood in the context of the initial emergence of a new mode of production and the emerging destruction of commodity production as a form of human laboring in human history. The increasing rendering of labor superfluous in the production of commodities affects and is manifested in every element of capitalist commodity production and this is apparent in the law of supply and demand also. Under capitalist property relations there is a direct relationship between demand and the magnitude of labor power purchased, which drives consumption.

Simply because Karl Marx and Frederick Engels did not illuminate this side of the equation in Capital, does not mean it doesn't exist. Rather, what is implied is that they were not sitting in from of a computer, watching the impact of the computerization and digitalization of the production process, although they did talk about automation.

Before the advent of computerization and digitalization of the production process, socialism was conceived on the basis of a gigantic factory like industrial system without the limitation imposed by the laws of capitalist commodity production. Communism - the abolition of commodity production existed in the imagination of far-sighted thinkers as a super duper factory system driven on the basis of electro-mechanical processes. This is the vision I inherited and fought to realize as a younger man.

The decade of the 1980s witnessed a transition in technological application and began a radical transformation of the industrial infrastructure. The decade of the 90s crystallized the impact of computerization and digitalization of the production process for anyone that dared to look.

Comrade, we have to look at that, which is new. Looking at the new confirms the standpoint of Marx.

The Alpha and Omega of Communist Theory
http://www.leninism.org/pof/pof2.htm -- May 1997

Markets will certain exist during the transition period, if only because a functioning economy will be necessary and non-market methods of effectively running an economy can only be learned over a period of time. Markets will exist so that the workers will have a functioning economy while they experiment with and learn how to run an economy without markets.

From time to time we also see various schemes that someone has devised that use markets and exchange (combined with special rules, cooperatives or what-not) in an economy--not as a temporary expedient during a period of transition--but as a cure for capitalism's ills.

I think we are in the same situation here as the U.S. patent office--which kept getting patent applications for "perpetual-motion machines". Everyone who understands the first two laws of thermodynamics (roughly speaking: "you can't win" and "you can't break even") knows that you cannot draw unlimited energy out of a closed system.

Yet the patent office kept getting all these applications because would-be geniuses continued to believe that they had outsmarted nature.

Similarly, we may never run into a shortage of "sharp" people who have devised a perfect plan to escape the laws of commodity production and exchange--while proposing--an economy based on commodity production and exchange.

The patent office, getting fed-up with this (and grasping that some people have greater respect for laws made by man than the laws of nature) finally instituted a new regulation: perpetual-motion machines, on the authority vested by the U.S. Congress, are, by law, no longer patentable.

Bob Avakian -- May 4, 1997

There is even an interesting discussion by Marx or Engels--I tried to find it and couldn't. But it's somewhere in either one of the volumes of Capital or somewhere else (maybe Theories of Surplus Value or The Grundrisse or the correspondence of Marx and Engels). There is a statement to the effect that even if the entire world, all of production, became automated, even if it involved only machinery and no people, there would still be no basis under capitalism for operating other than according to the laws of commodity production and the law of value.

Frederick Engels
The Poverty of Philosophy -- Preface to the First German Edition

But the Ricardian definition of value, in spite of its ominous characteristics, has a feature which makes it dear to the heart of the honest bourgeois. It appeals with irresistible force to his sense of justice. Justice and equality of rights are the cornerstones on which the bourgeois of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would like to erect his social edifice over the ruins of feudal injustice, inequality and privilege. And the determination of value of commodities by labour and the free exchange of the products of labour, taking place according to this measure of value between commodity owners with equal rights, these are, as Marx has already proved, the real foundations on which the whole political, juridical and philosophical ideology of the modern bourgeoisie has been built. Once it is recognised that labour is the measure of value of a commodity, the better feelings of the honest bourgeois cannot but be deeply wounded by the wickedness of a world which, while recognising the basic law of justice in name, still in fact appears at every moment to set it aside without compunction. And the petty bourgeois especially, whose honest labour--even if it is only that of his workmen and apprentices--is daily more and more depreciated in value by the competition of large-scale production and machinery, this small-scale producer especially must long for a society in which the exchange of products according to their labour value is at last a complete and invariable truth. In other words, he must long for a society in which a single law of commodity production prevails exclusively and in full, but in which the conditions are abolished in which it can prevail at all, viz., the other laws of commodity production and, later, of capitalist production.

On the anarchist outlook of Noam Chomsky -- Mark -- Nov 2000

Chomsky's "explanation" explains nothing, but it fits in nicely with the anarchist idea that the state is the root cause of all evil. Likewise, anarchism does well to stay away from a close study of the laws of commodity production, as it would also tend to expose where their ideal society of independent producers, free from any centralized control by society as a whole, actually leads.