Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nailing the lie

When did the free market die?
it is a real question Marx thinks.
The free market dies he says the minute the workshop gave way to the factory and the dominant unite of production,
In a workshop world a series of process each produce a commodity that others take up. Money therefore flows from one individual to another, to another process ,and everyone is genuinely free to sell elsewhere.
The factory is a rater different model, The division of labour might be there (and the factor will be very productive in producing new and different divisions). What is though so different i that the commodity is only produced at the end of the product. In a factory therefore each process automatically leads o the next. There are no finished products (until the end). There is no point therefore that the goods produced are sold to the next down the line.
The factory as then a very different rhythm of the workshop. It is the set up of the capitalism (or coorpeative), which comes together and sets up the dead labour which infuses the process. t has then an initial out lay; it produces as a commodity a single good. This good is then sold. But between these two there s as little buying and selling as possible, the only thing ought is labour time, and yet the capitalist has the whip hand here. By and large they can ensure that the labour so bought is always bought at the cheapest prices possible (possibly even survival wages). Th free market in labour is then one that favours the capitalist. what is more the old system where the labour of the workers was in itself valuable (as it added skill is of course no more. In a full mechanized system any old idiot, genius or performing chimp can do any task.
Behind the free market was then the assumption hat there were genuine skills, which individuals could own and which gave them certain power within the system. Without this world of individual small scale producers and this eden of value, Marx says any free market is likely to be at best unfair and at worse non existent. It will be the former as the power relations between the various parties to it are so different. A company or a bank has so much clout; they do not need individual buisness - they could always go elsewhere or to the government. Each company has then a power which forces individuals to conform and forces them into certain fixing deals. Or again what companies pay workers is set by the fact that a company can find their workers anywhere (they can always move the jobs elsewhere), while the workers always need to live.
But the market usually breaks down (at least in part) This is because the individual production process has not market within it. a factory is a process not a sequence of markets: and Marx says one of the tendencies of capitalism is to produce a world which is a single macro machine ( tendency while he thinks if not real that a single market). The free market is then at best peripheral to this system and at worse a lie which allows it to flourish.
That is it is the lie that everyone is buying and selling something, and that the system is therefore fair. Ir hides the fact that there is no real market in the process, an what is being paid for labour is appalling cheap.
Doctrine of the free market hide the very real power relations that infuse the system, and prevent it being remotely free or fair. As such the words free market become a justification and an apology for an 'apparently' necessary act of oppression.
What is more any occupation that sees itself even for he flicker of an eye as a production process is likely to slip into a factory mode;. This is surely one of the thinks that happen with banks. They saw their role not to produce a fee market in whatever, but rather to produce money as if that money, that production, the production of capitalism itself as a produce. This production of production defied the free market as such. one needed not to think what one was buyingor the value of anything, one needed of merely 'produce' and carry on producing money. The entire system then eventually collasped, as the actual 'free air' of the market (or what people really ought to be paying for these properties broke across the system

Marx therefore asks a really important question. What if, he says the two dominant ideas of our times the free market and the factory floor said radically different thing, and opened on different old. the former necessarily introduced other element into a transaction (someone will have skills to sell, or will before buying think what they buy, buyers are therefore rational), while the later will have its power lie through ensuring a lack of choice and a dominance of a certain system to the detriment of all others, and does so even as it expands to devour all other options. These models are of course very uneven in their matching. The free market has a certain romantic appeal, in the same way the knight templar does or Ancient rome. it is a system who heyday was a mythical world of artisan and guilds. A day long gone (if it were ever there). The problem is that no one has told it that. or rather the problem is that it has become the only say way to understanding the laws of buying and selling. That is the point commodities enter the system of capital. The factory floor, by contrast, the only way we currently understand production (or almost the only way). it power then lies in defining rules by which that production process can be expanded and modified.
Here then is a real contradiction inherent within a 'system': capitalism is caught between two different models, that of how it buys and sells and that how it produces: Marx's point is that any such system is necessarily very unstable and likely to frequent collapse. The gamble them of Max the communists is that somewhere and a some time a series of theorems might bubble up that articulate these two elements of our society rather more easily one with the other. e knows however such a theorem will take time. It will be born out of the develops of the system and cannot be simply rushed. He merely knows it ought o be possible: it ought to happen. All of course we can say is that with him we are still waiting.

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