Links for March 2, 2010: Noam Chomsky on Ron Paul Supporters, A Marxist Response to the “Mudpie Argument”, others….

March 3, 2010
  1. YouTube | Noam Chomsky on Ron Paul & his supporters

    A fundamental disagreement I have with Chomsky is that, whereas he seems universally to recognize the authority of democracy, I do not. Chomsky reassures us that alien forces such as government are not trying to steal our money through taxation. We should rejoice on tax day, Chomsky argues, because it is only a majority of our brethren who have voted to steal our money from us for the purposes that “we” (read “they”) have agreed upon. The assumption is that we all always assent to democracy. I do not accept that assumption. The cliche to remember is tyranny of the majority. Fifty-one percent of the people have have no inherent right to the property of the other forty-nine percent. If some members of the forty-nine percent wish to waive their property rights in the name of democracy, they may. To force this waiver, however, is simply tyranny of the majority. We all know how much Chomsky hates tyranny! Read the rest of this entry »


Links for February 26, 2010: Consumer Advocacy Group Sues FDA Over the Right to Sell Raw Milk, Marx’s Capital gets lamer, others…

March 2, 2010

Raw Milk: The Assassin of Youth (Photo: Chedid)

  1. Grist | Farmer-consumer group challenges FDA authority to ban interstate raw-milk sales

    Commerce Clause challenge FAIL! These people are wasting their time. Don’t they know that the Supreme Court has essentially interpreted the Commerce Clause as a grant of general authority to regulate everything everywhere? The milk does not even need to cross state lines for the FDA to have authority to regulate and control it.

  2. World Socialist Party (US) | Socialist Guide to Marx’s Capital (3. Labor Theory of Value)

    Describing Marx’s labor theory of value begins to appear as the sprawling of a web of lies. “It is an easy thing to tell a lie,’ wrote Thomas Paine, “but it is more difficult to support a lie after it is told.” Whenever Marx is confronted with a completely disarming counter-example to his already jury-rigged theory, his solution is to invent a new term of art to describe the phenomenon, which he then “goes on to examine” in a future chapter or volume of exponentially increasing body of “work”. Here, the author of this article sua sponte offers the example of the celebrity autograph, which is often exchanged on the market at a high price, even though a negligible amount of labor went into its production. Marx’s solution, apparently, is to invent a new term of art, formal commodity, and then explain the relevance of formal commodities away through impressive feats of mental contortionism. When the dust settles, we see no explanation as to why autographs are often expensive. Read the rest of this entry »


Studying Karl Marx’s Capital From a Libertarian Perspective, Chapter 1, Section 2: The Two-Fold Character of the Labor Embodied in Commodities.

February 28, 2010
(audio source: Libravox via Internet Archive)

Coats are not exchangeable…

Beginning section 2, Marx employs, with scant explanation, the new concept of the relative commodity.  I don’t recall from the previous chapter any concise definition of the term commodity, but the definition is not too difficult to extrapolate: A commodity is a useful item produced trough human labor for the purpose of being exchanged.  If I made a coat for the purpose of exchanging it for something I wanted more, I suppose Marx would consider that to be an “commodity in the absolute”, although he has not (yet) used that term.  But suppose that I hated the sound of trumpets so much that I would never under any circumstances exchange one of my coats for any number of trumpets.  Because my coat was not produced for the purpose of being exchanged with trumpets, my coat would not be a commodity relative to trumpets, although it would remain a commodity for other purposes.  Under this framework, Marx derives the following rule about like commodities:


A flash of sober reflection reveals the difficulty with such a general pronouncement.   Read the rest of this entry »


Studying Karl Marx’s Capital From a Libertarian Perspective, Chapter 1, Section 1: The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use Value and Value

February 27, 2010
(audio source: Libravox via Internet Archive)

A given commodity, e.g., a quarter of wheat is exchanged for x blacking, ...

Marx begins Capital by describing what I would call a commodity’s “trinity of value“.  The trinity consists of use value, exchange value, and value.  These are all terms of art that are to be used with precision.  Use value, in my interpretation, is most analogous what I would call “value”¹.  It is largely subjective and impossible to quantify.  An item’s exchange value, in my interpretation, is analogous to what we would today call fair market value, or market price, and is measurable in terms of what one might expect to receive for the item if one intended to exchange on the market.  Ironically, the term value has no analogy among my previously-held notions of “value”.  To Marx, value arises out of the “socially-necessary labor time” required to produce a commodity.  To me, the amount of labor necessary to produce a commodity is irrelevant to the commodity’s “value”.  Quite to the contrary, a potential item’s latent, pre-existing “value”, i.e demand, is usually what induces the labor necessary to make the item in the first place.  Labor is the effect of “value”, not its cause.  Nonetheless, to facilitate the proper interpretation of the term value as Marx will inevitably continue to use it, I will assign to the term value the definition that Marx has assigned it, however useless I find the concept to be.  Read the rest of this entry »