Labor theory of value is bunk because sometimes employers make less than their employees

How do you respond? Is it even true? My lolbert friend brought it up and tbh it stumped me.

Employers as individuals aren't the same as the business

Ahhh, that was my response as well.

Blood-sucking bugs that jump on chimps aren't parasites because sometimes a chimp picks them from another chimp and eats them. Checkmate, bloodsuckerphobic bigots.

You don't judge the trend by the exceptional case.

You don't build your data set on outliers

Even if those CEOs or whatever are only "paid" $1 like you hear sometimes, they're getting thousands or sometimes millions in other forms of compensation.

It just proves that the employer doesn't do anything.

T. I have not finished Chapter One of Das Kapitaal

What part of the LTV says employers make more than their employees? Even if the employer takes home $1, that's $1 more than he deserves.

and sometimes not. check mate

It's not about how much the employer makes, its about the employer not needing to exist at all, they are a parasite that benefits from the labor of others. Workers should control the industries so as to eliminate such parasites

Gee whodathunk


More then his employees in aggregate maybe…

You're right I sure haven't.

I think this misses the point of Marx's LTV. I'm trying really hard to understand the concept of concrete and abstract labour, so this post is as much for me as it is for you.

First off, we must understand where Marx starts his analysis (or really where Smith and Ricardo started their analysis). This is not - how should we deal with scarcity, it's how DO we reproduce ourselves and create wealth. This is a very stark difference between Marxian, and other economic schools of thought. The very basis for the analysis of exchange is different. The bourgeoisie take capitalism as a given, Marx being a continental philosopher analyzes what capitalism is in of itself.

So there are certain fundamental axioms which characterize reproduction and expansion of wealth. This being, that it requires real concrete labour to be carried out in some way and to some extent. You can't have something come from nothing. The next question that follows is how the total capacity to labour, and thus to reproduce and expand is allocated within capitalism. This is the basis for Marx'a analysis. "Value", which is Marx's word for the allocation of labour to certain commodities through production, is only created as a consequence of the production process.

Modern economics focuses on scarcity - "there is not enough X". But not enough X for what? Not enough X to be produced? By simply focusing on the allocation of resources, we ignore the production process by which these resources are distributed. If labour power is allocated based say, on seigniorial rite, this will form a different society than one where a labor power is allocated based on profit through exchange. In other words, in our feudal society production was accomplished by rite. In Capitalism, it is accomplished based on viability in exchange. To realize surplus value.

So abstract labour, is not a concrete expenditure of energy. It is not a metaphysical unit. It is a consequence of a material relationship - a social one. In order for society to reproduce, labour must be performed. The labour value of a commodity does not mean it will be realized at that value (exchanged for a commodity that contains an equivalent labour or more), it is a consequence of the societal relations that prevail within capitalism.

So what does this mean for the LTV? Let's consider the expenditure of labour. However, if we only consider that alone we run into the "mudpies" argument. It's clear that in order for labour to be value producing, it must be productive labour. That means, it must create some sort of social wealth. This is the true basis for the labour power of society. Not labour "in the abstract", nor labour in the concrete sense, but labour that produces social wealth.

What we would call "productive labour" is not a consequence of labour in of itself. Society imposes the criterion for productive labour, productive labour does not impose itself on society.

This is why the LTV is so significant to the capitalist mode of production. Every commodity produced for exchange signifies an expenditure of societies capacity to labour productively.

This does not mean a commodity that is produced will be able to be exchanged for it's individual or exchange value. In fact, this is why Marx spends so much time on production as a process. For Marx a commodity, by definition MUST be useful. It must be an item that society finds a use for - or that a capitalist believes society has a use for. Even if the commodities value is not realized through exchange, the fact that the capitalist contracted out a worker and compensated him with money, giving him the ability to buy social wealth needed to sustain and reproduce himself is enough for that commodity production to be considered productive labour.

Due to this value is begat through production, and fully realized through exchange. To bring us back to the mudpie argument we can actually qualify what aspects of digging holes could constitute a consumption of "productive labour".

Let's say the worker builds the shovel himself, and goes into the field to start digging. No one buys his holes. Society at large did not realize value through this. Nor did the worker. The work he has done can't be exchanged for other commodities, and he consumed no commodities in the process.

But what if he buys the shovel? Now the capitalist selling the shovel has realized value through exchange. Whether the shovel, combined with the labour of the hole digger realizes value by selling the holes he dug will determine whether the rest of the value he expends will be realized through exchange.

There is debate among Marxist whether value is created through exchange or production. I believe the latter. Every commodity exchanged must have been produced. But the very nature of what should be exchanged is decided at a societal level. What constitutes productive labour is decided prior, or immediately after production takes place at a societal level. This is called the social division of labour. As long as we live in a society where producers produce do not only produce for themselves the social division of labour takes place.

THIS is how the value relation arises. That a commodity producing society realizes productive labour through commodity production. That production necessarily involves the transfers and production of different commodities, sometimes of the value of those commodities embodied in the money form. The LTV is specific to capitalism. It can only exist as a result of our societal organization. That labour is done to meet societal needs, and that the labour represents a definitive amount expanded is a purely social relationship. It is a consequence of the material, not metaphysical. The fact that the linen producer produces linen is useless in of itself. It's only insofar as society recognizes that linen is a product of labour, but not only labour but productive labour can it be equated and exchanged with the commodities produced by other concrete forms of productive labour.

Of course this is only the basis for Marx's investigation. Once it's realized that the product of productive labour can be measured homogeneously - as being a duration of productive labour that his investigation into Capitalism starts. Where competition now creates average times of production, a productivity that must be adhered to so that the expenditure of productive labour is no more, or ideally less than the average time it takes to produce the commodity. These all arise as social laws as a result of the capitalist mode of production.

Hope this helps, it's hard to understand.


OP remember this principle forever

To clarify the mudpies argument, the activity of digging holes could generate or consumer value. But only if social wealth is consumed in the process, or the commodity produced is recognized by society as social wealth. Wealth that took effort to produce, and was produced for exchange. This is what value is. A social relationship. Nothing more.

but I thought Marx started his arguments with the Commodity

and then I thought marx started his arguments with method?

is there a good Marxian Dictionary?

-consumer value
- social wealth
-produced for exchange
-social relationship

these are all being used more specifically than in laymen terms

He starts it with the commodity, but "value" is only "value" because of objective material relationships in society.

-consumer value
Don't know where I said that.
Wealth that serves a social purpose. It's valued as wealth by more people in society than the producer and can therefore be exchanged
see above
Quite literally that. It is produced in order to be exchanged. A self sustaining farmer would not generate value with his labour.
A social relationship, generated by commodity production for exchange.
Relationship between people in society. Like, "teacher and student".

Marx never referred to his value theory as the LTV, and it's kind of a strawman to refer to it as such.


That doesn't follow. LTV isn't "employers always make more money than their employees"

The fact that they make anything at all means that it has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the workers.

income =/= wealth
managers =/= employers
Some like the sort of shit I hear anyway.

doesn't really change anything. Marx's LVT is not a matter of "here's how the capitalists make more money always." His LVT is not invalidated. Generally capitalists make more. But a couple of them making less than workers does not change the fact that the money they make comes from workers' surplus labor. Nor does it change how a capitalist firm functions.

Being completely honest, I'm utterly perplexed by the LTV. For example, it's clear time is not the measure of value. It's abstract labour, which is the ability to perform useful labour. My impression now is that SNLT is not necessarily deeming time to be the base unit, but to be representative of a general productivity simple commodity production established through competition.

The more I look into it, the more incoherent it gets. The fact that no one here has any grasp on theory is really hurting me in that regard.

And when I say time is not the base unit, I mean time is the magnitude of the unit but it is not the "base" unit. It's not "1 hr of labour", it's "a portion of societies abstract labour time is expended in the production of X commodity and the productivity of this labour is what forms the SNLT.

This is ending up incoherent for me mainly due to the complex and simple labour. Earlier I posted an econ general, where I tried to come up with an equation for the breakdown of complex into simple labour. Low and behold: Marx's conception of complex and simple is not based on time needed to produce the labour power necessary to perform it, but a scarcity of labourers. He compares complex labour to jobs strong people can do when most of the population is weak. Being strong doesn't require training (and I don't mean being a body builder). This also explains a lot of other complex labours (like acting in a porno) that command more value but don't require training.

In the midst of this, it becomes obvious that the LTV lacks a coherent base unit. It can't be time because time is clearly not relevant - it merely measures the magnitude of abstract labour power expended into a commodity and scarce jobs command more abstract labour power (why - I don't know.

This past day I've just now realized how out of touch economist like Andrew Kliman and TSSI proponents are with Marx's theory, as well as the lack of coherent resources on Marx besides uptight academics and misinterpretations online.

The only thing I can right now concede to the LTV is that a unit of "abstract labour" has more relevance to material reality than a neoclassical util which is subjective and changing from minute to minute. Labour expanded is concrete. But I think some criticism I've read about Marxian economics lacking a base unit is correct. Whether that makes a difference (as an idealistic base unit is inferior to a materialist base unit when we are talking about material processes, even if that material base unit is an abstraction of a larger social process) is something I still need to decide.

Right now I don't think Marx was ever trying to quantity abstract labour, just tracking how that labour generates wealth in a society. If this is the approach taken, concepts like the MELT and TSSI become irrelevant and so do Marxian analysis of the rate of profit that Kiliman and the like do.

I think after I finish Capital I might take a foray into Neomarxian economics.


I skimmed through the preface thought I"m doing school work, does this answer some of my questions raised in .