Every product has, deposited in them, some labour time spent to produce them. In fact they can become products only if labour is spent on their production-otherwise they are products of nature, and if they are to be used by men, they must be taken off the nature and thus labour must be spent on them.
As we noted before, when products of men’s labour become commodities, so does this labour time spent on their production become “value”! To the extent that these products are exchanged, and since equals can be exchanged, one must know the amount of labour time and the kind of labour spent for their production.
Right at the start, when products were beginning to become commodities, the variety of products were minimal. The people who engaged in exchange of products thus transforming them into commodities, more or less new each other and the kind of labour and the amount of labour time spent for the production of each product. Thus exchange was exchange of equal values. When local money came into the operation and begun to be used to mediate the exchange process, they also knew what sort of labour and how much labour time was spent in the production of money, and thus again equal value was exchanged-even though the product was exchanged for money.
But then comes money that is not locally produced. Marx refer to the Romans. They invade a place, rob the place blind, and afterword impose taxes, and Roman soldiers are paid using these robberies and taxes. With that money at hand they go to the Anatolian tradesman. Who has been robbed and is now paying taxes which are used to pay the soldiers. What does he do? He cheats the soldier when he is selling goods to him. And proudly claim these soldiers are idiots and he cheats them every time they buy something from him. Thus cheating by the clever tradesman is part of Roman soldier’s life-so is paying taxes to the Romans part of the tradesman’s life!
Furthermore, who knows the value of the Roman money which is produced by Romans? Not the Anatolian tradesman!
In other words problems regarding the exchange of equal values arise as the commodity production develops!
Such problems are visible today-under different conditions! Anatolian producers produce and sell their products to the new empires of the world. And have no doubt they cheat! This is well known in the case of tourists! But goes on in every transaction. And yet, our Anatolian producer and the tradesman is no better off than the ones that lived during Roman times! They are in fact worse off! As we write these words, they all know what we mean! The new Roman Empires are the ones who have actually been robbing and taxing them in new ways!
These days, and as the President of Turkey has once said, while some produce and others consume, the exchange of equal value looks like a thing of the past due to monopoly of all sorts-for example some people are printing green paper, calling it money (dollar) and producers are giving up their products (trading) to get hold of that paper- all that talk of exchange of equals (exchange of equal value) looks totally out of place.
When not production of goods but production of commodities became universal, transforming even the human labour power into a commodity, the law of value, as exchange of equal values imposed itself –in the form of an average, not as a case at every exchange. With monopoly, and its aim of maximum profits, exchange of equal value is restricted to small and far away communities, which do not determine the commodities exchange of the world, while in the international arena exchange of unequal values is the norm. It is imposed by the powers that be, by the monopolies. But, in turn, the law of value, this law of commodity production, imposes itself whatever the monopolies may do to obtain their maximum profits! For there is a certain amount of value produced in the world during the production of commodities (of goods) and that imposes itself on all-as crises of production, trade and finance and of politics and military, as general crises of capitalism! This is how the law of value shows itself to all who are engaged in production and exchange of commodities these days!
This imposition of exchange of unequal values in the world trade, does no longer lead to the crises for this or that enterprise, this or that industry, it leads to the crises of this or that country, this or that continent. It leads not to the taken out of production process this or that enterprise, this or that industry, but whole countries and continents. And this leads to production, trade, and finance crises and to political and military crises in the world. Accumulation in the metropolises, usury in the metropolises, in the motherlands of monopolies, based on unequal exchange, for maximum profit is the root cause of all these crises and root cause of the inevitable downfall of imperialist capitalism!
We shall return to this.
PHYSICAL-DIRECT FORM OF CALCULATING LABOUR TIME NEEDED TO PRODUCE GOODS!
Let us for now look in to how the labour time spent in production is to be calculated. There are two main forms of doing this. One is monetary, that is indirectly while the other is physically, that is directly.
We shall leave the indirect method to one side. For only looking at the physical, direct form of calculating labour time spent in production can we understand the labour time spent in production of products. Understanding this is also necessary to the understanding of how to get rid of money and commodity production. And the crises of capitalism!
This process is most clearly explained in “The Capital”, right at the beginning. But we shall take a cursory look at a particular product and this way we can see not only how the labour time spent in its production can be calculated directly, but also see how far the development of socialisation of production process has progressed these days.
Since we shall have to deal with all sorts of “smart people” such as Trotskyites and Anarchists and since even they use this product and since it is called “smart” we shall have a look at the “smart phone”!
A Smart phone has many parts. Not all but some of these are batteries, micro-chips, camera, software, and glass in the front, metal/plastic in casing….For batteries you need lithium and others and somebody to produce the batteries. And somebody need to produce lithium etc. so that the battery can be produced. For micro-chips you need purified silica; gold etc. and somebody to produce the micro-chips. And somebody to produce the purified silica and gold and etc. For cameras you need lenses and others and somebody to produce the camera. And somebody need to produce lenses etc. so that the cameras can be produced. And of course somebody need to write the software that will run the smart phone. To charge the battery you need electricity. Somebody need to produce the electricity. To produce the electricity you need a power station. Somebody need to produce the power station. If the power station uses gas/oil/coal somebody need to produce these. To produce these somebody need to mine them. To mine them somebody should produce mining equipment. And the gas/oil/coal need to be transported to the power station. For transportation gas and oil pipes or tankers need to be produced. The oil etc., need to be transported to refineries for processing. Somebody need to build the refineries. And transport their products to the power stations. To build the power station and refineries and mines and means of transportation for the oil etc., one needs steel, concrete, etc. One may need roads. For the electricity to arrive at home of the smart Trot and Anarchist, one needs electricity cables all the way from the power station and inside the home, and a charger for the smart phone and cabling and connections to connect the smart phone to electricity at home-of the smart Trot and Anarchist. Furthermore, for this smart phone to talk to other smart phones and to all sorts of “service providers” one need satellites and masts and if they are to use the internet not directly but through the wi-fi at home, one needs internet connection at home. For the satellites one needs many parts and someone to produce them, and someone to produce rockets to send them to space….Of course somebody has to put the different parts of the smart phone together so that they do become a smart phone and these days somebody has to buy them in bulk and sell them to the smart Trot and Anarchist individually-and they might as well provide servicing for the smart phone in case the smart Trot and Anarchist damages it. And of course they have to provide the “connection” of the smart phone to the system for the smart Trot and Anarchist!
One could carry on and on!
Thus this simple smart phone is in fact a very much a social product. A very social product indeed. If one part of the production and servicing system fails, smart phone is no more and even if it is, it is of no use and is thus not a smart phone but a nice looking thing! If you like the way they look that is!
What have already mentioned that all these have to be produced by someone!
In other words somebody must spend a certain kind of labour for a certain amount of time!
For all these processes, for all these products that one need to produce and use the smart phone, there must be working people who have the ability to produce all these products. They must have the ability for these different kinds of labour to perform these different kinds of labours and thus to produce these products. They must also spent time performing these different kinds of labour to produce these products. Even at these days of micro-chips, these times of “robots” and automated production, nothing can be done without the working people’s ability to perform different kinds of labour and them labouring certain amount of time using this ability they have to produce all those different things mentioned above.
It is they who produce the power station and then use it to produce electricity, it is they who distribute this electricity to different factories, mines etc. so that all other needed products and thus the smart phone can be produced, it is they who distribute this electricity to different homes so that smart phone can be charged. It is they who produce the satellites and rockets and the masts so that the signals can be transformed all around the world and be received by the smart phone. It is they with their ability to perform different kinds of labour and perform it for a certain time that makes the smart phone able to perform its functions!
Clearly, just as every power station represent certain amount of labour time spent in its production, so does every different kind of labour represent a certain amount of time spent in its production. Thus every kind of labour represent different intensity of labour, they are all different and every second of different kinds of labour represent different amount of time of labour spent. When labour time spent in production of this and that this must be taken into account. If it is not taken into account, the principle of equality would not be applied. And until we achieve plenty, and thus pass into using the principle of from each according to his ability to each according to his needs we need to apply this principle consistently! We shall come to that for the benefit of our smart Trots and Anarchists.
Going back to the calculation of labour time needed to produce a product in general to produce (and use) the smart phones, we need to know labour time spent in the production of each product, and there are many of these as pointed above. So much so that we not only need the knowledge of how much time was spent during the production of a product, say at a factory, we need to know how much labour time was spent in the production of the factory, raw materials etc. etc. too.
Is this possible?
First of all under capitalist conditions each process of production in each factory is very much planned, and thus it is very much timed. Each different process needed in the factory to produce the end product is planned so that not only the different kinds of labour needed at each stage of production but also the labour time to be spent using that kind of labour is timed. Otherwise the factory could not function properly. But while production in the factory is planned, in the wider society competition reigns supreme, that is it is not planned. Under monopoly capitalist conditions the planning in the factory is carried further, monopolies who dominate different processes (say from extracting oil, to transporting the oil to refineries and then transporting the end products of refineries to different factories or individuals (for example petrol for individual car transportation) is also planned and thus different kinds of labour needed for all these interrelated activities and the amount of different kinds of labour needed are also known to the monopolies who control all these interconnected process of production and sale. So planning of production in the wider society creeps in, but is not completed. Planning in the wider society, and indeed internationally, by the monopolies, exists side by side with the competition but this time amongst the monopolies, thus never assume the form of planning of all the interrelated production processes, of the whole social production.
HIGHER FORM OF SOCIETY
This development in the activities of monopolies, by itself, points to the possibility and nay more to the necessity of planning all production in the wider society as a whole. To a higher stage of society! To socialism!
It is thus that under socialism, under the rule of the proletarians we can and easily achieve the planning of all production.
What is needed for this is a knowledge of all the productive capacities of the society as a whole, thus all the different kinds of labour the society possesses and needs, as well as a knowledge of amount of labour time needed of each kind of labour to produce each product, and thus the whole, annual, products of the society as a whole. Thus the planning of further increases in the productive capacity of the whole socialist society-which calls for the creation of working people who can perform new kinds of labour and labour time needed by them to operate all the increased means of labour.
(to be continued)