The Foundation of Structural-Anarchism and Structural-Anarchism Economics

[This is a response to supporters of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who have discussed my recent article in Dissident Voice titled: “A Structural-Anarchism Critique of Automation in relation to Artificially Fabricated Price, Value and Wage”.  These supporters discussed the article on the Socialist Party of Great Britain’s forum whereupon Structural-Anarchism Economics was more or less linked in a few specific instances to the currency crank economists, who believe that value can be manifested out of thin-air by the central banks, etc. Consequently, this is a rebuttal of this accusation in an effort to illustrate that structural-anarchism economics is founded on the same ground as Marxist economics, namely, upon the solid ground of labor-power, or more specifically and more broadly speaking, the solid ground of creative-power.]

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Part I

First and foremost, for structural-anarchism, value is not created out of thin-air. It is created via a ruling ideational comprehensive framework, namely, when an idea and/or activity, emanating from conceptual-perception and/or physical exertion, is validated by the ruling ideational comprehensive framework of a socio-economic formation as having value, specifically, as having a specific number value, which is agreed upon by the governing representative-agents of the ruling ideational comprehensive framework, and later grudgingly accepted by the masses. In our current, capitalist socio-economic formation, it is the logic of capitalism, expressed through various governing entities, human or otherwise, that predominantly determines and allots specific numerical values to things, services and/or manufactured images. Of course, there is in every sphere of production stationed across post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, enormous expenditures of scientifically quantifiable labor-power, but these quantifiable expenditures of labor-power do not have numerical values and/or prices until these expenditures are accepted as valid by the ruling ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism, which as well establishes the parameters of value and price-determinations.

Consequently, in the end, it is the ruling enterprising-networks of capitalism that, arbitrarily, establish values, prices and wages. Scientifically quantifiable labor-time, which is so central to any Marxist analysis, is only one possible avenue for determining value, price and wage, namely, it is only one consideration among many, when ruling enterprising-networks have consolidated their governing power over a specific sphere of production. It is in this regard that, contrary to Marx’s estimations, production costs can steadily decrease across a sphere of production while prices steadily increase across a sphere of production.

For structural-anarchism, like Marxism, no value is created out of thin-air. All values stem from mental and physical activity, but, contrary to Marx, for structural-anarchism, value is not considered value until the ruling ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism has christened it such. As a result, within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, value is predominantly the product of conceptual-perception, conceptual-perception mediated through the ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism, which normalizes, legitimatizes and popularizes certain value/wage/price-determinations as valid and acceptable over an extended period of time and space. It is the overarching, ruling, capitalist-networks within a specific sphere of production that crystalize and ossify certain specific values, prices and wage-determinations onto specific, fetishized goods, activities, services and/or images within a specific sphere of production.

It is in this regard that structural-anarchism, in agreement with Marx, posits mental and physical activity as the fount of value, while, in contrast to Marx, structural-anarchism posits the ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism, exercised through the medium of ruling oligarchical networks, within a specific sphere of production, as the determinate-arbiter and authoritative applicator of actual, numerical value-sums, price-sums and wage-sums to things and people. For Marx, numerical value-sums, price-sums and wage-sums are the product of scientifically, quantifiable, expenditures of labor-time, there is no ideological influence involved in value, price and wage-determinations. For Marx, values, prices and wages are completely independent of ideology. Everything for Marx depends on socially necessary labor-time and scientifically quantifiable expenditures of labor-power within the capitalist production process.

To the contrary, for structural-anarchism, political ideology is intimately involved in determining values, prices and wages. And it is for this reason, according to structural-anarchism economics, that within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, value, price and wage are increasingly arbitrary and the product of theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management, that is, the product of oligarchical manipulations and machinations of conceptual-perception, manufactured through ruling enterprising-networks within and across specific spheres of production. In fact, it is those capitalist-networks, capable of controlling specific spheres of production, which are able to establish arbitrary values, prices and wages, that is, values, prices and wages which have nothing to do with actual expenditures of socially necessary labor-time and/or scientifically measurable quantities of labor-power, and everything to do with power and an entities control over a specific commodity and/or sphere of production.

It is in this regard that APPLE Inc. can grind wages down in China to almost nil, while charging ever-increasing sums for products in North America and Europe, where production costs are relatively minor and/or miniscule in comparison to commodity-prices and profits. APPLE Inc. and its few competitors have oligarchical-network-control over their commodity markets. Thus they can squeeze production costs to almost zero, while simultaneously raising commodity-prices across the world.

As a result, like Marx, structural-anarchism posits the fount of value upon human activity; however, unlike Marx and his reliance on the purity of scientifically quantifiable labor-time in determining value, price and wage, structural-anarchism, understands that ideology; i.e., the governing ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism expressed through ruling enterprising-networks is intimately involved in determining value, price and wage, according to arbitrary standards. In this regard, for structural-anarchism, it is the power of the ruling ideology of capitalism, exercising its influence on all the factors involved in the production and reproduction of value, price and wage, which is short-circuiting the influence of the regulatory mechanism of socially necessary labor-time in favor of the artificial fabrication of value, price and wage; i.e., theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management. Within post-industrial, post-modern, bourgeois-state-capitalism, value, price and wage increasingly have nothing to do with socially necessary labor-time and scientifically quantifiable expenditures of labor-power, and everything to do with what an entity or network can get away with, pertaining to its governing power over a specific sphere of production and sphere of consumption.

Moreover, as long as people accept arbitrary values, prices and wage-determinations applied to specific fetishized activities, products, images and services etc., by the ruling capitalist powers that be, these arbitrary values, prices and wages, which have nothing to do with socially necessary labor-time and nothing to do with accurate scientific measurements or factuality, will continue to rise unabated, unchallenged and unexpectedly, simply on the vagaries of the ruling capitalist-networks, which have attained oligarchical-control over the spheres of production. The reason is that, once socially necessary labor-time has been jettisoned, including its scientific, quantifiable basis of labor-power, there is nothing concrete capable of stabilizing value, price and wage-fluctuations, both up and/or down, there is nothing concrete to stop the ruling capitalist-networks expressing the ideology of capitalism from slowly or hurriedly raising values, prices and wages at will and without good reason. This is exactly what is happening within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, resulting in ever-increasing financial inequality, social immobility and the disintegration of old modernist class divisions. Only the formation of anti-capitalist alliances and groups can prevent a return to some form feudalism; i.e., a corporate financial feudalism.

It has been argued that inflation/deflation have a part to play in all of these seeming arbitrary value, price and wage-determinations and fluctuations, but for structural-anarchism economics, the effect of inflation/deflation are simply a by-product and/or an effect of the practical applications of conceptual-commodity-value-management. That is, inflation/deflation are effects of the artificial fabrication of arbitrary values, prices and wages by ruling enterprising-networks and not the other way around. Foremost, inflation is a continuous increase in the general price level of goods and services across an economy over an extended period of time, while deflation is a continuous decrease in the general price level of goods and services across an economy over an extended period of time.

When price levels rise (inflation), money buys fewer goods and services, therefore, inflation tends to reflect a diminution in purchasing power. In contrast, when price levels fall (deflation), money buys more goods and services, therefore deflation tends to reflect an increase in purchasing power.  Economists generally believe that extensive inflation is caused by an increase in the money supply, while extensive deflation is caused by a decrease in the money supply, but these opinions can vary. Secondly, for most economists, the mechanism of supply and demand tends to play a role in inflation or deflation to varying degrees, depending on the value and price of things in general.

Notwithstanding, few economists, acknowledge the power and influence of ruling enterprising-networks over specific industries and/or spheres of production in determining a set of arbitrary values, prices and wages. This is due to the fact this is political economics and not strict economics.  Economics is always devoid of politics. As a result, from the strict economics perspective, value, price and wage are always a matter of autonomous market mechanisms like supply and demand, rather than concrete ideological influences on markets and such things as price, value and wage. For economics, the invisible, autonomous, law-like mechanisms of the markets, govern economic conditions, while for structural-anarchism political-economics, these invisible, autonomous, law-like mechanisms are effects or by-products of real man-made value, price and wage-determinations; i.e., arbitrary fabricated values, prices and wages constructed through theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management, which have relatively nothing to do with socially necessary labor-time and/or any autonomous market mechanisms such as supply and demand. Machine-like economic laws and mechanisms manifest themselves when arbitrary values, prices and wages are normalized, accepted and allowed to circulate unfettered and/or unchallenged in the marketplace.

For example, a Black Friday Fire Sale, which is a deflationary microeconomic situation, is not the product of autonomous, law-like, market mechanisms. It is a conscious decision by an enterprise of some sort to artificially lower its commodity-prices, thus manifesting a microscopic deflationary situation, whereupon, through the practical application of conceptual-commodity-value-management, purchasing power is significantly increased for consumers temporarily, resulting in a mad rush and/or a purchasing frenzy. Inversely, when prices are manually increased after the Black Friday Fire Sale to their former levels or higher, thus setting the stage for next year’s anticipated Black Friday Fire Sale, an inflationary microeconomic situation is manufactured, whereupon, consumers shy away from purchases, due to their artificially decreased purchasing power.

There is nothing concerning Adam Smith’s invisible hand; i.e., autonomous market mechanisms, involved in microeconomic situations like Black Friday Fire Sales. However, there is the direct application and influence of conceptual-commodity-value-management involved in these micro-economic situations, where inflationary/deflationary situations are consciously manufactured through arbitrary value, price and wage fabrications, which seemingly appear like the effects of autonomous market mechanisms, when, in fact, the opposite is the case. The same logic applies to macro-economic situations, whereupon theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management are artificially utilized by large oligarchical-networks to fabricate arbitrary values, prices and wages, on a broad scale over an extended period of time and space, which manifest inflationary and/or deflationary effects and consequences, depending on the intended purpose. Once again, these inflationary and/or deflationary consequences are misinterpreted for actual causes, brought about by autonomous, law-like, market mechanisms, when, in fact, these inflationary and/or deflationary consequences are solely the by-product of the practical applications of conceptual-commodity-value-management upon value, price and wage in an arbitrary manner in order to maximize profit. In this regard, inflation/deflation is an effect and/or a by-product of the practical application of theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management.

When value, price and wage have been unfastened from socially necessary labor-time and scientifically quantifiable expenditures of labor-power, the cornerstones of any modern labor theory of value and economics, value, price and wage become increasingly subject to the vagaries of conceptual-perception and theories of conceptual-commodity-value-management. Due to the fact that value, price and wage are always defined by and determined by the ruling ideology, that is, the ruling ideational comprehensive framework’s influences and actions upon conceptual-perception, the conceptual-perceptions of the populace.  As a result, when there is an ideological shift and/or a paradigm shift in the political-economic framework of society, in turn there is a shift in the manner by which value, price and wage are determined and set. That is, a new methodology and mechanism establishes itself in determining value, price and wage. Subsequently, when the broad political-economic shift from modernity to post-modernity occurred, the manner by which value, price and wage were determined also shifted and was unfastened from its modernist foundation; i.e., the foundation of scientifically quantifiable labor-time and the rigors of scientific measurement. Increasingly, due to this paradigm shift from modernity to post-modernity, value, price and wage-determinations became increasingly subjective, arbitrary and whimsical due to their increasing separation from old modernist labor theories of value. In fact, value, price and wage, within newly-minted, post-industrial, post-modern, bourgeois-state-capitalism were increasingly determined by and the product of the power derived from large-scale, network-domination over a specific sphere of production.

All in all, it is the ideational comprehensive framework of capitalism that determines the parameters of what constitutes value and productive/unproductive labor-power. In reality, different ideational comprehensive frameworks will define value and productive/unproductive labor differently. This same logic applies to value, price and wage in the sense that a different, ruling, ideational comprehensive framework will define and determine value, price and wage differently. Therefore, it is important to foster a socialist alternative such as structural-anarchism economics in contrast to capitalism economics, so as to develop a solid revolutionary platform that can counter the arbitrary values, prices and wages of capitalist oligarchical-networks.

A revolutionary platform is needed, which can adequately contest sudden and/or gradual, arbitrary value, price and/or wage-increases across post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism. In addition, a revolutionary platform is needed to put forward the antagonistic notion that if value, price and wage are fundamentally arbitrary within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, then value, price and wage can be socially constructed differently, according to a different set of parameters and logic, namely, a more egalitarian logic, the logic of structural-anarchism and anarcho-socialism relations.

However, this requires revolutionaries across the globe both to jettison Marx’s faulty notion that scientifically quantifiable expenditure of labor-power is the sole determining factor of value, price and wage-determinations, devoid of all ideological influences, and to embrace the broader definition of labor-power offered by structural-anarchism economics, namely, creative-power. They must embrace the fact that ideology and/or ideational comprehensive frameworks have a profound influence on value, price and wage-determinations in the sense that when value, price and wage are unfastened from the grounding science of socially necessary labor-time, ideology fills the vacuum and manufactures what constitutes productive/unproductive activity and what constitutes value, price and wage, according to arbitrary parameters, devoid of solid foundation and/or ground etc. That is, value, price and wage-determinations become subject to whatever an entity or network can get away with, when it has control over a specific sphere of production and sphere of consumption.

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Next is an examination how the structural-anarchism concept of creative-power is both the fount of value, akin to Marx, and, contrary to Marx, a larger more inclusive formulation of Marxian labor-power.

Part II

The nexus of Karl Marx’s whole modern rational theory of value; i.e., the law of value, is predicated on the assumption that “labor-power constantly creates value and surplus-value as long as it continues to function”1, embedded within the capitalist production process, according to the parameters set by what is socially necessary, namely, the average labor-time and working conditions of a specific sphere of production. Only labor, stationed in the organizational process of production, working for capital under the limits of what is deemed socially necessary by a particular industrial branch, is value-creating. As Marx states “labor-power counts as…value, but in the production process it [is] the creator of value”.2

What this means is that labor-power is solely considered productive hardwired in production, functioning according to what is the average social necessity concerning appropriate labor-time, for a particular sphere of production. For Marx, outside of production, labor is unproductive. It is imperative, according to Marx, that labor be immersed in capitalist production, regulated by the parameters of social necessity; i.e., socially determined necessary labor-time, in order to be productive. Socially necessary labor-time is the regulative mechanism that disciplines and regiments labor and capital according to the acceptable social parameters derived from both public necessity and industrial standards.

Ultimately, within Marx’s modern rational theory of value; i.e., the law of value, labor-power is the source of all value, both value and surplus value. For Marx, value is something quantifiable, objective and finite.  It can be scientifically measured in units and/or segments of time, namely “value…is labor-time”3; its magnitude is measured “by means of the quantity of value forming substance, the labor, [it] contains; [it is]…labor-time…measured on the scale of…hours, days etc.”4 As a result, value is, according to Marx, “the expenditure of identical human labor-power”5 over an identical period of time. In this regard, “each unit [of labor-power] is the same as any other, to the extent that it has the character of a socially average unit of labor-power and acts as such”5; value is identical units of labor-power expended over specific periods or segments of time.

Consequently, from the Marxist perspective, value is something definite and scientifically quantifiable. It is something that can be scientifically measured in the sense that one can measure the exact labor-time socially necessary to manufacture a particular commodity. And for Marx, this scientifically measured labor-time, embodied in a commodity, is the basis of value; i.e., it is value, itself. And being true to the scientific method, for Marx, value, which cannot be neatly translated into quantifiable labor-time; i.e., exact temporal units of labor-power, or specifically, a scientifically determined socially necessary labor-time, which governs a specific economic branch, is in the end not value, it is unproductive. Marx’s whole rational edifice of capital outlined in the rational theory of value; i.e., the law of value, laid-out in his three volumes, is grounded on this notion that value is scientifically quantifiable labor-time and nothing else.

However, value is non-material. It is incorporeal. It is always something that is mediated by something else; i.e., a commodity, money, labor, price, etc., which serve the purpose, according to Marx, of representing and expressing value, “value…is expressed by an imaginary quantity of the money commodity”.6 Value is quantifiable and is visibly equated in monetary terms and scientifically accurate segments of time.  For Marx, what commodities, money and workers represent is always scientifically quantifiable, exact measurements of labor-power, that is, quantifiable labor-time, value is, for Marx, scientifically measured labor-time, that is, labor-power = labor-time = value, when embedded in production and conforming to parameters of socially necessary labor-time. When regimented along the lines of the socially necessary labor-time, governing a specific production process, labor-power inserts its own extracted value, which is measured in scientific time units, into the things it has been socially regimented to produce. For Marx, things acquire a value because labor-power, which has been bought for a period of time from the laborer by the capitalist, is worked into a finished product within the production process, a process that is regulated by socially necessary labor-time; i.e., the average labor-time required within an economic sphere in order to produce a given commodity. As Marx states:

Socially necessary labor-time is the labor-time required to produce any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labor prevalent in that society. Commodities which contain equal quantities of labor, or which can be produced in the same time, have therefore the same value.7

Anything produced at the average expenditure of labor-time, at the average intensity of labor-power can be said to have been produced according to the parameters of socially necessary labor-time, and is thus valuable; i.e., it possesses a certain quantifiable value which reflects the given socially necessary labor-time indicative of a particular sphere of production. Of course, there are many factors that go into determining socially necessary labor-time. Marx names a few, such as “degree of skill, the level of development of science and its technological application, the social organization of the process of production”8 and competition, etc., which influence production and socially necessary labor-time in a feed-back loop that continually stimulates production to expand, cut-costs and to ever-refine its productive capacities, through the stimulation of scientific innovation, technological innovation and organizational innovation, etc.

According to Marx, socially necessary labor-time is a law-like socio-economic-mechanism that regulates capitalist-production, driving this capitalist-production towards greater expansion, greater amelioration and greater levels of value-exploitation of the workforce via the coercive law of competition, which, itself, influences the parameters of socially necessary labor-time. For Marx, competition stimulates individual capitalists, within a particular sphere of production, to ameliorate their individual production processes in order to produce below the level of socially necessary labor-time. To do so means that these capitalists are more cost-effective and thus more apt to cultivate greater levels of surplus value and profits because they have cut costs in relation to average price below the levels dictated by the regulating mechanism of socially necessary labor-time. As a result, these capitalists have expanded the ratio between cost of production and price at a greater level than that dictated by the regulating mechanism of socially necessary labor-time. Ultimately, for Marx, this translates into greater profits for efficient capitalists in relations to their competitors. This drive to produce below the socially necessary labor-time within their specific sphere of production, enables these cost-efficient capitalists to reap greater profits then their competitors who continue to produce at the socially necessary labor-time. As Marx states:

There is a motive for each individual capitalist to cheapen his commodities, by increasing the productivity of labor…The increased production of surplus-value arises from the curtailment of the [socially] necessary labor-time, and the corresponding prolongation of the surplus labor. [In essence], Capital. . .has an immanent drive, and a constant tendency, towards increasing the productivity of labor, in order to cheapen commodities. . .The process both cheapens commodities and augments the surplus value contained in them.9

This cheapening of commodities via increased productivity enables cost-efficient capitalists to appropriate higher profits by producing below the socially necessary labor-time within their specific economic branch while keeping the selling price of their commodities at and/or below the average selling price within their specific economic branch. By producing below the socially necessary labor-time, these cost-effective capitalists are able to sell their commodities more cheaply and more abundantly in relation to their competitors who continue to produce at the socially necessary labor-time and thus have to sell their commodities at the socially necessary average price.

Producing more cheaply means the ability to sell more cheaply and this also means the capacity to sell more goods and to appropriate a greater segment of the market, and “if [the capitalist] attains the object he is aiming at…[and] prices his goods only a small percentage lower than his competitors. He drives them [i.e. his competitors,] off the field, he wrests from them at least a part of their market, by underselling them”.10  In this regard, according to Marx, competition drives capitalists to ever-increasingly produce below the average production time limit set by the regulating mechanism of socially necessary labor-time.

Notwithstanding, this Marxist concept of a law-like mechanism; i.e., socially necessary labor-time, regulating capitalist production, is predicated on the assumption that value, by Marx’s own definition, is only scientifically quantifiable labor-time and nothing else. For Marx, “the substance of value [is] labor-time”11, specifically socially necessary labor-time, measured in scientifically exact quantities of time deemed socially necessary, pertaining to a specific sphere of production.  However, is Marx correct in his definition? Or has he missed the amplitude, multitude and magnitude of value; namely, has Marx reduced the concept of value to the narrow confines of scientific measurement and by doing so, missed the importance, malleability and fluidity by which multi-dimensional value, informs, shapes and influences price, wage, profit, production, consumption,  distribution and capitalism, in general, etc.

Principally, Marx is correct when he argues that labor-power is the source value, but Marx fails to discern that labor-power is, in fact, the source of a specific type of value, namely, scientific quantifiable value, which also means that labor-power is itself scientifically quantifiable akin to scientifically quantifiable value. For Marx, labor-power is a quantity of measurable labor-time applied to the coefficient measurement of socially necessary labor-time, meaning, that labor-power is, in essence, scientifically quantifiable just like value, due to the fact that labor-power expunges only scientifically quantifiable value. As a result, Marx has reduced both the concept of value, and in the process, labor-power as well, to the narrow confines of scientifically quantifiable measurement. In actuality, value is multi-varied. It can be both quantifiable and unquantifiable.

In addition, labor-power is multi-varied. It can be both quantifiable and unquantifiable. By reducing and condensing value and labor-power to the rigors of the narrow limits of scientific quantification, Marx has missed a variety of socio-economic phenomena that escape scientific quantification and more or less can never be quantified, such as the importance of networking and/or position within the capitalist hierarchy, etc., namely, the importance of power and influence in determining value, price and wage. Therefore, a re-formulation and elaboration of value and labor-power is necessary if a more comprehensive understanding of capitalism and the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution are to be developed, which both expands and progresses from Marx’s analysis and is, in turn, able to explain the vast array of socio-economic phenomena that cannot be explained via Marx’s labor theory of value; i.e., the law of value.

First and foremost, a broader concept of labor-power is needed in order to encapsulate the variety of corporeal, incorporeal, physical and mental activities that enrich, influence and inform capitalist processes and more importantly, values, which are outside scientific quantification. The best concept that encapsulates this variety and multiplicity of values is creative-power. It is, in fact, creative-power, which embodies labor-power within itself, that is, the source of value, both quantifiable value and unquantifiable value. Contrary to Marx, labor-power is only the source of a specific type of value; i.e., scientific quantifiable value, while value, in general and par excellence, embodies scientific quantifiable value within itself, in a vast plethora of both quantifiable and unquantifiable types of values. More importantly, creative-power emanates from an insatiable drive for ownership/knowledge housed in human consciousness while labor-power is a specific type of creative-power that specifically produces scientific quantifiable value when subjected to the rigors and artificial parameters of socially necessary labor-time.

On the other hand, more broadly, creative-power produces values of all sorts and types that are not necessarily capable of being scientifically quantified. Creative-power produces general-value. General-value; i.e., value in general, is both quantifiable and unquantifiable, scientific and non-scientific, etc. It can be an admixture of the two categories and/or be specifically one or the other. Finally, in addition, creative-power can be instantaneous.  It can be social, meaning that it can be sparked through conversation, dialogue, quiet reflection, writing, thinking, etc. It can be unscientific. Creative-power can come from anywhere within a society, any sector or stratum.  As a result, it does not necessarily conform to the scientific rigors of socially necessary labor-time specific to a production process, etc.

Notwithstanding, in general and by proxy, through labor-power, creative-power produces both quantifiable and unquantifiable value, both value that can be scientifically measured, like Marx argues, and value, contrary to Marx, that cannot be scientifically measured but nonetheless at times and in certain spaces has a substantial influence on the capitalist processes of production, consumption and distribution in a variety of ways, both direct and indirect. General-value is the product of the creative-power that emanates from an insatiable drive for ownership/knowledge.  It can be anything from aesthetic-value, color-value, moral-value, emotional-value, cultural-value and/or financial quantifiable value, etc. As a result, contrary to Marx, general-value does not necessarily equate to exact measurable units of labor-time, that is, general-value in essence is invaluable and priceless. It is only the Marxist ideational-comprehensive framework and/or the modern capitalist ideational-comprehensive-framework that favors and acknowledges exclusively scientific quantifiable value, derived from labor-power subjected to the parameters of socially necessary labor-time, as the sole designation and definition of value. It is only these two frameworks “that reduce the multiplicity of [values and] surplus values to the narrow confines of financial quantifiable capital, i.e. monetary gain and capital/money accumulation par excellence and nothing else”.12

In actuality, value and labor-power are much more multi-varied, fluctuating, and malleable forces than Marx’s initial analysis conceives. In fact, creative-power and general-value, which embody quantifiable value and quantifiable labor-power within themselves, influence capitalist processes in a variety of unquantifiable ways that exceed Marx’s strict scientific/rational analysis. By and large, creative-power is a broader understanding of labor-power, and general-value is a broader understanding of scientifically quantifiable value. In fact, creative-power and general-value infiltrate and permeate all areas of capitalist production, consumption and distribution, both destabilizing and intensifying capitalist processes and capitalism in general:

This model outlines the notion that creative-power has a hand in both producing general-value and, more specifically, scientific quantifiable value. Although, creative-power is not acknowledged within Marx’s rational labor theory of value; i.e., the law of value, and is, in fact, dismissed as unproductive, creative-power, nonetheless influences the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution, so much so that creative-power is, in fact, the source of both general-value and scientific quantifiable value. It has a hand in all value, price, profit and wage-determinations. Creative-power impacts all the capitalist processes of production, consumption and distribution, both in quantitative manners and non-quantitative manners. For instance, can the importance, influence and magnitude of network-connection or network-affiliation, concerning such things as value, price and/or wage-determinations be scientifically measured?  For Marx, the answer is a resounding No! As he states:

If we have a function which, although in and for itself unproductive, is nevertheless a necessary moment of reproduction…this does not change the character of the function itself. [This function] should…be considered as a machine that reduces the expenditure of useless energy, or helps to set free production time. [Thus, it is] a necessary function, because the reproduction process itself includes unproductive functions…[that] create neither value nor products.13

The sharp line of demarcation that Marx draws between productive and unproductive functions is founded on a strict ideological guideline. Only those functions that are directly involved in the production process at the level of the assembly-line and/or the division of labor, directly producing products according to the parameters of socially necessary labor-time, are productive functions, occupied in directly producing value and surplus value. By Marx’s definition, these functions exercise labor-power as only labor-power, directly subjected to the parameters of socially necessary labor-time inside the capitalist production process, can produce value. On the other hand, all those functions that reduce the expenditure of useless energy, facilitate circulation, production and distribution that are not necessarily involved in the production process at the level of the assembly-line and/or the division of labor, directly producing products, are, according to Marx, unproductive. By Marx’s definition, these functions do not create value and surplus value, despite the fact they are crucial in facilitating the amelioration, the realization and the development of the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution.

Notwithstanding, contrary to Marx, these unproductive functions exercise a form of labor-power; despite the fact that this form of labor-power is, according to Marx, unproductive. Moreover, these unproductive functions ameliorate, facilitate and accelerate capitalist reproduction.  Thus contrary to Marx’s definition, they are, in fact, productive: productive in facilitating, ameliorating and perfecting capitalist reproduction. They add unquantifiable value to the system by perfecting the system, and due to Marx’s strict adherence to a narrow definition of value, Marx is forced to categorize these functions as unproductive because these functions cannot be scientifically measured. This is an ideological bias by Marx as different ideological frameworks would define productive and unproductive labor differently according to a different set of assumptions.

In fact, contrary to Marx, these unproductive functions comprise a major component of creative-power in action, which in contrast to Marx, are productive, as only productive functions can ameliorate, facilitate and accelerate capitalist reproduction and exploitation, regardless if they are fully immersed in the capitalist production process or not. These so-called unproductive functions may be slightly removed from direct capitalist production and the parameters of socially necessary labor-time; nevertheless, they are intimately involved in the structure, the movement, the process, the developments and the realizations of capital across the stratums of capitalist production, circulation and distribution.  That is, these so-called unproductive functions exercise creative-power in the amelioration, facilitation and perfection of capitalism.

Unproductive functions, to use Marx’s terminology, are invaluable and priceless for the maintenance and growth of the capitalist-system; capitalism cannot do with them, hence their undeniable and unquantifiable value beyond the regulatory mechanism of socially necessary labor-time. In fact, capitalism goes to great lengths to absorb the creative-power inherent in unproductive functions. For example, the whole travel industry and entertainment industry is hardwired to absorb unproductivity and leisure-time as essential unquantifiable values central to the maintenance and growth of the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution. Creative-power is the fuel of capitalist material reproduction, capitalist ideological reproduction and capitalist expansion and amelioration. Moreover, it is the creative-power of capitalists, themselves, which drive them to machinate value-sums, price-sums and wage-sums according to their own arbitrary conceptual-perceptions; i.e., vagaries and whims, solely based on the fact that their enterprising-networks control the means of mental and physical production, consumption and distribution.

The value which creative-power generates is not necessarily scientifically quantifiable, but it is nonetheless the value that sustains, maintains, normalizes, revolutionizes, refines and expands the processes of capitalism. It is value that, although un-quantifiable, perpetually fuels the logic of capitalism stationed at the center of capitalist production, consumption and distribution. These so-called unproductive functions, exercising creative-power in a multitude of socio-economic sectors, refine, improve and advance the systems and processes of capitalist production, consumption and distribution, permitting the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution to reduce expenditures and, I dare say, expand its extraction and accumulation capabilities.

More importantly, these so-called unproductive functions normalize the logic of capitalism; i.e., the logic, that impels and forces the maximization of “profit by any means necessary at the lowest financial cost as soon as possible”.14 In fact, creative-power is the intelligence and force, permeating all the capitalist structures of labor-power, which is able to fasten and/or unfasten the brute force of labor-power that is directly fixed to the assembly-lines and divisions of labor pervading capitalism, namely, the many capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution. Creative-power is the fulcrum of capitalism itself.  It refines and perfects the socio-economic processes of capitalism and it normalizes the brutally and the exploitation of the capitalist-system. Creative-power is primarily unquantifiable value, as a result, it is the unacknowledged, unpaid, central-operating-code and revolutionary force that contours all capitalist processes, magically making them grow and proliferate in all sorts of unexpected ways under our noses.

In sum, the creative-power that permeates capitalism in general has an innate ability to circumvent the pitfalls outlined by Marx’s fatalist capitalist analysis in Volume 3. More importantly, the creative-power that permeates capitalism in general has an innate ability to negate Marx’s rational labor theory of value, that is, the law of value, which is itself based on a rigorous economic rationality that, although beautiful and well-organized in its exposition, lacks pragmatic verity in describing real post-industrial, post-modern socio-economic phenomena. This is not to say that Marx totally missed the mark, but his emphasis on scientific quantification and the scientific quantification of value, namely, that value can only be measured and thought of in seconds, minutes, hours, and days of exact unit-expenditures of labor-power, means that Marx reduced capitalism to a mechanistic law-like Newtonian clock/apparatus.

The fact is that capitalism; i.e., the logic of capitalism, is far more plural, adaptable and cunning, to ever limit itself to the confines of a rational labor theory of value; i.e., an overarching indisputable law of value, that is, socially necessary labor-time. Its sole premise, if it has one, is to maximize profit by any means necessary at the lowest financial cost as soon as possible. Thus, capitalism is without set mechanistic laws. Consequently, due to his strict use of economic reason and rigorous scientific analysis, Marx, ultimately reduced the logic and the apparatus of capitalism to inflexibility, inelasticity and homogeneity, a rigid system governed by a set of narrow immutable laws incapable of malleability, dexterity and heterogeneity. For Marx, capitalism is a scientific, quantifiable equalizing apparatus, where value, labor-power, price, wages, etc., are predictable and categorically constant over time and over space, due to the fact that capitalism is founded on an economic science and scientific quantification.

Apropos, Marx failed to notice the creative-power and the structural-anarchism influencing, shaping and informing the capitalist modes of production, consumption and distribution, beyond what can be scientifically quantified. He called creative-power unproductive labor and, being unproductive, it was beyond the strict parameters of mechanistic economic reason at the heart of the capitalist economy. Marx never saw that his demarcation between productive and unproductive was the product of his own ideology and capitalist ideology, meaning that a different ideational comprehensive framework would, materially and conceptually, organize and define labor-power, value, price and wage, etc., differently. As a result, Marx had a tendency to envision capital, and capitalism, as a mechanical homogenizing force, hardwired towards general equalization across all spheres, whereupon value, price and wage, etc., were fundamentally the product of scientific, quantified measurements of labor-power, conforming to the regulatory mechanism of socially necessary labor-time. However, the truth is, within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, value, price and wage-determinations have many unpredictable elements and outcomes, which far-exceed the predictable results envisioned by Marx and his steadfast reliance on scientifically quantifiable labor-time.

Subsequently, structural-anarchism economics has had to enlarge Marx’s concept of labor-power and value in order to adequately explain the seeming economic irrationalities that directly contradict Marx’s analysis, including the radical arbitrariness in the way value, price and wage are determined beyond old Marxist principles. Finally, through small structural adjustments pertaining to Marx’s basic analytical concepts, structural-anarchism economics can actually explain and give suitable reasons for many of the socio-economic irregularities within post-industrial, post-modern bourgeois-state-capitalism, which stem directly from the arbitrary and artificial fabrication of value, price and wage, etc., including a solution, revolution and/or a persistent, antagonistic war of attrition.

  1. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume Two), Trans. David Fernbach (London: Penguin Books, 1992) 299. []
  2. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume Three), Trans. David Fernbach (London: Penguin Books, 1991) 120. []
  3. Ibid, 368. []
  4. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes (London Eng.: Penguin, 1990) 129. []
  5. Ibid, 129. [] []
  6. Ibid, 190. []
  7. Ibid, 129-130. []
  8. Ibid, 130. []
  9. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes (London Eng.: Penguin, 1990) 435-437. []
  10. Karl Marx, Wage Labor and Capital, (New York, New York: International Publishers, 1976) 40-41. []
  11. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes (London Eng.: Penguin, 1990) 131. []
  12. Michel Luc Bellemare, The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism), (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc.) 1.c). []
  13. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume Two), Trans. David Fernbach (London: Penguin Books, 1992) 209. []
  14. Michel Luc Bellemare, The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism), (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc.) 24.h). []

Michel Luc Bellemare is the author of The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism) Read other articles by Michel Luc.