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 Post subject: Historical existence of simple commodity production
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:11 pm 
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Can someone point out an example of a simple commodity producer, or a system of simple commodity production? Marx did not use those terms, referring instead to simple commodity exchange. What is simple commodity production? How and when does simple commodity production exist as a dominant mode of production? Were the social organizations of the Incas and Aztecs "simple commodity production"? How about the feudal orders with their extensive grain trading networks? Simple commodity production?



Yes, I can. I already linked to Dunaevsky's article (https://libcom.org/library/law-value-un ... -dunaevsky) that refers to the existence of SCP (focused on Germany mostly) on the relevant thread about it: camatte-on-simple-commodity-production-t1254.html Sorry for the quality of translation:

Quote:
a certain approximate regime of relations the Medieval regional towns in Western Europe, especially Germany – are the classic example of the real existence of simple commodity structures.

The best illustration of the historical veracity of the position of Engels: the numerous "statutes" of magistrates, regulating the relations of production of the craft of a city, and the economic doctrine of the canonists, summarising the real economic relations of their time. The teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas about "Justum pretium" (just price) is devoted to the proof of the need to maintain relations of equality of commodity producers. In legal and ethical form the doctrine of "Justum praecium" presented the commitment of exchange on the basis of equal equivalents and equality of the subjects of exchange.



etc. (also see the footnotes)

Estimates regarding the extent of simple commodity production in Holland, Flanders and England, can be found in Table 10 of chapter 9 of 'Shaping Medieval Markets: The Organisation of Commodity Markets in Holland, C. 1200 - C. 1450'. Jessica Dijkman, 2011 (pdf of the book can be found online, or just go to googlebooks page 341 https://books.google.com/books?id=I_5uc3i4WwoC ), titled "Share of labour input in market-oriented activities". By early to mid 14th century in all three regions it is estimated at around or above 50%. By late 15th century/early 16th century this share has become quite predominant.

Of course, as Kautsky writes:

Quote:
As with all the other major epochs of economic development, simple commodity-production has never prevailed in its pure form, but always mixed with other forms, such as natural economy, feudalism and guild-based monopoly. Likewise, under simple commodity-production, the law of value was only able to operate effectively where regular production by free and mutually competing producers for the market managed to develop within the prevailing limitations.


It's not so important if Marx did not use the exact phrase, he did use the concept.
A quote from Capital volume 1:

Quote:
Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence. But it flourishes, it lets loose its whole energy, it attains its adequate classical form, only where the labourer is the private owner of his own means of labour set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso. ...

This mode of production presupposes parcelling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production. As it excludes the concentration of these means of production, so also it excludes cooperation, division of labour within each separate process of production, the control over, and the productive application of the forces of Nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers. It is compatible only with a system of production, and a society, moving within narrow and more or less primitive bounds.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:50 am 
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The petty mode of production is a subsistence mode of production; and is clearly from Marx's own description not a mode where commodity production dominates; where production is the production of commodities for the purpose of exchange.

Hence there is indeed in petty modes of production, surplus, and exchange of surplus, and therefore simply commodity EXCHANGE, but the "parcelling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production" excludes production of by and for the accumulation of VALUE.

The point is not that markets don't exist. Of course they did. They existed in Rome, Greece, etc. etc. But production was not determined by these markets, which is to say, the condition of labor was not determined by these markets.

All the examples and reference you provide simply confirm that commodities were produced prior to the ascendancy of capitalism. But those pre-existing systems were not systems of commodity production.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:32 pm 
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reposting this from a facebook discussion I had two years ago:

I think pre-capitalist England is the main example in Marx of simple commodity production (before primitive accumulation dispossessed individual private proprietors), because it is the greatest extent in which SCP pre-dominated (it is self-evident that SCP never existed as a full MoP.):

ch 27 Marx describes what is SCP in England on the advent of capitalism:

Quote:
In England, serfdom had practically disappeared in the last part of the 14th century. The immense majority of the population [1] consisted then, and to a still larger extent, in the 15th century, of free peasant proprietors, whatever was the feudal title under which their right of property was hidden. In the larger seignorial domains, the old bailiff, himself a serf, was displaced by the free farmer. The wage labourers of agriculture consisted partly of peasants, who utilised their leisure time by working on the large estates, partly of an independent special class of wage labourers, relatively and absolutely few in numbers. The latter also were practically at the same time peasant farmers, since, besides their wages, they had allotted to them arable land to the extent of 4 or more acres, together with their cottages. Besides they, with the rest of the peasants, enjoyed the usufruct of the common land, which gave pasture to their cattle, furnished them with timber, fire-wood, turf, &...

Even in the last decade of the 17th century, the yeomanry, the class of independent peasants, were more numerous than the class of farmers. They had formed the backbone of Cromwell’s strength, and, even according to the confession of Macaulay, stood in favourable contrast to the drunken squires and to their servants, the country clergy, who had to marry their masters’ cast-off mistresses. About 1750, the yeomanry had disappeared,


Or to give a non-Marx source on SCP in pre-capitalist England, I quote Christopher Dyer's Everyday Life in Medieval England:

Quote:
The existence of large numbers of smallholders is in itself evidence of the penetration of small-scale exchange throughout English society by the eleventh century, because such people needed to buy
foodstuffs to supplement the produce of their holdings, and they had surplus labour to sell. In such a context, especially when at a higher social level lords were anxious to sell demesne produce, and to squeeze more cash in rents from their tenants, towns in the tenth and eleventh centuries look more like natural growths and less like alien implants.


And from his An Age of Transition (Economy and society in England in the later middle ages):

Quote:
The calculation that near to a fifth of the English population between 1300 and 1530 lived in towns, and yet more people worked in rural industries, makes the whole economy look complex, and diminishes the proportion of production that was intended for consumption by the producer’s household. In other words, ‘self-sufficiency’ was not a totally dominant characteristic. The size of the urban and industrial sector has large implications for our understanding of the agricultural surplus, as the peasants and the other rural workers were evidently capable of producing grain, legumes, vegetables, cheese, and meat for their own needs, and enough to support the significant minority who were not employed mainly in food production. ...

Towns could grow in such number and the total urban population could only expand as it did by making and selling for a wide market, which included peasant consumers. English towns, unlike those in parts of the continent, or indeed in Scotland and Wales, had no power to compel those in the surrounding countryside to use their markets.

The urban artisans and small-scale traders stimulated the better-off peasants into expanding production, and the demand from peasants in turn encouraged an increase in the number of specialist artisans to make more cloth, utensils, and implements, and to prepare food and drink for consumption in both town and country.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:09 pm 
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Apparently I didn't make myself clear: We are talking modes of production; that is to say an organization, or condition of labor that permeates and dominates society produced by and reproducing in turn a specific property relation. If you want to argue that "simple commodity production" exists as a mode of production, you have to "satisfy" those categories, an in particular, the categories of class-- ruling class, and exploited class. So where and who constitutes the ruling class unique to simple commodity production? Where and who constitutes the exploited class? How is the surplus expropriated?


That commodity production exists, expands, in periods of transition, isn't the issue, at all, or ever. That "simple commodity production" exists as a mode of production is the issue always.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:23 am 
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The usual controversy is about whether the law of value applies in SCP/petty commodity production. Parvus being the first to criticise this claim of Engels, while others, such as Dunaevsky, whose article I linked, defending it. And the reaosn why Engels made that claim is that folks were saying the law of value was a mere unprovable hypothesis. Read the Dunaevsky article for more on this.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:48 pm 
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How does the law of value "apply"-- whatever that means-- when the society itself is not constituted as value-producing? When labor power is not forced to present itself as a value?

The "law of value" is not a "spotty," partial, some time thing. It is an expression of the mode of production, the relation of classes.

Doesn't anybody get that that is fundamental to Marx's critique of capital? He's not providing a "history" of the "evolution" of value; he's exposing the immanent critique of capital which is its class relations, and which therefore moves from critique to class struggle to revolution-- following, or anticipating, the movement of labor itself.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 4:09 am 
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The point about Marx's critique is not "'just" about exploitation of the ruling class over wage labour. There is a critique also of simple commodity production if you want, a Proudhonian society where everyone is his own boss but commodity production exists (and this ideal was reactionary, in the sense that it did occur in the past; but there is no turning back primitive accumulation). The first chapters of capital don't speak about wage labour, but they are still a critique. I got this point from a Gegenstandpunkt text long ago, but if I recall correctly, you can criticise commodity production even without wage labour.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 8:05 am 
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Noa wrote:
The point about Marx's critique is not "'just" about exploitation of the ruling class over wage labour. There is a critique also of simple commodity production if you want, a Proudhonian society where everyone is his own boss but commodity production exists (and this ideal was reactionary, in the sense that it did occur in the past; but there is no turning back primitive accumulation). The first chapters of capital don't speak about wage labour, but they are still a critique. I got this point from a Gegenstandpunkt text long ago, but if I recall correctly, you can criticise commodity production even without wage labour.


WTF? Marx isn't just criticizing any commodity production; he's critiquing capitalist commodity production. This critique is based on the intrinsic conflicts in the production for value, of value; of human labor power constituted as value. To read the first chapters of Capital and not see that Marx is beginning with abstraction of value in order to reveal its constituent takes the cake.


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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 10:43 am 
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Yea, the point of starting Capital at such an abstract level is to show that all of the following elaborated tendencies, laws, motions, etc. are inherently linked to the abstract concepts. That the production of value, once it becomes the dominant mode of production, necessarily results in all of the following elaborated tendencies, laws, motions, etc.

The point is that Proudhon is not only 'reactionary' but also utopian, that you can't practically establish a worker's cooperative society.

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 Post subject: Re: On "New Imperialism"
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 12:11 pm 
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it also applies to capitalist commodity production, but clearly abstracting from wage labour, as Marx writes in the first chapter;
Quote:
Wages is a category that, as yet, has no existence at the present stage of our investigation.
(Dave B from revleft/libcom likes to cite this)

So even people like Rubin seem to claim that Marx here describes indeed simple commodity production, however they see the latter as a mere abstraction with no historical existence.

Basically though, that reduces the first chapters to conceptual construction building, not really containing any critique (or at most the fetish character).

(Btw, this was the Gegenstandpunkt source;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVVNVwcWlic)


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