replies to Rakesh, Wojtek, Charles, Chris Anarchism / Marxism debates

Jim heartfield jim at
Mon Aug 23 08:27:37 PDT 1999

In message <37C0FEBB.C6E12AC1 at>, Roger Odisio <rodisio at> writes
>Jim heartfield wrote:
>> Marx is quite clear that the increase in profits by increased
>> productivity cheapens the necessaries of life, making it possible for
>> workers to enjoy more use-values, even while the value of labour-power
>> is falling (Concept of Relative Surplus Value).
>With emphasis on "makes it possible".

Yes, I was interested here to establish the theoretical possibility. The empirical data also shows a gradual, though by no means uniform, improvement in living standards in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and so on. As you say
>It is true that standards of living have risen over time.

You say
>Needless to say, for the last 50 years in the US, there has also been a massive
>decline in labor's fortunes relative to those of capital.
Indeed, needless to say, as I needlessly said
>> But nobody is denying the fact of inequality. On the contrary, my
>> argument is that inequality is increasing

>Here you make the same arguement. Again, a rise in the standard of living for
>the general populace does not insure against immerisation of labor

Well, again, this is semantics. If immiseration means a fall in the standard of living then clearly a rise in the standard of living precludes a fall in the standard of living.

> Your
>statement does not constitute "a clear example" of things getting better.

No indeed, 'the word dog does not bite'. And as edifying as my words are, I would not expect them on their own to constitute a clear example of things getting better. They referred, however, in a passage you did not reproduce, to a rising life expectancy.

> And
>the large increase in inequality ought to be a red flag to that effect, in a
>social system like capitalism. Not some index unconnected to labor's fortunes.
>It is part of the issue you argue, Jim.

Indeed, but then wasn't that the point? Social inequality, increasing social inequality, labours condition worsening relative to capital, none of these things preclude an increase standard of living. -- Jim heartfield

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