[lbo-talk] Guy de Maupassant and the labor theory of value

Mike Ballard swillsqueal at yahoo.com.au
Sat Aug 13 18:17:40 PDT 2011

"I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realise it wasn't easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it's paid for at last, and I'm glad indeed."

Madame Forestier had halted.

"You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?"

"Yes. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike."

And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "


Thanks Joanna. The story does have a contemporary ring to it. Workers slaving away all their lives thinking they've saved enough for retirement only to have the value of the currency they saved in cut in half when they start drawing their pensions. Not only the currency they saved in but the assets they put their currency into falling in price to levels they were at more than a decade ago e.g. the Dow was hitting the 11,000 mark in 2000. Look at it now. House prices plummeting to more correctly reflect their value. Pensions invested in CDOs blown out of the water. Fake pasty diamonds? As for the value of the currency they get their pensions in, just use the price of gold as a way of measuring. What's gold an ounce now...$1800? What was it back at the time the worker started saving? I can remember when it was $32 an ounce...shows my age.

On your point though, I do think that when workers discover how the wage system works to give over all the wealth they create into the hands of the employing class (what is like 10% of the people own 88% of the wealth?) they begin to see the outline of it all--the totality, if you will. That's been my experience at the grassroots. Of course, with most of the left talking reformist trash when not guilt tripping the working class with talk of affluenza, it's a long process made longer and harder. And then, there's all that acculturation associated with obeying power structures to keep oneself safely on the road to approval by authority.

Cheers, Mike B)


Wobbly Times


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