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Re: [ox] Die Anwendbarkeit der Werttheorie in der Informatik

Hi Graham et al.,

graham schrieb:
Stefan schrieb:
It is not only surplus value, but value in general. Copylefting
design (of products and production) means making productive labour
unproductive. Labour is then general work (allgemeine Arbeit) - the
term which I asked for.
Ummm. Just to make sure there is at least some overlap with what
people on the list are saying, this is my understanding (clearly different
from Stefan's). I apologise if this is repeating material already
discussed and settled. I think it's possible I have a more traditional
(1960's) view of the world and your influences are different.
I assume value=wert, exchange value = gebrauchswert, commodity = ware.

use value = gebrauchswert (corrected in a further mail)
exchange value = tauschwert

Marx' 'allgemeine arbeit' is general, scientific work. In legal terms,
either pure science not covered by any law, or at the most specific
new ideas for implementation traditionally covered by patent law.
In practical terms, the kind of work originally done by lone inventors
(eg Stephenson), later by universities,
which coexisted very happily (maybe more so in the past) with
capitalism. Something once achieved in this area is a permanent
achievement which does not need to be repeated in any way.


The product of programmers may express scientific ideas, but is not in
one-to-one correspondence with them. Many programs are possible to achieve the
same end - the first editor was not the last (not even emacs!) - which
is why software has in the past been covered by copyright law, based
on expression, not idea.
The whole of the non-pre-packaged software industry is based on the
fact that one program, however good, cannot satisfy the needs for
all companies and all situations. Programs are not 'allgemeine
arbeit', though they may reflect it, and saying that they are
may encourage the people who want to cover software by patents.


An individual program is a product; it is produced by labour.
If it is produced to sell it is a commodity. If it is produced by
paid labour for capital, but not to sell (eg. a control system for
unique machine tool) it is not a commodity. But in either case it
has value, based on the time taken to produce it. In the first case
this value is realised directly as price; in the second case, indirectly
as part of the price of the products of the factory.


If it was not produced to sell, and not produced by paid labour it is
not a commodity and has no exchange value.  And if protected by the
gpl and the current legal system, it cannot become a commodity
or have exchange value  (the exchange value attached to Red Hat
products is the exchange value of the nominal services attached to them,
not of the products themselves).


But it may be useful, and so have use value.

I don't think so, because use value does only exist in combination
with (exchange) value. If value is absent use value is not present
too. I got a reply from Ralf, and I know that this point is not part
of a consensus. Anyway, let's check it ...

In general, I think these categories are only categories for
value-based economies. They are not valid in an ontological sense,
at least, you always have to clarifiy the status of these

And it is still the result of productive labour

'Productive' always means 'productive of capital', only for G-G': No
value, no productive labour.

- its production involves time,


and to the extent that 'value' is used to mean simply a measure
of the fraction of society's time labour time spent on producing a good,
it has value.

No, because it _is_ a societal category grasping the fact, that
commodities are exchanged, and in mean their value is realized. If
it is not produced for exchange, it has no value.

But only to this extent - it cannot have exchange value,
and measuring a free program by the amount of time
spent on it is in general impractical and pointless.

The (exchange) value is always impractical to measure, because it is
only realized on a societal level 'behind your back' ("hinter dem

labour spent on it may be productive from a human point of view, but
cannot not be productive from the point of view of capital
[in English I believe the use of the word 'productive' in Marx'
sense as 'productive of surplus value' is not at all reflected
in any normal usage, so that using the word 'productive' in this
way is only likely to be understood by Marx-exegesists. Is the same true
in German?].

Yes, it is the same problem. In the context discussed here I mean
'productive of capital' (kapital-produktiv) which is equal to
'productive of surplus value' if you focus just the surplus part.

If you say that software development is 'allgemeine arbeit' , and that
free software is based on that fact, then
the only way that free software can be generalized to a whole society is if
all the labour of that society becomes mental labour.

Only _free_ software development is 'allgemeine arbeit', not
software development in general. So a generalization does not depend
on 'mentalization' of labour. In the sense of being 'procductive of
capital' I wrote: "Copylefting design (of products and production)
means making productive labour unproductive. Labour is then general
work (allgemeine Arbeit)..." - because it is much easier to free the
non-material part of production, and because it works with immanent
criteria of having advantages in competition (copylefted knowledge
is not only fsf-free, it is priceless too).

if it is normal productive labour, free software is a demonstration that
productve labour can be done collectively without profit, and therefore
potentially so can any labour - for example, baking bread (as in
 communal ovens in many villages in the past).

ack. ('productive' here in the sense of 'human productivity in

The oven does not need to be dematerialized :-) But unlike baking bread,
which preceded capitalism, and could be swallowed and reshaped by it, free
software has emerged as a consequence of capitalism, a result not
a premiss, and so cannot be swallowed up by it, any more than feudalism
could completely absorb early capitalism.


picture of a value-free society - which in fact is the same what
free software does. Taking over the material production for a small
amount of money can be a step in this direction, but the goal has to
be reorganizing our live in a way that value does not force us any
more to produce more value in order to exist. We must jump out of
G-G', and this is the simple thing, which is hard to do.

Do you think it is a necessary consequence of your argument, that
at some point you will be able to buy out the capitalists? Or that
if it is not possible to do so, there is no other route?

I don't think, that we can 'buy capitalism' to put it in trash.
Therefore I worte 'jump out'. Free software is a good and working
example that a value-free society could work. Of course, we need a
political movement doing the right steps at the right time based on
an understanding of the overall-process. And what we are doing here
it to try to understand the ongoing process.

Me too, so forgive me for my utopism... (...and my english;-))
I'm happy with utopianism, and would be very proud if my German
were as good as the English of everyone who has had the patience
to reply in English :-) (but I am increasingly understanding the
German now I am getting used to the technical terms).



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  Kanzlerstr. 8, 40472 Duesseldorf
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Organisation: projekt

[English translation]
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