Under "capitalism" where wage labor is a factor of production, the system is based on renting out one's labor time and one is paid by the amount of labor power the employer can extract to create surplus or revenue over expenses that translates into money profits. Historically, the wage bill has been the major expense and a current (recurring) expense. The marginalist explanation obscures this, conclude that since the factors of production earn their marginal product, works receive their just deserts. This is not only an incorrect conclusion; it is also not implied by marginalist theory. David Ellerman is calling for the abolition of "work" in the sense of the "capitalistic" system. He claims that the logic of Left based on Marx is the wrong way to go and that the Left needs a
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This paper is a brief analysis of how the Left has been side-tracked for about a century and a half by Marx, Lenin, and the Russian Revolution. It is as if the central question was whether people should be publicly or privately rented – with the Great Capitalism-Communism Debate and Cold War being like a “Peloponnesian War” over whether slaves should be publicly owned (Sparta) or privately owned (Athens). Although Marx would have personally favored abolishing the (private) wage-labor relation, the deficiency was in his theories.
no theory of inalienable rights to critique wage-labor per se;
no labor theory of property about workers appropriating the whole product (positive and negative fruits of their labor); and
no theory about democracy in the workplace (or elsewhere).
The major fork-in-the-road started with the inchoate “labor theory” of Locke, Smith, and Ricardo. Marx tried to develop it as the labor theory of value and exploitation, and the so-called “Ricardian Socialist” (such as Thomas Hodgskin and to some extent, Proudhon) developed it as the labor theory of property – while modern economics bypassed it entirely with the marginalist revolution.
We argue that the Left should take the branch indicated by the labor theory of property.If you are interested in post-capitalism, this is a good read.
David Ellerman holds a PhD in math.
Towards Abolishing the Renting of Persons