In a reply to my post, A critical examination of Kevin Carson’s Mutualism (Final Part), a commenter, Alan, asks:
“Marx’s theory, on the other hand, predicts precisely political support for the existing mode of exploitation, since he never assumes existing political relations are founded on anything other than the law of value, equal exchange, and material advantage accruing to both exploiter and exploited.”
So, if the exchange really IS equal, (I mean, really equal!), then where is the exploitation? Or maybe I should ask: what do you mean by “exploitation”?
This is a really good question.
I dispute the commonly accepted definition of the term, “exploitation,” in Marx’s theory in light of his own assertion that exploitation takes place on the basis of equal exchange. Almost all definitions of exploitation I have found include the idea that it involves the use of force or compulsion in some form — as in direct use of force or threat of force, or resulting from unequal bargaining power, etc. I do not reject the occurrence of these forms of coercion in history; but I do reject that they are necessary for exploitation to take place.
As can be seen in my example of the Mexican migrant (which I chose deliberately) she is no less exploited having voluntarily abandoned her family holding and migrated to the United States. Exploitation does not involve the use of force in the relation; it arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value. There is nothing in this employment that, of necessity, requires compulsion. Indeed, we can even assume the worker herself finds a decided economic advantage from such employment.
I think this demands expansion, so that there is no ambiguity on my part:
I answered Alan by saying: “Exploitation …arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value.” Although force may occur hand in hand with exploitation, force is not actually necessary: the worker, in Marx’s theory, is assumed to benefit economically from the exploitation.
I think it is impossible to understand the Fascist State unless this is grasped. All theories that claim exploitation is based on force must be discarded. Marx’s theory did not in any way depend on force, starvation, unequal bargaining power, betrayal by a labor aristocracy, stupidity, etc. His theory depends solely on the material economic advantage the worker realizes by selling herself into slavery — exploitation consists of nothing more than the employment of her labor power to expand capital.
The Fascist State itself arises from the desire of the Proletariat to maintain its conditions as a class; and would have occurred even in the absence of the capitalist. Just as Marx’s theory predicted the proletariat can be its own capitalist, so it predicts the proletariat can create, on this basis, its own Fascist State to enforce its own exploitation. In all cases, it is the material relations of society that determine the form of State and not the reverse.
This shows the complete stupidity of Marxists who argue the State, in the aftermath of the social revolution, will be wielded on behalf of the proletariat by a vanguard party. This theory is completely wrong.
THE FASCIST STATE MUST BE BROKEN IN ITS ENTIRETY.
The story goes that As Cortes plundered the New World, at one point he had to scuttle his ships to prevent a mutiny by his forces — we have to do that to the State — raze it to the ground in its entirety and let nothing of its structure escape.
The mistake in Tahrir Square was precisely that they saw the army of Egypt as a neutral or even popular force, because it was completely paralyzed by events and unable to defend the Mubarak regime. That was the time to chop its head off, and smash all of its elements. And, it remains to be accomplished.