The End of Value1

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The End of Value1
Jim Davis

jd AT gocatgo DOT com

New technologies express the fulfillment of Marx's writings in his "Fragment on Machines" -- a production system without human labor, where the productivity of technology so overwhelms the production process that "labor time ceases to be the measure" of wealth and "production based upon exchange value collapses." Such a production system is antithetical to a system based on the expropriation of surplus labor, and by definition cancels it. However, production has not collapsed; rather than work disappearing, or at least lightening, more people than ever are engaged in wage labor; and each new high-tech production zone seems to be matched by a new Dickensian production zone. Can these two positions be reconciled?
This paper attempts such a reconciliation, towards coming to a better understanding of capitalism in the age of electronics, and what that means for the class struggle. I argue that as a historical category, Value has at least a theoretical end. Qualitatively new technologies are labor-replacing technologies, and lay the basis for Value-less production. This, of course, raises profound issues for Capital. The complex interaction of these new technologies and Capital, expressed in various counter-tendencies explains much about the state of capitalism today. The new technological climate does not in itself destroy the Value system, or capitalism, but it does create the conditions for Capital's destruction and the construction of a communist society. The end of Value is not automatic, but a conscious act by class forces born out of the new conditions.
These questions deserve much more research, and I encourage scholars to investigate more fully the issues raised below, towards a greater understanding of the state of the world today, that we might cross the "narrow horizon of bourgeois right" sooner than later.

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