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HREQ 2010 (80)
Lecture 16

HREQ 2010 Lecture 16: February 13
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Department
Human Rights and Equity Studies
Course
HREQ 2010
Professor
Paul Brienza
Semester
Fall

Description
-the promotion of free market principles, the expansion of markets, and the opening up and exchange of capital between nations -what we don’t understood or choose to ignore is the ways in which our consumption ties into the global system of capitalism -our benefits, the things we take for benefit, the ready availability of cheap products, is premised on the exploitation of many in the developing world -we have ways in which capitalism becomes a religious sense in which we promote capitalist economic systems that tend to, in many cases, downplay the importance of social investment for to desire for the part of us, as first world citizens, to exploit these markets -it is an important element in the path of human rights -it is not difficult to say that capitalism is the greatest impediment to global human rights ^-this is the case because capitalism has a political economic system in reaching to all parts of the world, and in that sense, it presents a very real threat to the whole notion of human rights -one important and very significant element of this is labour: we, on a daily basis, benefit from the cheap labour of the third world: exploitation of workers across the globe -we benefit from that in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, etc. -virtually everything we consume is associated to the exploitation of labour somewhere else -the whole basis of a capitalist system is based on the exploitation of workers -the insights of Marx cannot be merely judged based on his political ideologies -Marx builds on the foundation that was already established by previous political economists -there is a lineage that extends from Adam Smith to Marx -Marx was very interested in what these economists had to say -the idea that we have separated politics from economics is an issue itself: it assumes that the two can be separated (absurd) -economics decisions are political in orientation and political decisions have economic consequences -many of what Marx says is strikingly similar to what previous economists argued (Adam Smith) -one example of this is the the distinction between use value and exchange value: ^-what this argues is that there is a difference between the value of something based on its use for us versus the value of something based on its exchange between us -anything that you use immediately has use value: you grow food and consume it, and thus, it is useful for you at the moment -versus exchange: the value of something is based on its exchange in the labour market, in which the value is economically and competitively coordinated..e.g.: what is the value of a diamond? In reality, a diamond is worthless, as it cannot be consumed or used to make things, and thus, we will not get significant use out of it -the value of the diamonds is not based on what we use them for: the value that we get out of diamonds is in terms of and based on their exchangeability -we’ve attached value to diamonds: there is no inherent value to diamonds, as there is to water, food, and shelter (survival needs): the value of diamonds is derived from its exchangeability -on the other hand, we have water, which is readily available and important, though it is not worth very much (it is priceless) -the value that is based on the use and the value that comes from the exchange -in terms of economics, that is the distinction -exchange in terms of value is attached socially -the basic law of exchange value is supply and demand: -something that is in high supply and low demand is going to be worth less -something in low demand and high supply is going to be worth more because it is more difficult to obtain (this is why diamonds are more valuable than water, not because they are more important for survival, but because they are more rare, and humans attach more value to diamonds) -exchange value makes everything proportionate and equivalent: this means that we can attach a quantifiable value to things that we buy: e.g. this diamond is worth x amount of dollars, we can also mention the other items we can purchase with 5,000 dollars -thus, everything is understood in terms of quantity, which applies to all the commodities -everything has an attached value to it, and it extends beyond that, as we attach value to ourselves as well (e..g we quantify our time by stating that we will work an x amount of time) -there are consequences to quantifying and turning everything into an exchangeable commodity, which we see in a capitalist society -the feticisim of commodity: it is an object that one worships ^-applies it to modern society: in modern society, the commodity becomes the subject: what he means is that the commodity becomes more real than we are, as it has its own value and life -we attach value to a commodity in various ways: -producing the commodity and the process is more real than the workers, in a sense -there are workers involved in the production of the item, but all we see is the item -these commodities give us a personality: this may be referred to as branding or logocentric -the idea is that we brand ourselves through the products that we consume -we expect the products we consume to say something about ourselves to other people -thus, the argument is that who we are as people, at least part of how we understand ourselves, comes from the commodity we consume, which is difficult to deny in a capitalist system -this branding phenomenon exists, especially pertaining to celebrities: it sells a certain lifestyle, iew of the world, and notion that they are better than others -Beckwin talked about this as conspicuous consumption: the idea that you consume in order to be seen because it confers status, privilege, and standing in society -commodities become the real subjects of global capitalism, why people have jobs, and why they have identity, and thus, our livelihoods rotate around the commodities that we consume -in a capitalist society, we have several things going on: the basic premise of the capitalist system is the efficient use of labour (labour becomes a commodity) -labour fluctuates in price just like anything else that is tradable like a commodity -once you introduce economic motivations, it becomes problematic -if it operates like any other market, it will be driven by the idea of reducing costs, also referred to as the productivity of labour -there are classes based on this separating distinction between those who sell their labour, which is the vast majority of the population, and those who buy and consume labour -this is the basic difference we have between people in society -this is the major distinction that Marx notes is present, which is the key to how we organize ourselves in a capitalist society, and results in the relation of production: there are those who own, operate, and control the means of production -first class, the capitalist class: bourgeoisie (those who make money and survive from capitalism) -second class: the proletariat (those who base their survival on the sale of their labour) -there is a supply and demand ratio, and if you are a buyer of labour, ideally, what you want is an oversupply of labour (more people than are possible to fill the job that you want to buy their labour time for) -Marx states that surplus labour markets, where you have unemployment, works to the advantage of the capitalist class, simply on the basis of an economic principle -if there is a high supply of something, the price will decrease -if we have a 20% unemployment rate, that will benefit the capitalists because with that pressure in mind, that will force down the price of labour -low-skilled jobs in particular will be affected -the reserve army of labour: there is more people out there that can fill the job available, which works to the advantage of the capitalists -Marx states that that creates a structural set of conditions that put these classes at odds -they will never get along because they have radically conflicting interests, which makes for the conflict that exists in society -there are economic principles at work, which put these classes into conflict: it is inevitably in the long term, natural, and in fact, good..they will demand better rights and improve their conditions, and thus, realize that they have common interests -one side argued for revolution and the other side argued for reform (through strikes and collective bargaining) -it is the agitation of the workers that moves society fo
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