Materialist analysis of technology, society and the environment

In a barter economy, we tend to see very little class difference. This is not surprising; you can't stockpile 10 million coconuts on a small island, and even if you could what would you do with them? But money allows you to "condense" the labor it takes to make 10 million coconuts into symbols (like paper or bank accounts).

Inequality comes much more easily to money systems -- capitalist and communist alike -- and this is especially true when the means for producing commodities is owned by only a wealthy few (be it CEOs or the Politburo). In that case workers can only sell their labor, and unless it is skilled, labor value is a buyer's market.


Exchange Value - Labor value = Surplus Value (the value that has been extracted from labor)

Capital tries to externalize the costs of protecting the environment (e.g. cheaper to pollute if you can get away with it) and costs of labor reproducing itself (cheaper to have employees pay for their own health care, etc.), but this can create crisis which harms capital. Both labor and nature must be able to reproduce themselves (i.e. lead sustainable lives, replenish themselves).


How can we return surplus value to laborers?

1) Via government (taxes, socialism)

2) More bargaining power (labor unions)

3) More benefits (health, training, daycare)

4) Profit sharing

5) Worker-owned corporations