One of the most concrete expressions of the ideological character of our society is the fact that newspapers have a Business section but no Labor section. The vast majority of us do not own businesses or banks. The overwhelming majority of us work for – and answer to – someone else. We must, in order to survive. Yet this basic social fact is everywhere suppressed in discourse and media. Is this a society of markets and individuals or bosses and wage-slaves? Do we live in a “free market system” or a “wage labor system”? Addressing this trick question requires understanding what economic value is and how it is generated in our society. This engaging video – the latest in a series – does a nice a job of taking up the relation between markets, labor, and value (and as you’ll see in plain speech). The text for the narration is available here (as is video and text for part 2).
A natural followup question regarding waged labor here is whether machines can generate economic value, or how about even intelligent robots like Star Trek’s Data? For a fun discussion of this, head to the most recent episode of the Diet Soap Podcast.