[OPE-L:2393] Re: the employment contract and capitalism

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 14:16:38 EST

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Re Ernesto's [2390]:

If supervisors produce surplus value, then the "wages of superintendence"
should be considered to be a component part of variable capital and
thereby enter into the determination of the average rate of profit. This
is a theoretical possibility, but it is one that was rejected by Marx (see
_TSV_, Part III, Progress ed., p. 505).

I guess the larger question is "What do managers do?". As Paolo C
[2389] and you have pointed out, part of their role is "coordination" of
the labor process. This, though, is only one aspect of their role: the
larger aspect is to represent the interests of capital in the labor
process and thereby to coerce and threaten workers in an effort to get
those workers to create more surplus value.
> The question I rised is different. I am talking of "team production", a
> notion uknwon to Marx (or at least not precisely known). There is team
> production when the productivity of any member of the team is not
> independent of that of the other members.

"Team production" was known to Marx. Indeed, one might argue that
"simple cooperation" was a form of "team production" -- as defined above.
Indeed, in the transition *to modern industry* there was, in a certain
sense, a shift away from "team production". I.e. with modern industry and
the assembly line, production was no longer based on a "team" concept
where workers worked in small groups and everyone performed -- at one time
or another -- all of the tasks in the production of a commodity (as was
the case in the auto industry before the introduction of the assembly
line). With the assembly line, the teams were broken-up, there was an
increase in the level of the division of labor and specialization, and the
*pace of work* was built into the machinery and determined by management.
Thus, the assembly line speed and how the jobs on the line were defined
and divided by mgt. determined the intensity of labor (subject to the
resistance by workers). Nowadays, "team production" is pretty rare (an
exception might be the Volvo assembly plant in Kalmar, Sweden).

> In this case coordination is
> needed to obtain the highest possible productivity from the team activity
> (you cannot separate the productivity of the team members).

See above.

On the question of the police that was raised in [2388]:

*If* we say that police are members of the working class (which I am not
conceding now), *then* an interesting corollary is that:


-- since if we were to unite with the police _as police_ then we would be
crushed! Thus, unity -- ironically -- would be the formula for defeat.
*Only if* the police *ceased to be police* could unity with them be
desirable. I.e. they would have to *refuse the commands* given to them by
capital and the state and -- indeed! -- turn their guns around and share
the instruments of death that they control with the rest of the
working-class. Yet, by doing this, they would have transcended their role
as cops and there could be no going back to their old jobs then.

So, if you are right that police are workers, then we should support the
following slogan:


We should also advise others that "In unity there is weakness".

btw, I think that police and mangers perform a similar function for
capital and the state. Managers police factories and offices!; police
manage our lives (ordinarily) during our non-working hours!

> Marx is not omniscent. There are phenomena he did not know. Otherwise
> science should have stopped with Capital. You cannot investigate a lot of
> phenomena, that have been brought to light by recent research, by using
> instruments that were not construed for them.

Agreed! And in that spirit, let me say that I think that the slogan:


is hopelessly antiquated. Workers, after all, know that they have a *great
amount* to lose ranging from their lives to all of their possessions.
The implication of the slogan is that all of the material goods that
workers own (such as houses, TVs, cars, etc.) are "nothing" and therefore
... who cares if you lose them. Tell that to workers and you are going to
get an argument!

In solidarity, Jerry

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